Adamu's shared items

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sad state of affairs, BADASS photo

"Elite Zimbabwe soldiers, in 1982, whom Mr. Mugabe has long relied on to hold power."

Clearly, the Mugabe regime is the international equivalent of the badguy from Karate Kid.

There is NO mercy in this Zimbabwe!

This whole story (Mugabe's generals are torturing opposition politicians to extract criminal immunity) is as if Mugabe's generals have been ordered to "sweep the leg" of the opposition.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Souja Boy vs. Ice T

This passage from the Wiki entry on Soulja Boy left me speechless:

Feud with Ice-T
In June 2008, on DJ Cisco’s Urban Legend
mixtape, Ice-T
criticized Way for "killing hip-hop" and his song "Crank That" for being
"garbage" compared to the works of other hip-hop artists such as Rakim, Das EFX, Big
Daddy Kane
and Ice Cube.[22] Way then
responded in a YouTube video by mocking Ice-T's age saying "we Wikipedia-ed
this nigga, this
nigga was born in was born before the internet was created; how the
fuck you even find me?" Way, who seemed to be reading the Wikipedia article
about Ice-T as he spoke, frequently punctuated his comments with laughter. Ice-T
proceeded to offer a video response to Way's reaction in which he made an
apology for the harsh comment, but many felt it was a backhanded apology,
because at the end of the video Ice-T's son appeared reiterating the same
negative comment that Ice-T had stated in the mixtape. However Ice-T did not
apologize for his critique on Way's music even as to go so far as reiterating
his belief that Way's music was "garbage." Rapper Kanye West defended Way by
arguing that Soulja Boy created a new, original work for hip-hop, thus keeping
the authentic meaning of the music.[23] Way
followed suit by posting another video on the internet in the form of a cartoon
mocking Ice-T and ridiculing a video clip of Ice-T dancing.[24]
First off, Ice T as a rapper was never all that catchy. In fact, his work in the 80s sounds a lot like what gets mocked "I'm Ice T and I'm here to say" style corniness. Like take this from Breakin 2:

Say what you will about Soulja Boy, he didn't kill anything - he made a hot song with an accompanying dance that connected with the people of his day. As far as I can tell, Ice T has always been about his hard image, with the listenability of his music coming a distant second (something similar could be said of his acting career!). One thing the two have in common - Ice T's leather getup is just as flamboyant and ridiculous as the Superman-logo rainbow gear favored by Soulja Boy.

Considering difference between the music made 30 years ago in Ice T's heyday and the stuff that comes out today, it really shouldn't be considered in the same category at all. It would be like Little Richard saying Motorhead killed rock n roll. The two have just evolved separately such that they are mutually unrecognizable.

Another interesting comparison - Ice T grew up in Crenshaw and was part of the second generation and among the pioneers who contributed to the genre's shift from party anthems to talk about the gangster lifestyle. Soulja Boy's music draws on that history (raps about ho's, dances with handguns in both hands) but de-emphasizes macho violence. And crucially Soulja Boy has firmly middle class roots - he launched his career from his suburban Mississippi home with a music studio paid for by his dad.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

VAT taxes can end up being progressive?

The Economist Free Exchange blog has a brief discussion on consumption/VAT taxes:

...[A]n OECD study... finds, contrary to perceptions, that America has
one of the world's most progressive tax structures.
Even before the rise in
top marginal rates promised by Mr Obama, the US income tax collects 45 per cent
of its revenues from the highest-income decile. Compare that with Britain at 39
per cent, Canada at 36 per cent, France at 28 per cent, Sweden at 27 per cent
and an OECD average of 32 per cent.
That is because consumption taxes (VAT)
in Europe undermine the progressivity of income taxes. There exists a healthy
strand of the public finance literature suggesting that consumption taxes are
more efficient than income taxes. They can encourage more saving which leads to
more investment. Mr Crook believes that rather than steepening the tax schedule
America should consider a VAT.
Actually, this needn't even undermine
progressive taxation; consumption taxes can be implemented in a manner which
taxes higher earners (or spenders) more. Glenn Hubbard and
Bill Gentry
have found that broad consumption taxes can be progressive, for

Someone writing in the Nikkei's Economics Classroom column (not online, and I neglected to save the copy...) argued in line with that last argument that raising the consumption tax could end up being progressive. In particular they estimated that a higher Japanese consumption tax with the revenue used to fund social programs would end up being progressive as the poor would spend less yet use more social services, resulting in a net progressive redistribution. In their estimate, the middle class earners were squeezed the hardest as their net taxation/service usage was about even, even compared to the rich. Compared with the deeper analysis of the 48 page Hubbard and Gentry article, the Nikkei article seems kind of oversimplified.

Friday, April 3, 2009

News flash: Screwing around at work makes you MORE productive!


Study: surfing the Internet at work boosts

People who are able to spend 20 percent or less of their time surfing the
Internet at work are more productive than those who don't, according to research
from the University of Melbourne. Small Internet breaks help workers focus
better, though Internet addicts still have a problem.
In his report, Coker said that 70 percent of workers engage in WILB, the
most popular of which involved looking for information about products, reading
news, playing games, and watching YouTube videos. "People need to zone out for a
bit to get back their concentration," he said in a statement. "Short and
unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to
rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as
a result, increased productivity."

Don't go thinking that you can now spend your entire day bidding on eBay
auctions, however. Coker said that—like everything—WILB should be done in
moderation. According to his research, those who surfed for less than 20 percent
of their time at the office were more productive than those who don't by nine
percent, but such productivity increases didn't apply to the Internet-addicted.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Elvis's "Fool's Gold Loaf"

From Get Rich Slowly:

On the night of 01 February 1976, Elvis Presley decided he wanted a Fool’s Gold Loaf, a special sandwich made of hollowed bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and a pound of bacon. He and an entourage flew from Memphis to Denver. The group ate their sandwiches and then flew home. Price: $50,000 - $60,000.

Here is how you make this monstrosity of a sandwich:

Fool's Gold Loaf


o 2 T margarine
o 1 loaf Italian white bread
o 1 lb / 450 g bacon slices
o 1 jar of smooth peanut butter
o 1 jar of grape jelly

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Spread the margarine generously all over all sides of the loaf. Place it on a baking sheet in the oven.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a bit of oil until it is crisp and drain it thoroughly on paper towels.

Remove the loaf from the oven when it is evenly browned, after approximately 15 minutes. Slice the loaf lengthwise and hollow out the interior, leaving as much bread along the walls as desired. Slather a thick layer of peanut butter in the cavity of the loaf and follow with another thick layer of grape jelly. Use lots of both.

Arrange the bacon slices inside the cavity, or, if desired, layer the bacon slivers between the peanut butter and jelly. Close the loaf, slice and eat.

Serves one if you're Elvis. Serves 8-10 if you're a regular person.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Count censored

I hurt my face laughing at this:

Makes you wonder if this is what the Sesame Street people had in mind to begin with.

Raising bilingual kids

Interesting Japan Times article on raising bilingual kids. The keys are, according to the author:

  • First and foremost, raising bilingual children requires "time... monumental effort and perseverance on the part of both parents; and... piles of money"
  • Also beneficial are supportive relatives who can host the kids over summer holidays etc.
  • And one parent having a fairly mobile job will make it easier to move between countries.

Seems pretty doable!