company of three, black peppermint tea

Tag: books


by cloudier

Doing it tough, far from a typical Australian income

In The Australian’s piece, a couple on $200,000 a year (who admit they pay only 18 per cent tax) complain that they may be forced to get a nanny if their childcare subsidy is reduced.

Now, The Australian itself has called for reductions in ‘middle-class welfare’, so either the editors have changed their mind, or they have a misguided sense of what constitutes a middle income in modern Australia.

I don’t doubt that the family featured in The Australian’s story genuinely thinks they’re more-or-less typical, but they’re wrong. We all tend to judge what’s normal, or typical, with reference to those we work and socialise with. This leads the poor to underestimate the wealth of the rich, and leads the rich to overestimate the wealth of the poor. It also means that a lot of us tend to think we’re ‘middle class’ when we’re not.

Andrew Leigh (before he was an MP) wrote a great little paper on the effect that this misperception has on our public debate, called ‘The Political Economy of Tax Reform in Australia’. In it, he argued that:

Opinion leaders [do] not properly appreciate the distribution of income in Australia. For the most part, the taxation rates applying to most politicians, journalists, business executives and think-tank staffers (and indeed, to academic economists) are not those that apply to the average voter. In all these professions, six-figure salaries are common. Yet only 4.5 per cent of Australian adults have an income that exceeds $100,000 per year, and only 1.5 per cent have an income that exceeds $150,000 per year.

(The paper is from 2006, so the figures are a little out of date, but the principle hasn’t changed).

Leigh also, correctly, notes that “reporting of ‘average’ income in Australia focuses on a measure of earnings which is not that of the typical voter”. Journalists often use average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adults (AWOTE) as a measure of a typical income. This is misleading for several reasons.

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“Modern consumer capitalism will flourish as long as what people desire outpaces what they have.”

by cloudier

It is thus vital to the reproduction of the system that individuals are constantly made to feel dissatisfied with what they have.

I am reading a book called Growth Fetish and the most interesting parts so far for me are the parts about identity and marketing, so it’s like an expansion of this comment from Reddit plus some economic and political analysis. The title of the book comes from the obsession with economic growth and its association with greater quality of life and happiness, which is the most important assumption often made in society that is criticised in the book.

I read some reviews about it. One talked about how this book claimed to be a single dissenting voice in the oppressive world while pointing to many other books about similar ideas that have already been published. Others were inspired by the book but criticised the lack of actionable recommendations.

Also, I watched A Scanner Darkly. The animation was interesting but the movie wasn’t particularly interesting to me. Overall I felt confused. Maybe the book will fare better. I liked the soundtrack though.


by cloudier

George Takei Calls Out Anti-Gay Arkansas School Board Member

The way he says ‘douchebag‘ is excellent.

[image] Chinese: A story where every syllable is pronounced /shi/

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the joy of cheesecake

by bezzle

This book gives me the giggles.  It’s full of dry humour, especially for a recipe book.

…Perhaps you have been held back by the notion that anything that tastes so good must be awfully difficult to make.  Cheesefeathers!  Most cheesecakes are really quite easy to make…

“…If you beat the egg whites too long, their structure will collapse and the whites will begin to reliquify.  At this point, all is lost; they will not rise again.  Sneak them into an omelette, mash them in with the dog chow, or use them in a pommade for your hair if you like, but do not try to use them in a cheescake.  Start over.

Basic pie crust: …Another way is to place the crackers in a sturdy plastic bag and roll the bag on a bread board with a rolling pin.  This works well and also satisfies certain atavistic urges that might otherwise be expressed in less socially accepted ways.  In any event, remember that you want crumbs, not flour.

…High humidity is the enemy of meringues.  It will make your meringue weep and go limp.”

Chimpanzee cheesecake:  Your friends will go ape over this one.  The flavour of bananas is subtle but pervasive.  If you want a more pronounced banana taste, you’ll have to monkey with the recipe a bit…”

Eight eggs!  Your guest will crow over this one.  After a second helping, they will also sprout feathers and start laying eggs…

French cheesecake: The smoothest, richest, creamiest melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake ever…every bite is ecstasy.  To paraphrase J. P. Morgan, if you have to ask you much it costs, you can’t afford to make it, and if you have to ask how many calories it has per slice, then you can’t afford to eat it.  French double- and triple-crèmes are available in cheese specialty shops.  They cost an arm and a leg.

Those days of innocence?

by bezzle

My sister just told me a story:

“An older girl went up to a kindy kid, who had a $2 coin, and offered to swap a 50c coin for it, saying “Look how shiny it is!”  The kindy kid went along with the change.  The older girl ended up spending the money on iceblocks and chips at the canteen.”

I think the girl in the story is someone she knows. 

Anyway, the story has made me feel extremely angry towards her.  Especially because I can totally imagine a kid who doesn’t know the value of currency and different coins being proud of getting a shinier, larger coin.  And that just kinda broke my heart, because I can also imagine my brother being cluelessly scammed like that, actually, any little kid, and someone laughing off with the profits and showing off to their friends.

This is why it is not such a good idea to have smaller coins being worth more.

On another much more positive note, I have found a copy of The burning wire in Carlingford library and borrowed it!  Ok, intro:

The burning wire is the latest sequel in the Lincoln Rhyme series, which is in the forensic murder/thriller genre.  I love it!  It has hairpin plot twists, a lot of science and corpses full of clues.  Will be bingeing for the next day.