Many months ago I ran a game with my son to test Fistful of TOWs 3. The game was of a Soviet T80 tank regiment assault on two companies of West German Leopard 1A4s. My son played the Soviets and I played the West Germans.
The Soviets attempted to flank the Germans from both sides and ended up destroying the German defenders, though at a loss of nearly half the regiment. In retrospect, the center battalion should have held off its attack until North and South battalions commenced their attack. Amazingly, the last stand of the center tank battalion managed to survive its morale check. I put up a slide show of the game.
In addition to this game, I ran another game that I will post about later. I haven't had much time to game, though I painted my LeClercs and YPR-765s.
Even land lines aren't safe as Verizon will allow police to:
Change the number for a landline too and give the new number only to them;
Set an account so that if someone picks up a landline to call out, it
automatically dials a designated law enforcement number—and no one else;
Prevent all outgoing calls or do various things to force a number out of
service—from straight-up interrupting a call to sending a 3-decibel
sound on the phone line to irritate the caller so he/she hangs up.
Charming world we are building. As Franklin is quoted as saying:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
The thing that struck me about the parody Klingon Style video is how much of the commentary of the original (read the article Viral vid ‘Gangnam Style’ critiques Korea’s extreme inequality to understand) was lost. It follows the original faithfully, but by changing the context from present day South Korea to Star Trek, it loses the original video's meaning.
However, this remix with North Korean government video shifts the context, but doesn't change the meaning as much:
For me, the closest remix that comes close to the meaning of PSY's original is this one:
Of course, ultimately, the objective of any of these videos is to entertain, and remixing does not require that the meaning of the original be retained. The whole series of parody clips of Hitler reacting to various current events from the movie Downfall is one of the best cases. So of course it should come as no surprise there is a Hitler Style remix using clips from the Downfall movie with the Gangnam Style sound track.
The fact that the Gangnam Style parodies exist and aren't being removed by DMCA takedown orders, seems to be because PSY realizes that the parodies get people to watch the original (or its manyvariations) and that gets people to buy the song. After all it is #2 on the Billboard charts. Perhaps the recording companies and the RIAA will finally clue into this and stop trying to get Congress to pass censorship and spying laws like SOPA.
I tend to borrow and remix from the thoughts of TechDirt founder Mike Masnick, Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge, science fiction writer Cory Doctorow and cartoonist and Question Copyright founder Nina Paley when thinking about how copyright and patent laws are increasingly obsolete and counter productive not only to our economy but to our freedom as well. However, a recent discussion about International Talk Like a Pirate Day prompted me to write up a, likely incomplete, summary of my thoughts. So here goes:
"It is more complex than the idea that people want to steal from musicians.
We have to keep in mind that the existing music system established a few gatekeepers that were able to capture much of the money we pay for music. The order that people got paid was:
first the music industry (esp. the big players),
second the small number of musicians who "made it",
third a somewhat larger number of musicians who were luckly to get slightly better than minimum wage,
finally the vast majority made no money at all or did it for the love of playing music.
Now, with the Internet, musicians are able to connect with their fans and ask them to support the music (and musicians) they love directly. Gatekeepers are going away as a result and musicians will be better off.
Will all musicians thrive? No, but more will do better than their processors did.
Will musicians need to look at other ways of getting fans to support them, than buying the music that can be easily copied? Yes. Tours are one means. Using tools like Kickstarter to have fans pay for musicians to create something new is another. Selling the unique and scarce items that musicians can create will be more common: suggesting the background of a song, personal concerts, signed disks, individual frames of music videos are but a few methods that could be tried and often have been tried successfully.
Leading all this is that people like to create, and now more people have the tools and ability to develop the skills they need to create. 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Some of it is a copy, some is remixed, but most of the videos are ones that people create for their friends or to express themselves. For me, a future where more people can create and share is exciting and better than a world of gatekeepers and big name musicians.
Ultimately, the only way we will maintain this old and dying system is to spy on what everyone sends out over the Internet, censor our communications and lock every digital file so that no one can share. That is the world the huge entertainment companies and their mouthpieces such as the RIAA, MPAA and Chamber of Commerce want and it would be a sad, poor world indeed.
I refuse to give up my freedom so that a few gatekeepers and stick-in-the-mud musicians don't have to change and innovate."
Thankfully the Artic Sea Ice Blog went over those maps and the latest satellite images and pointed out that the extent of the ice cap now is still much smaller than it was in the old maps. But the comments were even better since one of the commentators pointed to this map that overlays the satellite data on the 1938 map:
One needs to be careful when comparing the current maps, which are more accurate in both space and time, with the older maps which the reflect the more limited ability people had to observe the North Pole ice cap.
Even still, it makes the point quite vividly, doesn't it?
I am working with others to hold a CryptoParty on Sunday, Oct. 21 from noon-6pm. It will be held at The Sprouts, 339R Summer St., Somerville near Davis Square and the Davis Square MBTA stop.
We are planning to hold hands-on workshops on topics such as:
I didn't intend to have my next post focus on arbitrage and rentiers, but as I prepared to deal with several items I have put off in favor of sleeping the last few days, I just couldn't resist.
Last night, my wife was watching Market Warriors, a PBS show that seems to have been spun off from Antiques Roadshow. Various intermediate buyers/sellers comb flea markets and try to get the best price they can on the antiques they buy so in order to sell them at auction for a higher price. They have various constraints they have to abide by. In between the haggling, the narrator makes comments on the buying/selling process, negotiations and something about the items the participants have chosen.
They should have just called the show Arbitrage, as striped of the commentary, that is all the participants are doing. As they Marxists' M-C-M' equation says, they are using money to buy commodities to make more money. Watching stock or bond traders negotiate their deals would have been far more exciting and illuminating about the inner purpose of financial capitalism.
But instead of supporting productive industry by extending credit to increase tangible capital investment, the banking system has extended credit mainly (about 80 percent in the United States and most English-speaking countries) to buy real estate and load it down with debt. The result is that rental income is used to pay interest to the banks rather than to pay taxes. This forces governments to tax wages, profits and sales. That increases the cost of living and doing business, on top of the interest charge.
In search of this loan market, banks have come to back untaxing real estate and deregulating monopolies, so that their economic rent can be paid to the banks as interest by customers eager buy these rights – and charge even higher rents or raise prices even further without making a new capital investment of their own. Instead of financing industry, U.S. banks don’t make loans for what can be produced in the future. They make loans against collateral already in place – including entire companies with high-interest “junk” bonds. The target company is obliged to pay the debt that the corporate raider takes on. The raider then is “free” to downsize and outsource the work force, squeeze the budget and hope to come out with a capital gain after paying off the banks and bondholders. The process is more extractive than productive.
While the financial industry has led the way in extracting economic rents from their customers and other sectors of the economy, other sectors are catching up. Increasingly we see patents being used to extract economic rents, whether with the Apple-Samsung ruling or with patent trolls, rather than by actually innovating and creating more useful products.
With artbitrage covered, perhaps PBS will come up with a new show that extolls the virtues of rent seeking. I think Wealthy Looters would be a good title.
The question for us, though, is whether we want an economy that encourages invovation and spreading the wealth we all create as widely as possible or whether we want a rentier tollbooth economy controlled and milked by the wealthy.
A while ago I put together a spreadsheet of the tax rates that people at different income classes paid and kept meaning to post it once I looked at similar data from the 1950s or 1960s, when the actual tax rates that the wealthy paid were much higher. However, with the latest Romney clandestine video, it seemed a fitting time to post it.
The data is from 2007 and it includes Federal, State and Local taxes. My sources were:
You can find my google spreadsheet with all of the numbers (as well as some extrapolations if you remove certain tax breaks) here. I had to do some calculations to break out some of the higher income ranges for the Federal data, but the computations are pretty straightforward.
Before I go to the charts, a bit of commentary.
State taxes, especially sales and property, are regressive and that helps to skew the taxes so the poor pay more and the wealthy less. Some states have a high enough income tax to offset that disparity, but many states do not have an income tax, or have a flat tax, such Massachusetts.
FICA (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) taxes are payroll taxes that only apply to wage income, but the total amount a tax payer has to pay is capped at $110,100 of income (as of 2012). However, the Earned Income Tax Credit helps to offset the FICA taxes and you can see that from the Federal tax rate chart below where income tax rates are negative for those earning less than $18,000. Also, the long-term capital gains taxes are paid at a flat rate that is not progressive, unlike Federal income taxes which rise with the income of the tax payer.
These issues, as well as others, ensure that the tax rates the wealthy pay are not that much higher than someone in the middle class.
On to the summary charts.
State, Local & Federal Tax Rate by Income Range
State & Local Tax Rate by Income Range
Federal Tax Rate by Income Range
I see via Ezra Klein (via friends on Facebook) that Citizens for Tax Justice already has this info in a summary form for 2011. I'll poke around and see if they have the rates for the 1950s and 1960s.
Pictures of various posters from "The Graphic Imperative: An Exhibition of International Posters for Peace, Social Justice and the Environment"
I took these pictures at the exhibition at the Massachusetts College of Art on November 5th, 2005.
The Green-Rainbow Party was excluded from Art Beat 2005. As such we setup a table on the street with chalk and asked Art Beat participants to supply their own art for peace and freedom. This is a large part of the art work or statements that people produced.