Adam Ruins Taxes

And another lobby makes life harder and more expensive than necessary. I like the idea of Return-Free Filing.

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McDonald’s Hot Coffee Suit

For the whole truth on the legendary lawsuit against McDonald’s watch the video above. As with all the Adam Ruins Everything videos’ Adam Conover will see that the scales fall from your eyes and the truth comes to light.

I’m not kidding, you should see this and spread the truth.

The Kill

emile-zola-the-kill

Émile Zola continues his stories of the Rougon-Marquart clan with The Kill (La Curée), which tells the story of Aristide Rougon, who is introduced to readers in The Fortune of the Rougon-Marquart’s as a slothful (accent on full) son of the matriarch of this clan. Aristide changes his name to Saccard when the gets to Paris. He hits his well connected brother to get a cushy government job with loads of status. He’s disappointed at first with apparently low level job till he realizes that he will get all sorts of information on city plans that enable him to make real estate deals, quite questionably ethically ones, that will get him a fortune. Saccard is slimy for sure, but the house of cards he sets up is compelling. As a reader, I was just wondering when this all would fall.

Along with Saccard, his second wife Renée is equally questionable ethically. She’s materialistic, superficial, self absorbed and incapable of loyalty. The marriage was arranged to get Renée out of trouble. Her early life was pitiful, but by the time of the story she’s in control and for much of the story rather powerful and independent. Her undoing is her relationship with Saccard’s son.

The writing is beautiful and this portrait of a corrupt society feels real and moves quickly. It was fascinating to learn about the corrupt real estate market of 19th century France. Wall Street didn’t invent financial malfeasance..

 

 

 

A Touch of Sin

a-touch-of-sin

A Touch of Sin , directed by Jian Zhangke, blew me away.

I think I was expecting a movie about love affairs or something with a touch, i.e. a little corruption.

The film could be called A Massive Dose of Sin as it dramatizes four true events in modern China. True events, my mind still swirls.

The film features four stories that overlap a tad. First we see a villager who’s fed up with the corrupt village chief who promised that proceeds from the sale of a mine would be shared with the villagers. While the chief travels by private jet and owns a luxury sedan, the villagers have netted zero. When trying to speak to the chief gets him no where, the villager turns to violence — in a big way.

A Touch of Sin - Stills - Lian Rong (Li Meng) 02 Copyright Xstream Pictures (Beijing)

Later we meet a professional thief who returns to his village for his mother’s 70th birthday, a mistress who gives her lover an ultimatum and a factory worker who heads to a bigger city, with brighter lights and more action. None of these characters fare well. They get caught in the wheels of the greed of modern China. There’s plenty of violence and blood in each story, which I still am stunned that they’re all true. The cinematography is outstanding and the dialog spare. Jia shows us these tales and leaves us with little commentary or preaching on what to think about the brutality. The scenes all feel so real, so real that it’s scary.

A Touch of Sin won for best screenplay at Cannes in 2013.

I’m glad I saw it, but watching a second time would be too much for me.

Word of the Week

peculation, n. ‘ The appropriation of money or property held in trust for another by a servant, employee, or official; esp. the embezzlement of public funds belonging to a ruler, state, or government. Also: an instance of this.’
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌpɛkjᵿˈleɪʃn/, U.S. /ˌpɛkjəˈleɪʃ(ə)n/
Etymology: < post-classical Latin peculatio embezzlement of public money or property (5th cent.) < classical Latin pecūlārī peculate v. + -ātio -ation suffix. Compare earlier peculate n., and later peculate v.
Somewhat formal in later use. The appropriation of money or property held in trust for another by a servant, employee, or official; esp. the embezzlement of public funds belonging to a ruler, state, or government. Also: an instance of this.1658 E. Phillips New World Eng. Words, Peculation, a robbing of the Prince or Common-wealth.
1732 Gentleman’s Mag. Dec. 1094/2 Do they punish Bribery and Peculation in their own Creatures and Friends?
1779 J. Watt Let. 3 Mar. in Partners in Sci. (1970) 56 The person in Office there has either been guilty of peculation or of gross neglect of duty.
1844 U.S. Mag. & Democratic Rev. Mar. 238 [He] had just forwarded to the Committee written proof of peculations committed by Fouché de Nantes.
1874 J. R. Green Short Hist. Eng. People ix. §9. 700 Marlborough was dismissed from his command, charged with peculation, and condemned.
1950 New Yorker 30 Sept. 32/2 Mrs. Elkin’s voice dropped to the low, gemütlich whisper reserved for obstetrics, cancer, and the peculations of servant girls.
1994 Daily Tel. 28 Nov. 22/1 It would no longer tolerate a form of politics that favoured politicians above people and peculation above principles.

Mooncakes

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival in China and the common gift is mooncakes. Above you see the ones my school gave me. Throughout the neighborhood there are vendors selling these cakes, which I’ve learned can be used as a secondary currency creating problems of corruption.

I don’t like the one’s with bean paste, but the nut-filled ones are okay. The trick for me is to eat about a quarter of a cake a day. They’re pretty heavy and the sweetness can get excessive.