Paris Hilton tax
Friday, June 8 2007
Money is powerful stuff. It's the distilled essence of human motivation. Have enough of it, and you can make people do anything you want them to do. It can also be a lethal poison. This is the conclusion of anyone who has ever done follow-ups on the winners of lotteries. If you thought you were miserable without ever winning the lottery, imagine how messed up your life would be if you could buy anything you wanted! Worse yet would be to live next door to a lottery winner. He's having all the fun, he's a Jones you'll never be able to keep up with, and until he spends down his windfall he's going to be an obnoxious presence in the neighborhood as he buys and crashes his way through a series of dream vehicles under the influence of all those fun new drugs he can afford.
Paris Hilton won the lottery the day she was born and she doesn't know and can't imagine any other way of life. She was, in a sense, poisoned by it in the womb like a crack baby. In The Simple Life, the reality show where she and frenemy Nicole Richie slummed in flyover country, most of show's tension came from her interactions with a somewhat extreme version of the world we live in, one full of obligations, dull routines, dirt, and the absence of bars on the cell phone. The news today of Paris Hilton's latest drama, where she was dragged weeping back to jail after somehow getting out prematurely for "a medical condition," probably led to one of the biggest, most bi-partisan outpourings of schadenfreude in the history of the United States. I wonder now if we can finally find the political will to rename "the Death tax" as "the Paris Hilton tax" and spare future heiresses her fate. Somehow I don't think we'd be hearing much about her if she had to earn a living with her particular skill set.
As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of so-called Nu Metal. The integration of rap and even R&B vocal styles in the context of testosterone-laden screaching reminds me of the documents I created after I got my first Macintosh. Just because I could use lots of fonts doesn't mean I should have. That said, while listening to my Outrunning the Blimps station on Pandora.com (check it out - they list all the songs I've thumbed-up and thumbed-down), I've developed a certain fondness for a band called Sugarcoma, which could probably best be described as a female-fronted Nu Metal band. They don't use rap vocal styles, but the heavy rhythm-centered arrangements and the occasional (though usually brief) screeching of the male backup vocalist make it easy to pigeonhole. All of the songs seem to follow nearly the same template: they start with the female vocals and then, either in the chorus or near the end, a little screeching is thrown in just so we know we're listening to Nu Metal and not, say, Riot Grrrl Rock or Girlie Goth. The female/male pretty/ugly dynamic here just seems to work, and I always enjoy the songs.
I bought some pseudoephedrine today after mistakenly buying the 12 hour time release kind the other day at Hannaford. That had been my first pseudoephedrine purchase since new laws went into effect, laws that require you to sign your name and show an ID every time you buy this substance, which can be used as a primary precursor in the synthesis of methamphetamine. As I'd signed the sheet at Hannaford, I'd joked with the pharmacist, "Now they know where to find my meth lab!" She'd sighed an exasperated sigh and said, "You know how much of this stuff you'd need?" I didn't know, but I assumed she meant I'd need a lot if I was making a lot.
Today I bought 48 name-brand Sudafeds at Target because the generic brand had been sold out. This only cost me something over six dollars. Had I bought the generic brand, it would have been less than three dollars, or less than six dollars for 96. That's a huge price reduction from what it used to cost (96 thirty milligram generic pseudoephedrine tablets had retailed for about $9 at Target). It must be that I'd been paying a huge premium to compensate for the toll shoplifting had been taking on the retail pseudoephedrine market. (I read an article some weeks ago at Slate.com claiming that it used to be the single-most shoplifted item - mostly taken by people working for meth labs). Now that it's impossible to shoplift, its price has come way down. My pseudoephedrine habit just got a whole lot cheaper!
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