Maiello: Where Your Tax Dollars Go
Doc Cleveland: Copyright vs. Truth
The Man That Didn't Shoot Liberty Valance
Tom Doniphon respects Libertarian (Liberty) Valance's right to live life his own way, as long as Valance doesn't bother him. After killing attorney Stoddard and most of the townsfolk, Valance eventually dies of cirrhosis.
A Fistful of Gold Eagles
The Man With No Government ID arrives in a town where two leading families, the Rojos and Baxters, are each printing their own currency not tied to the gold standard. He maneuvers each side's forces into killing off the other, then takes the gold.
The Good Libertarian, the Bad Libertarian and the Ugly Libertarian
I took another quick look at Roger Ebert's site and ran across his top twenty list of documentaries released in 2011. Though I was vaguely aware that someone had done a documentary of Conan O'Brien, I hadn't heard a thing about the rest of them, including The Interrupters, above.
Now is the time for resolutions, exercise and diets - or so we are told in just about every media outlet. But why is this so?
Walking through Barnes and Noble a year or two ago, I noticed Fat History, written by my college professor Peter N Stearns. I'd enjoyed his classes, so I bought the book. I've started and stopped reading it on light rail several times since then, and am still only about halfway through it. I'd probably do about as well dieting.
In his history courses, Stearns generally taught us how things really were then, as opposed to how we believed they were, and how we got to how things are now. One course was called Sex and Death, another Work and Leisure. "Then" was usually the years immediately before the Industrial Revolution, and Stearns would lecture about how and why our attitudes had changed since preindustrial times.  [Read more]
The weekend before before Xmas I watched some classic films I had seen many times before - Holiday Inn in black and white, White Christmas in color - but one morning TCM showed All Mine To Give, based on the true story of a Scots couple settling in Wisconsin in the 1850s. Played by Glynis Johns and Cameron Mitchell, the couple worked hard, raised a cabin with help from their neighbors, prospered and brought five or six children into the new country - the American dream. But first the father, and then the mother took sick and died while the children were still quite young, and the oldest son, all of thirteen, followed his mother's wish that he find families to adopt each child. It was heart-rending to see the boy pulling an empty sleigh at the end of the film, on his way to work in a lumber camp, but at least they had neighbors with compassion. [Read more]
Named for the famous revolutionary who was stabbed in the bath, Marat Safin was about as talented and powerful as anyone that has played tennis. While the he earned a handful of good results on the tour, like defeating Sampras in the 2000 US Open and briefly claiming the #1 ranking, the rumor was that he spent too much time satisfying his female fans. Though charming off-court, he was known for angry outbursts on court and claims to have smashed over a thousand racquets. He once played the Hopman Cup, "sporting a bandaged right thumb, two black eyes, a blood-filled left eye, and a cut near his right eye, all suffered in a fight several weeks earlier in Moscow."
So he's well prepared for a life in Russian politics.
Marat Safin Reveals His Plans for His Future [Read more]
I got another Keystone XL (KXL) email this morning, but it wasn't from Duncan Meisel or Bill McKibben: [Read more]
Thank you for writing. President Obama has heard from many Americans concerning the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project, and we appreciate hearing from you.
The President is committed to creating the most open and transparent Government in American history, and values your input. Given your interest in this matter, you may be interested in reading a recent official White House response to a petition on this issue. To learn more, please visit: www.WhiteHouse.gov/Energy.
Thank you, again, for writing.
The White House
Some live tennis is being played, but in a series called Love-30, the Tennis Channel has been mostly rebroadcasting the 30 best matches of the year. There certainly is live controversy Down Under, though, in advance of the Australian Open. On Tennis Channel's news crawler, I caught a glimpse of a story about players being fined $75K for playing the Hopman Cup, an exhibition tournament named after the legendary Aussie tennis coach.
Exhibitions have long been controversial. In 1991, Monica Seles ticked off a lot of people when she withdrew from Wimbledon, citing an injury, only to play an exo in Mahwah NJ for a guaranteed six-figure payday. There's no income equality in tennis. Once they've succeeded on the tour, top players can make stress-free money playing exos, but the tour and the tournament organizers need those top players to attract crowds that keep their tournaments profitable, and claim that without the tour, there would be no top players. Tennis politics is truly Byzantine. [Read more]
I don't know who dubbed me "dag's doomer" over the masthead last week, but I had to laugh because I think of doomers as those guys that are predicting an imminent meltdown of society (or its cheese) but will gladly sell gold, shotguns and freeze-dried food to all comers. We're in the time of year when radio stations replay the classic songs, tv stations replay the classic movies, newspapers tally celebrity deaths, and doomers tell us just how lucky we were this year but just how bad next year will be. I'm sure James Kunstler, Dr (Doom) Nouriel Roubini, et al, will not disappoint us in the doomsaying department, but let's face it, folks, things are already bad right now. As Joseph Stiglitz writes in Vanity Fair:
It has now been almost five years since the bursting of the housing bubble, and four years since the onset of the recession. There are 6.6 million fewer jobs in the United States than there were four years ago. Some 23 million Americans who would like to work full-time cannot get a job. Almost half of those who are unemployed have been unemployed long-term. Wages are falling - the real income of a typical American household is now below the level it was in 1997.