I Disagree with Loomis Somewhat

Today I saw this post by Erik Loomis at the Lawyers, Guns, and Money Blog. It is a brief rant in response to Rand Paul’s absurd claim that taxation of oil companies is, well, I’ll let the Dim Son say it himself:

Instead of punishing them, you should want to encourage them. I would think you would want to say to the oil companies, “What obstacles are there to you making more money?” And hiring more people. Instead they say, “No, we must punish them. We must tax them more to make things fair.” This whole thing about fairness is so misguided and gotten out of hand.

Note: that is the same quote Loomis used.

Here is the response:

Dear Big Oil Executives,

My name is Erik Loomis. I like to drive and heat my home and eat. Because of that, I really want you to profit off of me. I was thinking about eating three meals a day this year, but it’s really more important that your shareholders kick some more indigenous people in Ecuador off their land so you can maximize profits. …

I have a problem here with one little word. Shareholders. This is something that so many people have somehow managed to miss in the last couple of decades. Shareholders are not the recipients of large profits. Sure the shareholders get thrown a bone in the form of some fraction of the declared profits. What fraction, though, of the would-be profits go directly into the pockets of executives and members of various boards? I would love to see what fraction of total income of those companies is siphoned off by these vultures. Especially telling would be what the profits would be if the CEO-to-janitor pay ratio resembled that of 1950.

Look at a listing of boards of directors and you will see a few names pop up in more than one. How can an individual be an expert in multiple unrelated industries? Investigate deeply enough, and you will notice a real pattern. A pattern, that is, of political connections. The current “board of directors” system of large corporations is the definition of crony capitalism.

Outdated Information on Kilbourne Hole

Oops. This weekend, I discovered that an entry I had for a local extinct volcano called Kilbourne Hole had wrong directions. They were correct when we posted them, but a couple of years ago some construction was done that resulted in an alteration of the path. As well, one of the numbered county roads got an actual name instead. I will have to update that. We made sure to get pictures of the intersections on the way out along with the mileage at each turn.

Anyway, I decided to take along a prop. I got a nice brass and wood spyglass for Christmas. So I wanted to see if I could get a picture of my son using the scope. In the desert.

I trimmed it so that he was the only one in the picture, but then I thought a close up might be a worthy avatar picture:

We’ll see if I can figure out how to do the avatar thing.

On Art and Artists

While listening to a recent episode of The Skeptic Zone podcast, I heard a familiar question: how do you react when an artist, whose work you enjoy, turns out to be a kook?

The next day, I saw James Brown wins this week’s Roman Polanski award for “great art being created by really bad people.” article at the Lawyers, Guns, and Money blog. I thought it was interesting in that the Roman Polanski comparison was exactly what I had thought of. At work I was once discussing great movies with a couple of colleagues. I asked one individual his thoughts on “The Shawshank Redemption.” He said he “used to like it, until Tim Robbins …” and went on to claim some sort of treasonous statement or other had been made by the actor. Up to that point, it hadn’t really occurred to me that people would judge art based on their feelings about the artists. It may be news to some people, but many great actors, directors, designers, architects, athletes, etc. are terrible people. How, though, is that an issue.

I recalled having read about the “Piss Christ.” At the time, I felt like it was absurd in that it wasn’t artistic. The only emotion it evoked was in the form of outrage that depended critically on the viewer knowing the yellow color was from urine. I thought it was every bit as artistic as a teenager defecating on someone’s car.

My answer to the original question is that good art (a good performance, etc.) should only be judged on its own merits.

Sometimes I Hate Good Satire

One of my favorite reads lately is former Bush speechwriter David Frum. Today he linked to a John Oliver bit from the Daily Show. It was insightful and painful to tears. It was every bit as biting as A Modest Proposal.

Part 1

Part 2

Interestingly, Frum makes some points against Oliver’s presentation that are worth a second look. Nevertheless, I am glad that he gave me the opportunity to review Oliver’s presentation. I’m not sure I necessarily forgive Frum for adding “Axis of Evil” to the American lexicon, but I do appreciate that he is willing to link to things of which he disapproves. I mean that sincerely. For being a big jerk, David Frum seems to be a pretty good guy. I also appreciate that his spelling and grammar are generally correct. It’s possible that that is owed more to an editor, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes when I fear for the lost art of political commentary, the Daily Show provides relief.

Pierce on Bobby Jindal

From Charles Pierce at Esquire:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be your vice-president. (He may also want to be your president, too, but being your vice-president first is an easy way to do that.) His first audition for the second slot was to become the prime surrogate for the relentless juggernaut that was the Rick Perry campaign.

(This was a juggernaut only in the sense that people watched Perry speak in the debates and asked each other, “Is he hitting the jug or not?” Thank you. I’ll be back for the late show.)