Thursday, March 18, 2010

April 15th Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

For as long as most of our readers can remember April 15th has been a deeply dreaded date. A large portion of this hatred comes from the fat that on this date they are forced to see their hard earned money taken from them in the blink of an eye. This however isn’t the only reason the date invokes a feeling of uneasiness deep in the pit of our nations stomach. No, that arises from the plethora of intricate laws regarding what is/isn’t tax deductible. This dread has caused Americans to branch into two main categories 1) pay the full percentage of your income tax out of fear you will make an excessive deduction and will be audited. 2) pay a tax group to uncover minute and wordy laws in order to ensure every penny that can be deducted legally is.

However, this year I, in conjunction with Senator Harry Reid, plan on making things a hell of a lot easier for the average American.

That’s right, according to Harry Reid taxes are voluntary. So in the coming weeks as you fill out your tax forms, feel free to deduct the full amount of your income. In that little box that questions the reason for such a large deduction, simply write in “Harry Reid Voluntary Tax Rule”. (See disclaimer at the bottom of the page).

If this wasn’t a video of a high powered government official in charge of millions of dollars and millions of lives, it might actually be comical. Regardless of whether or not you approve of the welfare programs being discussed in the video, you should be able to acknowledge Reid’s thick as a brick, blatant ignorance, or his flat out lie. According to Reid (for those too lazy to watch the video), because the government allows us to fill out our own tax forms, we are volunteering when we fill out said forms. Reid argues that in other countries, taxes are automatically deducted from all profits, thus ignoring two things. 1) It is impossible for even the most intrusive government (short of one based on Orwell’s 1984) to learn of the average private transaction, let alone properly tax it. 2) Companies often withhold wages (Google Adsense) until a W2 (or other appropriate tax form) is filed out. As Jan Helfen points out, the government is graciously giving the option of prison or payment. Again you may agree with the current tax system and believe that taxes are what keep our country running. However to claim that we can choose not pay taxes is absurd. Just because you can sit on this portion of your income for eleven months before it is reposed, doesn’t make it volunteer work or charity when you finally pay.

Disclaimer: Not paying taxes or deducted 100% of your income via the Harry Reid rule or any of its variants, will result in an audit, prison, fine or other government sanction. If you choose to not file taxes be aware you are practicing civil disobedience and you will pay the price (and possibly reap the rewards of drawing attention to your belief system).

If you were interested in this article may I also suggest this video: Watch as Nancy Pelosi tries to explain why she is able to pay staffers below minimum wage, but someone desperate for a job at McDonalds (or any other low-skilled job) in tough economic times cannot offer their labor cheaper in order secure one of the limited number of jobs available.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Alternative Lullaby Series Rocks Youth Straight to the Therapist

As children we were all bombarded with lullabies to sooth us to sleep. Yet, despite a solid two straight years of listening to this genre few if any of us still follow its major artists. So why have we all abounded a sound that was so integral to us in our developmental years? Most would say because the style; the instruments, the beats, the harmony, and the lyrics are designed exclusively for babies. However, the aforementioned “most” would be wrong. The real reason for the lack of excitement about up and coming lullaby artists, is that they all play the same exact songs. Such a business plan has hindered any lullaby artist from cracking the charts or having any long term success. After two years of hearing nothing but “Rock –A-Bye Baby” , “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and “Hush, Little Baby” even the most simple minded are likely to get bored with and despise a song no matter how they change it up, what artists sings it or what instruments they use. Fortunately for music lovers everywhere some labels have realized that there is an adult lullaby market, and thus a reason to rework their traditional style.

Ironically the most thriving of these emerging Lullaby labels, takes its name directly from the often overplayed Rock-A-Bye Baby song. Keeping with tradition of the great lullaby artists of the past, Rockabye Baby utilizes key instrumentals, such as xylophones, glockenspiels, wind chimes, triangles, and light woodwinds, , all the while incorporating some ground-breaking uses of organs, mellotrons and keyboard. That being said, artists signed to the Rockabye Baby label are no more original in terms of creating songs. While the label certainly sent shockwaves through the music world with its recent innovative releases, ETS Daily cannot ignore the fact that all the artists signed are simply cover bands. Among recent albums are Lullaby Renditions of Queen,, Metallica, Radiohead, The Cure, Pink Floyd, Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Coldplay, Green Day, The Eagles, No Doubt, and Journey, however for time’s sake, I will simply cover “Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana”. Released in 2006, the album covers some of Nirvana’s biggest hits making , many of them hits of their own. The album starts with “In Bloom”, although the introduction is a bit off from the original, it is still a masterpiece symphonic agreement. Like all the songs on the label, the song is nearly identical note wise, and is merely stripped of its lyrics. Stripping the song of its lyrics was certainly a controversial move, but it was a logical one. Lyrically Nirvana songs rarely make sense and often deal with graphic details likely to frighten young children. That last point is an interesting one, considering instrumentally Rockabye baby had no such qualms regarding upsetting young listeners. Nearly every song on the album includes a deep piano/organ section which gives off pretty horrifying vibe, the best example comes in around :30 second of “Come As You Are”.

Admittedly, the first thing that comes to mind when hearing these eerie instrumental, is a demented circus. In my head I ice cream truck being driven by some sort of rouge circus crew, blaring music in an attempt to hypnotize children to do something undoubtedly evil (as in Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth).

However, this is by no means a criticism; in fact I commend Rockabye Baby for revitalizing a stale genera. More importantly, I thank them for realizing that it isn’t just infants who are in despite need of sleep, and that Adults too can utilize the relaxing vibes given off by the soothing yet eerie sounds of lullaby Lullaby isn’t music designed for newborns or infants, its merely a genre and like any genre some artist are designed for adults, some for children and some for all ages. . I am fairly certain playing this music for a child would cause vivid nightmares; however this is doesn’t mean Rockabye Baby should stop with these wondrous pieces of art. On the contrary I would love for them to cover all of Nirvana’s songs in this style and throw away any inhabitations about isolating younger listeners. As I said before, Rockabye Baby has a good business plan, and as such they heeded my advice before it was given. They have already covered such adult themed musicians as Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and plan on doing covers of Black Sabbath and Kayne West (Golddigger?). They have even done a cover of Guns N Roses’ Mr. Brownstone, granted there are no lyrics in their version, but it is still a song with deep ties to drug addiction (brownstone is street for heroin)and is certainly not designed for children. Such risqué moves have earned Rockabye Baby support from Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett , celebrities Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, and Denise Richard (once dated Bon Jovi Guitarist Richie Sambora).

Before I put my own stamp of approval on the this CD, I feel compelled to issue one complaint about it. Anyone who has heard of Nirvana in anyway shape or form has heard of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Yet somehow the creators of this cd have managed to mess up the famous and distorted opening rift. While the song certainly falls back into sync with the original after about the 30 second mark, it is extremely disheartening that they didn’t use some alternative instrument to achieve a more accurate sound. That being said the song really starts to come into its own around the 50 second mark and I suggest you give it a listen and come to your own judgment. Personally I enjoyed the album, and made it part of my collection. It’s helped me get through many a sleepless nights and I hope it can do the same for you.

I leave you with this Earlier I made a comment about these lullabies causing nightmares, while if you thought that was made try falling asleep to this.

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