Archive | January, 2006

Tax-free week? How ’bout tax-free decade?

30 Jan

Albany instituted “tax free weeks” and proved that sometimes tax-cutting can be good for business. Because when you pack the Galleria during tax-free weeks, it has the effect of producing income for the patronized businesses – and if they profit, they pay tax on that. They pay their people – maybe even overtime – and they get taxed on that, so everybody kind of wins.

Anyhow, Pataki has been promising to abolish the tax on some clothing for years now, and in fact the law was supposed to be in effect by now, but it was suspended after 9/11 because the State was worried that revenue would plunge in the aftermath. How can you be “for” something, if it takes you five years to implement the bloody thing?

The state has a $2 billion surplus. Seems to me getting rid of that sales tax on clothes – a sales tax on essential items, not luxuries, is overdue.

Between Monday and Sunday, February fifth, the state will lift its four-percent tax on sales of clothing and footwear costing less than $110 per item. Many counties and cities also suspend their local sales tax for the week, which has been repeated in early September in previous years.

Under a law passed last year by legislators in Albany, statewide tax-free weeks may become history on April first — the deadline for a state budget. On April first, the state’s four-percent tax on clothing purchases is scheduled to be permanently eliminated.

But Governor Pataki’s is proposing to keep the state’s four-percent tax in place and go back to having two tax-free weeks a year, with the minimum for exempted items raising to $250.

Why? There is no sales tax on most essential food in your grocery store. (Check it out). So, why is there sales tax on essential clothing at your department store? It’s the most regressive aspect of this regressive taxation policy. Someone ask Paul Tokasz that.

And, now on a tangent, I know that lots of national chains won’t come to the Buffalo area because they perceive the whole damn place to be old, shrinking, dying, and poor, but we get loads of Canadians who come our way for our lower sales taxes, and some stores that just don’t exist in Canada. Oftentimes, given the current rate of exchange, items cost less here than they do there. So it boggles my mind that, say, Brooks Brothers or Nordstroms or even H&M couldn’t find room to grow in the Buffalo or Niagara area – not just for us locals, but for Ontario shoppers, as well.

What do you do when it’s raining like crazy?

30 Jan

You go to the movies, then you blog about it.

Jen saw Brokeback Mountain and gives it one “Meh”.

Marc from saw Underworld: Evolution and was unable to suspend disbelief for that hour and a half:

And damn it, if your gonna create a cool new toy like UV bullets, fucking use them properly in the movie please!! That’s all I have to say..

While my wife and daughter watched “Hoodwinked”, an animated take on the Little Red Riding Hood story (I was so not interested in that. Sue me. No point Anne Hathaway being in it if it’s animated. ‘Kay?) I got a ticket for “Matador” with Pierce Brosnan.

Now, I’m a huge Bond fan, and Brosnan is done with that role, and he’s generally played the suave, sophisticated sort in Remington Steele, Bond, and Thomas Crown. Not so in Matador. In fact, he plays his character with smarm.

I had no clue what the movie was about going in. The poster had what appeared to be a rifle sight on it, and Brosnan was in it, so I just guessed that it’d be ok. My wife told me he was a retired hit man or something. That’s all I knew.

There’s more to it than that, and it was a really interesting film. I’d describe it almost as a “reluctant buddy movie” but it was darkly hilarious and had a bit of a morality tale to it. Very well done, and very funny and touching.

Problem was, the audience was fricking dead and didn’t laugh at some pretty good, pretty obvious jokes. So that sucked.

But I’d recommend the film.

BBC Stylebook

30 Jan

Who knew it was online? I love that kind of stuff. I started being a bit of a grammar/spelling/punctuation stickler when I was forced to have those topics taught to me over several Saturdays back in about 8th or 9th grade. It’s a curse, but avoiding the splitting of infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions is a pretty benign one.

But what’s cool about this stylebook is that it has that loveable Brit snark:

Lake District
Mere, as in Windermere, means lake. The only lake in the district with Lake in its title is Bassenthwaite Lake.

is where our dead lie. “Morgue” belongs across the Atlantic.

a nasty, unnecessary word.

Political correctness
use your sense. Much PC terminology is ludicrous – “herstory” for “history”, for example. Pensioners remain pensioners, not senior citizens. But the crippled have become disabled people or indeed people with disabilities; those we used to refer as mentally handicapped are now more usually people with learning disabilities. Fires are dealt with by firefighters. Ambulances are driven by ambulance crews or paramedics. Rubbish is taken by refuse collectors etc etc. In the second and subsequent references to a woman, it is better to use the accepted titles – “Miss, Mrs” – if known, rather than “Ms”. But “Ms” is acceptable if the title isn’t known, or if the woman in question has made known her desire to be so titled.

Click the link. There are loads more.

HT Outside Counsel.

Top Gear : speak of the devil

29 Jan

Last week, I posted a couple of things about Top Gear – the most popular and best car show you’ve never seen. Discovery Channel owns the US rights and has, for the most part, squandered a wonderful opportunity. To date.

They’re working on an American version, but IMHO, if Clarkson isn’t in it, it’s gonna suck. (Read his car reviews at the Times [of London]).

Imagine American Idol without Cowell.

Well, here’s a fine howdy do. Last night I was channel-surfing and Discovery Science Channel aired a Brit episode of Top Gear. Well, not a clean Brit ep – it was amended a bit for the US audience (someday TV bigwigs will just air shit and let us figure out the lingo for ourselves. If you can’t figure out from the context of the video that a boot is a trunk, a bonnet is a hood, a saloon is a sedan, and that petrol is gasoline, then you’re probably not gonna bother watching this show anyhow).

But I digress.

I have the show DVRed now, so hopefully there will be more loaded up on the hard drive as the month progresses.

And, just so you know:

A 4-cylinder 2.0L Mitsubishi Evo VIII can keep up and even handles better than a 12-cylinder Lamborghini Murcielago; (here’s the video):

The Stig drove the Evo around the test track almost as fast as a Ferrari;

Jaguar, like Birmingham, is making a great comeback;

A Citroen Berlingo is a cooler car that is more versatile than most minivans;

It is decidedly impossible to kill a Toyota Hilux pickup truck. It will not drown, it will not be destroyed by falling, having a camper land on it, or by wrecking ball, and it will not even be stopped by fire.

If you like cars even a little bit, look for Top Gear.

A gallery opening

29 Jan

From Creative Buffalo:

Grand Opening of Chateau Buffalo
Work by Val Dunne
Friday February 3, 2006 7-10

Chateau Buffalo
1209 Hertel Avenue

It’s a great, great place. For me to poop on.

29 Jan

Enough Buffalo-bashing. Watch Triumph walk through Quebec City.

You wish

29 Jan

Via KT and Craig, I find this Canadian blogger’s reaction to Harper’s Conservatives’ victory in last week’s Canadian general election.

Setting aside the insinuation that Harper’s CP is as conservative as George W. Bush (we could only wish), and setting aside the patent cheap shot at our fair City, it’s a dumb statement.

First off, Buffalo doesn’t deserve cheap, thoughtless insults from the likes of this guy. I’ve had many friends – bloggers and non-bloggers – wax almost poetic about their love for our oft-maligned City and region. They don’t deserve it, either. I mean, Buffalo isn’t the Oktoberfest capital of the US or anything, but we do have Albright-Knox and Shea’s.

But factually, our region itself actually happens to be controlled almost exclusively by members of our Democratic Party. So, if you live in a Buffalo suburb, you’ve probably got a Dem Town Supervisor/Mayor, and a Dem County Legislator. So, if he actually was bummed about conservatives running things where he lives, he could do a lot worse than WNY.

But I think it was probably just a cheap shot at Buffalo. Too bad for him that he’d do that.

UPDATE: The author of that post comments on Craig’s site and says he didn’t mean it as an insult – that he could easily have substituted any American border town, but chose Buffalo out of proximity.

Fair enough. But Buffalo has become a punch line to too many jokes. So he can forgive us being suspicious and touchy.

To whom WILL they listen?

29 Jan

We already know they (for definition of “they”, insert yours here) won’t listen to liberal bloggers or Democratic Senators. We know they won’t listen to public opinion. We know they won’t listen to their longstanding allies and friends around the world – the ones they denigrate and insult as, e.g., “Old Europe.”

So, will they listen to one of their own? A conservative like Andrew Sullivan?

The U.S., under this president, now allows soldiers to kidnap the wives, girlfriends and even children of suspected insurgents in order to flush out the enemy. We saw some of this at Abu Ghraib, where relatives of alleged terrorists and insurgents were raped, abused and photographed to get them to lean on people outside the jail, or to blackmail them once they had left

He goes on:

I’m reminded of Fred Barnes’ description of president Bush’s leadership methods in his new book. All he cares about, Fred assures us, are the results, not the means. Fred thinks that’s a good thing. When torture, illegal wire-tapping, kidnapping, rape and murder of defenseless prisoners are the means, I beg to differ.

Here’s a link to his earlier post.

I know folks like PJ and maybe Hank will post a comment that insinuates that criticizing Bush’s torture policy is tantamount to treason, or, barring that, just shilling for the Islamofascists.

But think about this.

When you were a kid coming up – and someone (let’s say, for the sake of argument, a German University student with a “Atomkraft, nein Danke” sticker on the back of his moped wearing a Che t-shirt) suggested that the US tortured people and used blackmail and terror to get information from people, you’d have: 1. Clocked him in the mouth; or, 2. Argued vehemently that the US would never do such a thing.

But now it’s come out that we do. For real. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you sink to antidemocratic, illegal methods to protect your democracy….[I’ll let you finish that sentence].

And, BTW – the first person who says that Sullivan is just a self-loathing gay man or some other such drooling drivel gets a cookie.

One step at a time

29 Jan

“We’re starting phase one of developing a housing co-op,” said Eric Walker of PUSH Buffalo. PUSH stands for People United for Sustainable Housing.

This is how people can take their neighborhoods back.

“This house cleanup is the first step in demonstrating that we, as West Side residents, can be part of the physical transformation of our neighborhood,” Walker said. “We’re trying to get people from the community to show that direct investment in neighborhoods is the way to go.”

PUSH member Aaron Bartley said the message is that residents can start making changes in their neighborhoods.

“Today’s nothing complicated,” Bartley said. “We’re just getting the junk out. Our goal is by summer to have it rehabbed so the co-op can start.”


29 Jan

I put this story on my “relevance” scale, and it didn’t tip.

I’m politically unpersuaded with Antoine Thompson’s college-era NYNEX debts. The child support judgment is significantly more troubling, but the guy’s been in public office for a while, and now this comes bubbling up? What’s next? He farts in the tub?