Friday, October 20, 2017

These footnotes got a little out of hand but the point is this is cool music.

Last night I bought "Act 1- New Game" by Phillip Leon (son of writer extraordinaire* Andrew Leon). Andrew says it's good music to write to, and it is that -- it's got soundtrack written all over it -- but it's also just plain good music to do anything to.  You could listen to this music and go for a walk, or listen to this music and rail against rich people, or listen to this music and kneel for the National Anthem, or listen to this music and dream of the day when society finally stops letting rich f***s destroy the world and we can all be a little happier.

You can listen to the music and be a little happier, and for just $5** you can get the music for yourself and make Phillip Leon both a little happier, and a lot more likely to keep on making cool music like this.  Go buy your own copy here. 


**Come on it's FIVE BUCKS. Even I spent that much and I am the cheapest living human being.***

*** that's true. I won't buy a brown belt to wear with my brown pants because what am I the queen of England here?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Shut up about celebrities giving away a miniscule amount of their net worth.

After losing faith in Captain Hammer yesterday, I got up this morning to read this headline over my Frosted Flakes (TM):

Chris Long Will Donate All His 2017 Game Checks To Charitable Causes

It's all over the headlines, at least the headlines that deal with athletes.  Chris Long is apparently an NFL player on the Eagles. He will make $1,000,000 this year and has already given away six of his paychecks (of six games) with 10 to go. Says Deadspin:

Long will donate the money to “organizations supporting educational equity and opportunity” based in the three cities he’s played in: St. Louis, Boston, and Philadelphia. He used his first six game checks to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, Va., which means he will use his whole 2017 salary to educate others. Long is in the first year of a two-year, $4.5 million deal with the Eagles, and his base pay for the year is $1 million.
“I’m playing the entire 2017 NFL season without collecting income because I believe that education is the best gateway to a better tomorrow for EVERYONE in America,” Long said on his website. 

Apropos of what I said yesterday, though, Long has actually earned $88,000,000 in his career. He is giving away 1/88th of his total past earnings. He's about 30 years old. So if Chris Long lives to be 100, he will live another 70 years. If he never earns another penny again, he will have an average of $1,257,000 to spend each year for the next 70 years of his life.

His average earnings per year so far have been $9,798.000. Because of the way search engines work it is impossible to find out how much he might have donated in the past, so I can't comment on that.

People frequently justify paying millions of dollars to athletes by pointing out that they work very hard to do what they do, have short careers, and not everyone can do what they do. That is true of numerous other occupations, including lawyer and doctor and tax accountant and teacher. And while athletes careers are short, the fact that many of them make tens and hundreds of millions in a few years is not justified by a short career; most people do not make tens of millions in their lifetime.

Plus, Chris Long is the son of NFL and television star Howie Long, which means Chris had advantages growing up that many kids who aspire to be in the NFL do not have. He went to a private school where tuition starts, for pre-kindergarten, at $13,000+ per year, for example. He went to the University of Virginia as an undergraduate before going to the NFL as a 2nd overall draft pick. Going back to 1942, only 168 UVa players have ever played in the NFL. Is it possible that being the son of a former NFL player who had a television position at the time his son was playing helped attract the attention of NFL scouts to a college that places about 2 players per year on average into the NFL (out of 1,600 players total on active rosters at the start of the season?)

Deadspin, which is usually pretty good about pointing out hypocrisy in sports, played up the Chris Long story without batting an eye. But Chris Long's donation means very little in the life of Chris Long, who likely will have a long and fruitful career post-NFL as well, as a television personality or coach, and who already has earned more money than 10 other men will in their lifetime. Chris Long's million-dollar donation also means very little in the life of those who depend on donations for education.

In 2012, the Washington Post published an article on how grossly underfunded public schools are. In 2017 Complex published essentially the same story, updated.  America spends less than $10,000 per year, on average, per public school child. Attending an NFL game costs a fan, on average, $209 per game.    With 8 home games per year, an average NFL fan spends in excess of $1,600 just watching football. The Philadelphia Eagles average 69,000 fans per game; each home game you see Chris Long play in means that people voluntarily spent $14,421,000 that day alone to attend that game. If the Philadelphia Eagles (a company valued at $2,650,000,000 -- that's two billion) donated one game worth of attendance per year, they could increase public school spending by $14,00,000 per year. If each of the 32 NFL teams did that, it would amount to $461,472,000 worth of extra school spending.

The Philadelphia Eagles' owner, Jeff Lurie, is worth $2,000,000,000. If he would give up 1% of his money the way Chris Long gave up 1% of his, an extra $200,000,000 would be given to education.

So Chris Long's self-aggrandizing donation costs him little and does very little for public education in this country. And Chris Long's dedication to public education is questionable in the first place; not only did he go to private school, but he endorsed Gary Johnson in the 2016 election. Gary Johnson wanted to get rid of the Department of Education and wanted to privatize public education in New Mexico using the voucher system. Sound familiar? It's essentially the Trump/Scott Walker plan to dismantle public education.

In the end, Chris Long gets a ton of publicity to top off the Super Bowl ring he lucked into last year, all in exchange for making a 'sacrifice' that isn't. Chris Long is a phony and people who give him attention for this are playing into the myth that celebrities are worth celebrating.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Technically his character in "Firefly" had been fighting on the wrong side in that war, too.

Celebrities make millions of dollars, and lord it over regular people like us. While we (and I in particular) frequently rail against the billionaires who now run the country officially and previously and soon will run it unofficially when they return to their day jobs, it's important to remember that 'celebrities,' about whom there is little to celebrate, as they contribute nothing to life in any meaningful way, also have millions upon millions of dollars which they use selfishly.

And do not tell me that "celebrities" donate millions of dollars; a famous person who has $100,000,000 and donates $1,000,000 of that has donated 1% of his or her wealth, which is a miniscule amount, especially considering that the person would be left with $99,000,000, which is more money than any one person can spend in a lifetime and more than any one person should be allowed to have.  If you make $100,000 per year and donate $1,000 of your money to charity, you've made the same percentage donation, but have hurt yourself worse than the celeb who donates 1%, because you are left with only $99,000 and must go on working and earning money to continue to live; a 'celebrity' who is left with "only" $99,000,000 need never lift a finger again, literally. 

"Celebrities" make it worse when they use their star power to demand money from us not just for entertainment, but for charity, rather than simply contributing their own money and shutting up about it. If you call in to a charity and donate $100 because Seth Myers asked you to, do you get a raise at work and more attention from your boss? Likely not. But because the 'celebrity' was on TV, people will buy their album or watch their movie or whatever. So shut up about celebrity charity work, too.

This whole rant was set off by Captain Hammer's self-satisfied smug Instagram post there. I saw that just before I left for work this morning, and it enraged me. I love to travel. I love it. It is one of my favorite things to do. I don't get much of a chance to travel, though, as I had to point out to Captain Hammer in my responses:

I'd post more, but it's 8:20 a.m. and I have on my agenda today an appeal in a foreclosure case and then working to keep a client from being evicted from her house. After that I will probably work a bit on helping people whose cars were repossessed or whose kids were bullied at school, until I go home tonight to see if Mr F will sleep through the night at all, as he's not sleeping again -- hasn't slept well 6 of the last 7 days and slept only about 2 hours last night -- and we don't know why. 

But yeah after that I'll probably contact my travel agent and use some of the millions of bucks I earned pretending to be a space captain so that I can go jet around the world and crap all over people who work for a living.