Maureen Dowd should have watched this before writing her recent column- she would have realized April 6 is not the first time in history Bob Dylan has performed a concert without playing "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Hurricane."
With at least eight Starbucks stores in walking distance from my house, the chain is a bit ubiquitous here and impossible to avoid.
Today I got up with the intention of going to my independent coffeeshop of choice and enjoying a cup of Joe, breakfast and a wi-fi connection.
Only today is China's Labor Day and fittingly enough the independent coffeeshop was closed. So I lumbered on down to Starbucks, where I picked up a mocha coffee and a croissant with some mystery meat in lieu of breakfast. Starbucks has belatedly decided that it is going to provide free wi-fi for its connection, although it doesn't do so in the most effective manner.
In China, Starbucks customers have to send their phone number to the China Mobile company, then wait for China Mobile to send them a special code by text message. Once you have this code, you can use it to log in for a certain amount of time (four hours I believe). This process has to be repeated over again every time you visit Starbucks. For repeat customers, it must be maddening. Sitting down with my coffee, I attempted to log in, but discovered I couldn't do so because my cell phone bill had lapsed (China Mobile's notification system for pending shutoffs is a bit inscrutable). I graded a few papers and drank my mocha and headed out the door, where lo and behold I discovered a China Mobile office. I put two months worth of fees on my phone bill, restoring its service... and decided I might as well get what I had come for- an afternoon in the coffeeshop with some Internet- so I headed back to Starbucks and bought another coffee. By this time, I had invested about $7 in coffee for the day.
Still, I wasn't able to get online. I logged in with my phone number again but no text message came. I tried to click it a second time and was told I had reached the "maximum limit" for the number of code prompts I could get in the day, even though as of yet, nearly an hour after I arrived, I was still not able to log into the Internet.
Aside from clunky Internet, I also detest Starbucks for its monotony, failure to provide restrooms in almost all China outlets, absence of local publications aside from government propaganda newspapers and fashion rags, boring menu and leaky coffee cups. The employees at Starbucks are very pleasant and well-trained, I have no problem with the service. My problem is with the company and what it represents. And for fucking me over this morning when all I wanted was a coffee and a net connection.
Michele Bachmanncomparedhigh taxes to the Holocaust during a campaign stop on Saturday. She is apparently unaware that one of the major reasons for the current debt crisis is the dramatically lower taxesmulti-millionaires are paying today versus the 1990's.
Let me interrupt Minnesota's nutjob with a few facts. Paul Krugman wrote:
... Don’t you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.
But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.
What — you haven’t heard about this proposal? Actually, you have: I’m talking about demands that we make all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the middle class, permanent...
According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to following the Obama proposal, would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the sake of comparison, it took months of hard negotiations to get Congressional approval for a mere $26 billion in desperately needed aid to state and local governments.
And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: the policy center’s estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent... And the average tax break for those lucky few — the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year — would be $3 million over the course of the next decade.
Between 2002 and 2007, for instance, the bottom ninety-nine per cent of incomes grew 1.3 per cent a year in real terms—while the incomes of the top one per cent grew ten per cent a year. That one per cent accounted for two-thirds of all income growth in those years. People in the ninety-fifth to the ninety-ninth percentiles of income have represented a fairly constant share of the national income for twenty-five years now. But in that period the top one per cent has seen its share of national income double; in 2007, it captured twenty-three per cent of the nation’s total income. Even within the top one per cent, income is getting more concentrated: the top 0.1 per cent of earners have seen their share of national income triple over the same period...
At the moment, we have a system of tax brackets well suited to nineteenth-century New Zealand. Our system sets the top bracket at three hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars, with a tax rate of thirty-five per cent. (People in the second-highest bracket, starting at a hundred and seventy-two thousand dollars for individuals, pay thirty-three per cent.) This means that someone making two hundred thousand dollars a year and someone making two hundred million dollars a year pay at similar tax rates. LeBron James and LeBron James’s dentist: same difference.
That's not even taking into account the tax breaks and loopholes disproportionately enjoyed by the wealthiest Americans.
Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry - determined to make a day of it. Why should we knock under and go with the stream? Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill. With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses. If the engine whistles, let it whistle till it is hoarse for its pains. If the bell rings, why should we run? We will consider what kind of music they are like. Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time. If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.
Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things. I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands than is necessary. My head is hands and feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and fore paws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills. I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts; so by the divining-rod and thin rising vapors I judge; and here I will begin to mine.
The New York Times has a piece in its technology section about efforts abroad to bring democracy to China.
From a pair of computer screens in a lime green bedroom in Upper Manhattan, a 27-year-old man from China is working to bring about a popular uprising...
“Our group is expanding,” said the uptown blogger, who studied the classics and graduated in New York. He asked to be called Gaius Gracchus, in honor of the ancient Roman reformer, but also uses the pseudonym Hua Ge, or “Flower Brother,” online.
He spoke confidently of the power of his group of 25 young Internet-savvy activists inside and outside of China — in Paris, Seoul, Hong Kong, Australia and Taiwan — to influence China’s top leaders. With a partner in China, he was among the first to publish the times and places for protesters to gather, and he remains one of the strongest voices calling for a revolution modeled on those in the Middle East, online activists said.
“The Jasmine Revolution is like a flag,” he said. “It’s out there to be taken up by whoever wants it.”