Buffet nails it

A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy – NYTimes.com:

This outrage points to the necessity for more than a simple revision in upper-end tax rates, though that’s the place to start. I support President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers. However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 — maybe $500,000 or so.

Additionally, we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.

Above all, we should not postpone these changes in the name of “reforming” the tax code. True, changes are badly needed. We need to get rid of arrangements like “carried interest” that enable income from labor to be magically converted into capital gains. And it’s sickening that a Cayman Islands mail drop can be central to tax maneuvering by wealthy individuals and corporations.

But the reform of such complexities should not promote delay in our correcting simple and expensive inequities. We can’t let those who want to protect the privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything.

[I agree with everything he said in this piece.]

Problems with e-education

Thoughts on Amazon Whispercast:

Essentially, the eBook problem comes down to: you, the publisher, want me to buy everyone a brand new copy of the book. I’m happy to do that, but you want £9.99 per copy. We’re more used to paying £9.99 and giving it to 10 children over the course of years. Make your eBook £1 per copy and we can talk.

On the other hand, I’ll buy 30 copies at £9.99 but I need to be able to reallocate those books next year.

Is there a way to square this circle? Maybe.

Whispercast, like the iTunes Store, requires that each Kindle have a separate Amazon account associated with it. Unlike the iTunes Store, Whispercast can bulk-create these accounts for you, which is handy.

Perhaps the model is this: create 20 generic “First Grade” accounts (e.g. fg01@example.edu through fg20@example.edu) and buy 20 copies of the First Grade reading list. Have the students use that account for a year. When they move on, give the account and password to the next set of pupils coming in.

This is harder to do in the Apple world because the use of AppleID/iCloud is so pervasive across the system. With the Kindle system (at least on the e-Ink Kindles, if not the Fire), it would potentially be easier as there’s less actual data being stored in the user’s account. The pupil logging into the account the next year would – I presume – find the last owner’s book locations, highlights and notes in there but that’s hardly different to the common experience of getting someone else’s used textbook.

Such a deployment model might work in primary education – where everyone is in the same class, likely reading the same class novel at the same time. It doesn’t really work for secondary education unless you buy all the books for every account because the pupil using the account next year is unlikely to be taking the same mix of classes as the last pupil.

I don’t know whether Apple or Amazon is going to get this right first but the company who finally cracks it stands to win a lot of business the education market.

[Yet another mess to fix.]

Source: Fraser Speirs

Road Built Around House, Family Refuses to Leave

Road Built Around House, Family Refuses to Leave:

house in middle of road luo baogen Road Built Around House, Family Refuses to Leave

Luo Baogen and his wife refuse to leave their home in Wenling, Zhejiang, China because they believe that the relocation compensation offered by the government is not enough money for them to rebuild.

See more photos on Enpundit

Source: Design You Trust

[I wouldn’t want to live there, but I give them credit for not giving in. I also give folks credit for building the road anyway, although I think they could have done a prettier, safer job of it. Just because you’re stubborn doesn’t mean you can’t find an answer.]

Feeling grateful yet? Teenage poultry farmer dishes straight talk – The Denver Post

Feeling grateful yet? Teenage poultry farmer dishes straight talk – The Denver Post:

Last thing: Farming is very hard work. I don’t make a lot of money doing it, and people do not support what you are doing. I live out in the country. As new folks move in, they complain about the name of your farm, smells, mooing cows, bleating sheep and crowing roosters, even though these things were there before they built a million-dollar house and moved in. I do not plan on farming in the future.

If you want sustainable, wholesome, pasture-raised organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free food, you have to support it. You can not get these things by talking about it and not paying for it.

The next time you shop at a farmers market, think about what it cost me to grow it. Don’t ask me to take less and then tell me you can get it cheaper at a big-box store. I know you can — but it will not be as fresh or as good as what I have, and you won’t make me cry.

[Well that’s as straight up as any discussion on this topic is going to get.]

“Over the Top: The new war for TV”

“Over the Top: The new war for TV”:

As it is, I’ve been without cable/satellite for two years now, and I mostly don’t miss it, but I have very little interest in live sports. I’ve realized one big problem with the Apple TV approach, though. An application-centered interface paradigm is fine for a smartphone or tablet, but a television wants a content-centered interface. An icon for every service is passable (although not ideal) for replicating the channel surfing experience, but I want a screen which shows me all my subscriptions and favorites across every service on the device. If I want to answer the question “Are there any new episodes of ‘Castle’” I shouldn’t have to first answer “am I getting ‘Castle’ through iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, or the ABC app”.

[So filled with promise, so less than compelling. ]

Source: Coyote Tracks

Please design me a dog house

Please design me a dog house:

In June of 1956, Frank Lloyd Wright — a man posthumously recognised as “the greatest American architect of all time” by the AIA — received an unusual letter from 12-year-old Jim Berger, a boy looking to commission the design of a home for his dog, Eddie, by the same architect who designed his father’s house 6 years previous. Incredibly, Frank Lloyd Wright agreed and, as seen below, supplied a full set of drawings for “Eddie’s House” the next year. Construction was eventually completed by Jim’s father in 1963.

Eddie hated his new home. It was demolished in 1973.

The full exchange can be found below, along with a photo of the completed dog house. It was the smallest structure ever designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and possibly the least used.

[Remarkable.]

Source: Letters of Note

The Average Place on Earth

The Average Place on Earth:

Projections for the year 2050 predict that most of the 8 billion people on the planet will live in megacities, with populations over 30 million. And these megacity clusters will form a network made up of smaller cities over 1 million in population. But these incredibly dense clusters will weave through a countryside that is emptying. It is already common to find entire villages in China, India, and South America abandoned by its inhabitants who fled to the swelling cities, leaving behind a few old folks, or often, no one at all.

This is the pattern on Earth. Extremely dense and vast populations in a network of megacities connected to each other with nerves of roads and wires, woven over an empty landscape of wild land, marginal pastures, and lightly populated farms.

By 2050 and beyond, Earth will be a urban planet, while the average place on the planet will be nearly wild.

[Averages are tricky.]

Source: The Technium