28 09 2010

Gentlemen, here’s a manga (comic book story) from Japan It’s been translated into English. Its title is Ane Doki. It comes from a manga magazine aimed at older boys. It’s a combination of a very touching story, a funny story about a weird relationship, and a sexy story.

The drawing is great too:

I’m betting that once you start reading it you’ll be hooked.
Per Japanese writing convention, the panels on an individual page proceed from right to left.
Here’s the place to start:



Reconciling With An Old Love

12 06 2010


She was so unsatisfactory in so many ways that for many years I looked back on my time with her with resentment, almost hatred. True, she had a lot to teach me that I very much craved to learn, and I gloried in learning it. Under her tutelage the thinking side of me grew by leaps and bounds.

But my emotional side languished. At an age when a person’s life revolves around relationships with others — how to  start them and develop them, how to handle the details of them, and how to deal with the depth of emotion they can cause — I came on the scene too stunted to pursue that side of my development and left it just as stunted.

Major depression ensued — not surprisingly. And for years  after it went into remission I couldn’t remember my time with her without also remembering the loneliness that had been my only companion for most of that part of my youth.

That mental association became automatic with me, and always painful, so when she tried to communicate with me over the years I didn’t want to hear from her. I threw away all her letters. And when she needed help I said, in my poverty of wealth and spirit, ” Go get it from your foster children who’ve got rich. I never developed the social skills needed to get wealth and power, and I blame you for that, damn you! Fuck off!”

Yes, my alma mater presided over a bad, bad period of my life! Through the luck of my having had a martinet mother, I had gotten straight “A”s through all my school years. And when in 1966 (!) Columbia University sent a representative to my little town looking for graduating seniors who could help it put together a class not made up just of  kids from New York City, I was ready to accept their offered scholarship and join up. I shook the dust of  little East Texas town off my boots and headed East…

Only to discover, aside from the contents of a truly terrific education…my own sweet self. For reasons I now understand, but couldn’t then guess, I couldn’t relate to anyone I met in that New York City college. I didn’t make friends and didn’t date. The reasons for those deficits had nothing to do with Columbia and little to do with the people I met there. They are buried far further back in my past.

It’s all still the same with me 40 years later. I retain, and still cherish, most of the contents  of that great education; and I still can’t be close to people except under very special circumstances. For decades this intellectual/emotional lopsidedness caused me great sorrow.  But now, in the twilight of my life, the way I see my great deficit has greatly changed.  I don’t need the ability to bond with others very much anymore, but I feel that I need to understand the world around me now much more than ever before. And I’m trying just as hard as I can to understand as much of it as I possibly can, drawing upon  my Columbia education, all the learning I’ve built on that foundation since, and the vast world of information to be found on the wonderful new Internet.

Understanding the world is my way of embracing it prior to leaving it, I guess.

My old alma mater is one of the two factor in my life that have made that embrace possible. Thanks Columbia! I love you for having made it possible for me to relate fully to the world in the only way I ever truly could have done. I believe that if I had never known you I would  have turned out just as emotionally limited as I am now, and, more sorrowfully, no less ignorant than the poor redneck I was otherwise bound to be.

So please start back sending me those glossy alumni magazines. From now on I’m going to read every page!



Here are some pictures of the Columbia campus. It’s unchanged as far as I can see. Now at last I can feel nostalgia for it.


And how nice to find that I’m connected through my alma mater with one of my two great heroes!



19 01 2010

There may only be a fading myth born of a 500-year spree. The West found a whole new continent to exploit in 1492—a once-in-a-millennium event. The glorious promise of wealth inherent in that event has drawn people who transcendentally love money here from all over the world continuously from then ’til now.

Like a vast Darwinian juggernaut, this uniquely American situation has selected for that type of person to become our citizenry over all those many generations. It’s a wonder we have anything here at all but  businesspersons and bankers! The long, long influx of the acquisitive has expressed itself most endearingly as “the American dream.” Time is running out on that dream, what with all our national wealth going into mad wars, and China rising fast and all.

So what’s left is a nation of some very bewildered people. They were sure they were all going to get rich. Now lots of the ones near the bottom of the middle class are coming to realized they’re headed down, not up.*

At times when a society’s foundational myths are crumbling they are clutched at all the more passionately. Or, as one smart commentator said in response to today’s New York Times column by David Brooks:

Milwaukee, WI
January 19th, 2010
10:14 am

The reason for disillusionment [with President Obama and the Democrats] is because most Americans are still clinging to the delusion of their own specialness. A fake narrative endlessly peddled by the conservative dream makers to keep the pocket picking endless.

“Oh yes, stout American, you are a giant of your time. A hero. Admired. Individual. Listen to our rousing conservative homage to your ego.”

But of course it’s fiction. Fiction lapped up like sweet water in a desert, but still fiction.

Americans, haven’t reacted [to the recent and perhaps continuing Depression and the Obama’s resulting election] with a “deep, vestigial sense of proportion”. They’ve reacted with a tantrum, ticked off because the fiction is exposed and they can’t accept it. They can’t accept that the riches they were promised by the free market and housing boom was in fact a shell game. They’ve been Bushwacked.

The problem with Obama is that he’s actually trying to tie solutions to his rhetoric and, politically, Americans aren’t used to that. Don’t want it. We are not prepared and are still addicted to our delusion. Right now we resemble teenagers on a school day morning who don’t want to get up and face the test they haven’t studied for. ‘I’m sick’.

Wake up America and face the music.”


*For evidence of how and why they are headed down, see my earlier post,  “So THAT’S Why You Both Have to Work” at

Globalization and the resulting export of once-well-paid working class job is likely to make all this worse in future.

So THAT’S Why We Both Have to Work!

31 07 2009

Anyone who reads this blog will notice I’m always upset about something. I have done you readers a disservice by picking out things on the margin to fulminate about, and never getting to the heart of the matter.

That heart is the steady decline of the working middle class in the USA since 1980, and the concomitant continuous march of more and more of the country’s wealth up the class ladder to the wealthiest Americans.

I haven’t written about the heart of the matter because it was extremely difficult to pull together all the data that substantiated these changes — data that I had heard about in bits and pieces over the years.

Now, happily, I’ve found a site that poops these facts out, as drawn from census and othe data through 2005:

It’s a wonderfully clear site, with charts and graphs to clarify the straightforward discussion, so please take a look.

In case you don’t, here’s perhaps the most cogent data set in that site:

Note the steady rise of the incomes of ordinary working people from 1947 through 1979, and the leveling out since. In case you ever wondered where the Ozzie and Harriet world of the 1950s and ’60s, when one worker could support a family, has gone, this graph contains your answer.

The usual accoutrements of middle class life — many of them functional necessities, like more than one car per family — have multiplied, while the average earnings of those aspiring to that life  have stayed the same. Since all Americans tend to believe that they are at least middle class, or soon will be, this disparity has resulted in desperate efforts by many families to either earn more money (working two or more jobs per family), or, failing that,  access and spend first their savings and then any credit they can get.

And where has all the money that used to regularly increase the incomes of working people gone? I’m sure you can guess:


By the Numbers

Income | Wealth | Executive Compensation | Wages | Data Banks | Download PDF Version


The top one percent of households received 21.8 percent of all pre-tax income in 2005, more than double what that figure was in the 1970s. (The top one percent’s share of total income bottomed out at 8.9 percent in 1976.) This is the greatest concentration of income since 1928, when 23.9 percent of all income went to the richest one percent. (Piketty and Saez)

The above figures include capital gains, which are strongly affected by the ups and downs of the financial markets. Excluding capital gains, the richest one percent claimed 17.4 percent of all pre-tax income in 2005, more than double what that figure was in the 1970s. (It bottomed out at 7.8 percent in 1973.) This is the greatest concentration of income since 1936, when the richest one percent received 17.6 percent of total income. (Piketty and Saez)

Between 1979 and 2005, the top five percent of American families saw their real incomes increase 81 percent. Over the same period, the lowest-income fifth saw their real incomes decline 1 percent. (Census Bureau)

In 1979, the average income of the top 5 percent of families was 11.4 times as large as the average income of the bottom 20 percent. In 2005, the ratio was 20.9 times. (EPI, State of Working America 2006-07, Figure 1J)

All of the income gains in 2005 went to the top 10 percent of households, while the bottom 90 percent of households saw income declines. (EPI Snapshot, March 28, 2007)

Unprecedented levels of capital income are fueling inequality in the current business cycle. In the third quarter of 2006, the share of corporate income going to capital (profits and interest) hit an all-time high of 23 percent, with the remaining 77 percent going to employee compensation. Since capital income disproportionately goes to the top of the income scale, this shift towards capital income increases the income gap. (EPI Snapshot, Jan. 17, 2007)

Source: Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, “Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(1), 2003. Updated to 2005 at
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Historical Income Tables, Table F-3.
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Source: Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data in Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America 1994-95 (M.E. Sharpe: 1994) p. 37.
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Source: Congressional Budget Office, Historical Effective Federal Tax Rates: 1979 to 2004, Table 1C, December 2006.
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In 1962, the wealth of the richest one percent of U.S. households was roughly 125 times greater than that of the typical household. By 2004, it was 190 times (EPI, State of Working America 2006-07, Figure 5B).

The richest one percent of U.S. households now owns 34.3 percent of the nation’s private wealth, more than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent. The top one percent also owns 36.9 percent of all corporate stock. (EPI, State of Working America 2006-07, Table 5.1 and Figure 5F).

The total inflation-adjusted net worth of the Forbes 400 rose from $470 billion in 1995 to $1.25 Trillion in 2006. (Arthur Kennickel, Federal Reserve Board, Currents and Undercurrents: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth, 1989-2004 (pdf) and Forbes Magazine.)

The U.S. Personal Savings Rate declined from 11.2 percent in 1982 to NEGATIVE 1.1 percent in 2006. (Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts, Table 2.1)

Source: Economic Policy Institute, State of Working America 2006-07, Table 5.1, citing Wolff (2006).
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Source: Economic Policy Institute, State of Working America 2006-07, Figure 5F, citing Wolff (2006).
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Source: 1989-2004: Arthur B. Kennickell, “Currents and Undercurrents: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth, 1989-2004,” Federal Reserve Board, Jan. 30, 2006, Table 1. 2005-06:
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Source: 1922-53: Edward N. Wolff, Top Heavy (New Press: 1996). 1962-2004: Economic Policy Institute, State of Working America 2006-07, Table 5.3, citing Wolff (2006).
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Source: Economic Policy Institute, State of Working America 2006-07, Figure 5b, citing Wolff (2006).
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Source: White: Brian K. Bucks, Arthur B. Kennickell, and Kevin B. Moore, “Recent Changes in U.S. Family Finances: Evidence from the 2001 and 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances,” Federal Reserve Bulletin, vol. 92 (February 2006), Table 3. African American and Hispanic: Arthur B. Kennickell, “Currents and Undercurrents: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth, 1989-2004,” Survey of Consumer Finances Working Paper, January 30, 2006.
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Executive Compensation

American CEOs earned 411 times as much as average workers in 2005, up from 107 times in 1990. (United for a Fair Economy, Executive Excess 2006, based on Business Week and the Wall Street Journal).

Top executives in the U.S. now make about twice the pay of their counterparts in France, Germany and the U.K., and about four times that of Japanese and Korean corporate chieftains. (Lucian Bebchuk, testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, Mar 8, 2007.)

Source: Business Week and Wall Street Journal annual Executive Compensation surveys. Adjusted for inflation using CPI-U, Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers.
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Source: United for a Fair Economy, Executive Excess 2005, based on annual CEO pay studies conducted by Business Week (1990-2004) and the Wall Street Journal (2005).
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Wages v. Savings

Between 1949 and 1979, the inflation-adjusted average hourly wage for production workers rose 75 percent, from $9.00 to $15.78. Since 1979, the average production-worker wage has risen only 2 percent, from $15.78 to $16.11. (EPI, State of Working America 2006-07, Table 3.3)

Between 1979 and 2004, American workers raised their productivity 64 percent, while their median hourly compensation rose only 12 percent. (Economic Policy Institute, Datazone: PDF, XLS)

In 2006, households in the bottom 20 percent received $23 due to the Bush tax cuts. Households in the middle 20 percent received $448. Families in the top 1 percent received $39,020. And households in the top 0.1 percent received $200,523. (Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Table T06-0034)

Source: Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America 2006-07, table 3.4. For source data, see “Hourly Wage Decile Cutoffs for All Workers, 1973-2005 (2005 dollars)” on this page.
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Source: Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America 2006-07, table 3.3. For source data, see “Hourly and weekly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers, 1947-2005 (2005 dollars)” on this page.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts, Table 2.1, Personal Income and Its Disposition.
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22 05 2009

If I were good looking I’d upload a picture of myself.

If I were a more cheery fellow I would post more happy posts.

If I had the slightest interest in sports, celebrities, or business (that great American triumvirate of interest) I would court your readership by posting about one or all of them.

But I’m not any of those things.

So I’ll say a magic spell instead. I’ll invoke the fine blog aggregator

Go to this site and get gently conducted to lots of today’s blog posts, one blog  after another, proceeding at any speed you want. It’s a fascinating experience. I often put down the USA, but I love it for having the most varied people on earth. You can see that in Condron’s kaleidescope of blogs.