On Taxes

I’m very opposed to excessively high taxes. I believe that absolutely nobody, regardless of their income, should ever have to pay more than 40% in taxes. That is the absolute maximum I can consider fair. And even that is too much. 30% is a lot more reasonable.

People keep touting Sweden as an example of everything good, but, from what I understand, I’d be expected to pay 60% in taxes there. That is daylight robbery!!! Absolutely nothing can justify this. Whatever social programs they can offer me in return, they can keep them. At this price, I’m not interested in anything any government can offer me. If you cannot run the state without requiring that people hand over a half of their earnings and more, move aside and let somebody try to handle things better.

This is why I wouldn’t have been completely happy in Quebec. I don’t, of course, dispute the right of the people of Quebec or Sweden to live any way they choose to. I’m just saying that, for me, this is unacceptable.

P.S. Of course, people who say that all taxes are evil are complete idiots. Good, reasonable taxation is key to a well-functioning society. (Once again, well-functioning according to my system of values.) I’m very happy with the way I’m taxed in the US and would not mind paying more in taxes than I do now, especially state taxes.

Wanting To Be Liked. . .

. . . is a crippling disease. People let others walk all over them at home, at school, at work, among friends, etc. guided by this dangerous and unproductive need.

If you suffer from this illness, I suggest the following remedies:

– realize that you cannot be liked by everybody no matter what you do and how much you sacrifice. Some people won’t like you by default. If you perceive this simple fact of objective reality as tragic or hurtful, you really need to get over yourself. Just think about all the people you don’t like. Does it look like they are suffering as a result of your dislike of them? Or are they, rather, quite happy, rosy, and plump?

– choose a small group of people whom you really want to like you. Make sure everybody in this group really matters and is worth the effort. Then – and this is the most crucial part – establish the lengths you are willing to go to in order to please them. It is useful to write this down. What are the things you are never going to sacrifice to be liked even by these crucially important people? Make a list of such things and reread it on regular occasions.

People keep telling me that my all too methodical approach to interpersonal relationships is cold and even scary. But it works and that’s what matters. Right now I’m seeing a very good person of quite an advanced age being demolished personally and professionally because he can’t get over the need to please everybody in sight. And you know what is the only payback he gets from all this? People lose respect for him and trample on him with glee. Not all people, of course, but enough to make the poor man utterly miserable.

You are not a $100 bill. You are not supposed to be liked by everybody. The only person who really needs to like you is yourself. And everybody else can just go stand outside.

Christmas Shopping Advice

Aaron Clarey is a great guy with a wonderful sense of humor who always promotes my blog on his own very popular website. I want to try to return the favor, at least to a degree, and post this very funny video Aaron made with great Christmas shopping advice.

The only question I have for Aaron is what is the brand of the cigar he holds in the video. I love big cigars (in the literal sense, you dirty-minded readers), so I’m always interested in which brands people prefer.

P.S. The video is supposed to be funny, so let’s breathe deep and dust off our sense of humor.

P.P.S. Yes, Aaron’s political beliefs are very different from mine. But if he manages to get over that and promote my blog heavily, then I can rise to the occasion, as well.

To My Young Readers

I know I have many readers who are either in high school or in college, and I want to address them in this post.

Dear younger generation, you are wonderful kids who will do great things and make the world a better place. I meet so many amazing young folks both in real life and online that it makes me proud to share a planet with you. Leah Jane, Jamie (voxcorvegis), Pen, Benoni, Miriam, Brittany Ann, Lindsay are some of the young people who amaze me with their maturity, brilliance, and sincerity. I’m an educator, so I love young people (in a totally non-creepy way) and believe in them.

I have to tell you, however, that one thing that might prevent you from achieving the greatness you deserve is not your politics, your sexuality, your life choices, the MTV, the social networks, or video games. It’s sloppiness.

Let me explain. I have really phenomenal students this semester. I grumble sometimes, but the truth is that they are great.  They all have a lot of insight and curiosity. But, God, the carelessness is killing me.

On Wednesday, I received 56 final essays from my students. I had exhorted them on numerous occasions to observe the following format requirements:

– Times New Roman 12 pt font,
– 1 inch margins on all sides,
– page numbers in the right-hand corner of the page,
– nothing should be bold-typed,
– nothing should be italicized except the title of a novel.

Can you guess how many people out of 56 managed to fulfill all of these requirements?

One. A single person.

The requirements are listed in the syllabus, I explained them in class both in English and Spanish on at least 4 occasions, I showed two PowerPoints listing them, I wrote them on the board, I prepared a handout listing them, and I gave out a check list the students could use before submitting the essay. I also explained in detail why observing this format was important and why it would be a personal courtesy to me to observe it.

I don’t think I could have done more, yet I only managed to get through to a single individual. And this is not an isolated situation. This happens all the time.

This kind of carelessness makes one come off as disrespectful and lazy even when one is neither. In my experience, people who end up winning in the competition of life are not the most brilliant ones or the ones with the best people skills. It is always the ones who have the best attention to detail and who are the most careful, punctual, and meticulous. And this works both in one’s professional and personal life.

Let’s work together to eradicate carelessness and sloppiness as the nasty pests that they are!

The Best Line Ever About Petraeus

OK, this is totally the best line I read anywhere about the Petraeus affair:

Petraeus. Broadwell. Kelley. Allen. Love triangle . . . quadrangle. Whatever. Except. It’s not. A “love” whatever. Let’s acknowledge all the people we know for sure have been hurt so far: betrayed spouses and children; extended family; friends and colleagues, even neighbors.

When I imagined those betrayed and hurt neighbors, I almost fell over with laughter. Just picture a burly 50-year-old neighbor approaching Petraeus and telling him in a wounded voice that oozes reproach: “I always thought that if you were going to screw somebody on the side, you’d pick me. We have such a tight-knit community, yet you have to go and fuck this outsider. I always knew you were a loser, ever since your dog peed on my lawn.”

Betrayed children also sound funny in this context. Has there been any new development where Petraeus officially repudiated his own children and adopted Broadwell’s kids instead?

Read the rest of the linked article for an example of terrifying prudery.

How Often. .

How often do medical and obstetric society members actually engage with the home birth or the larger birth advocacy communities? Likewise, how often are home birth advocates invited to speak to a medical society, serve on a study group, or participate in the writing of a position statement? This insularity on each side fosters stereotyping of opponents, for example, the repeated referral by home birth opponents to certified professional midwives as “lay midwives.”

I’d say about just as often as snakeoil peddlers are invited to the conferences of actual doctors of medicine and as often as biologists allow creationists to participate in writing their position statements.

The reluctance of legitimate scholars to engage in debates with crazy charlatans is to the credit of said scholars. It is kind of weird to accuse them of not wasting their time on dangerous idiots.