Are you a grown-up American? Do you vote? Then plz take three minutes to get yr head around “marginal tax brackets”🇺🇸🌟

WaPo-wrong-on-tax-brackets2About half of all Americans fundamentally misunderstand how U.S. “tax brackets” work.  (Ironically, those in the traditionally “fiscally conservative” party are significantly more likely to fundamental misunderstand our tax system.)  As a result, many, many, many Americans argue and vote against both public interest and their own interest, with the sole beneficiaries being the extremely rich (both human and corporate).

Now’s the time to get your head straight.  The Twitter thread embedded below lays it out nicely, as does this article from the Washington Post (which takes just three minutes to read, and even explains why we use this somewhat counter-intuitive and often confusing tax bracket scheme).

This is your Civics homework for today.  It’s pretty easy.  I’m sure you’ll get a gold star!🌟

Wanna keep your New Year’s Resolutions? Quick trick: DO less, EAT more (trust me; this is legit)

I’m not natively a “New Years resolution person”—but as a freelancer, I live and die by forming and keeping good habits. Over the years of not starving to death or losing our home, I’ve learned a few shortcuts to faking a disciplined life. Principal among these:

Do LESS to Earn MORE, Eat MORE to Weigh LESS——a quick-n-easy “happiness hack” 

This principal principle is super-duper useful for addressing the two most popular New Year’s resolutions:

  1. do/earn more (e.g., start this side hustle, take up that hobby, hit the gym, etc.)
  2. lose weight

#1 Do LESS to do MORE: The “Stop Doing” List

For Resolution Type #1 (which require doing more with the same number of free hours that already feel over-packed), the usual approach is to try to cram in one more thing.

That is obviously destined for failure. You aren’t going to suddenly have more free hours or more energy just because you added one more item to your calendar.

Instead sit down for 10 minutes, uninterrupted, in complete silence.  This is vital, and insanely hard.  For real, lock yourself in the bathroom or sit in your car in the grocery store parking lot or go to the laundry room—whatever it takes to get a solid 10 minutes without distraction.

Take a hard look at what you do on the daily—especially what you do with your phone in your hand—and ask yourself if you really love doing that stuff, or if it is vital to you earning a living.

Now write a quick “Stop Doing” List.  This is a bulleted list of things that just really aren’t worth your time or attention.  Just an example, if I glance at YouTube, I end up loosing an easy 20 minutes watching video compilations of old Vines or “Wins/Fails.”  I don’t even really like those videos; I’m just stressed out, so I glance at YouTube, and YouTube knows what I watch, and there’s a whole endless scrolling list of distractions and . . . and I don’t enjoy it, it’s no good for my family or my business or my bank account.  There’s no point to it. It is time squandered.

So, Funny Fails are on my “Stop Doing” List.  So are:

  • Reading news items about celebrities who cannot call in air strikes
  • Looking at Google News and just reading headline after headline after headline without clicking
  • Facebook in general
  • Looking at my Roth IRA more than quarterly
  • Finishing a book/movie that I’m not eager to finish
  • Looking at email on Saturday (I’m a freelance writer, not a doctor or cancer researcher—no one lives or dies because I made them wait until business hours)
  • Fundraising at my kids’ schools (I know that’s controversial, but I’ve get mental health issues that make those sorts of social things literally insanely stressful for me; I earn enough to happily donate double what the PTO suggests if it means skipping shilling gift wrap or popcorn or whatever)

If your resolution is to work in a 20 minute walk every day, trust me, you can find those 20 minutes easily just by cutting out two or three phone-based distractions alone.

 

#2 Eat MORE to weigh LESS: Apples

When it comes to things we like but are bad for us (cheap pizza, salty snacks, pricey coffees, etc.), the usual advice is to cut back.  We resent this for a variety of deeply ingrained psychological reasons (from loss aversion to just plain perversity).

So don’t cut back; load up on Good Stuff instead.

Need to lose weight?  Don’t say “I have to cut out cookies” or “I have to cut calories.” 

Instead, say “I have to eat a ton of fruit.” 

Any damned fruit you like—sweet n’ juicy berries, melons, bananas, grapes, carrots (veg is fine, too).

But, two important things:

  1.  Not fruit juice! Those juices are as sugary as soda pop.  You need the fiber of the fruit for this to work (plus, whole fresh fruit is cheaper).
  2.  No human EVER got fat gobbling apples, and no pre-diabetic EVER insulin crashed on baby carrots. Every time I mention this strategy, someone warns me about how much sugar is in fruit—which is true—but it doesn’t hit your bloodstream (and pancreas and belly) like refined sugar.  Your body has to work to process it.  If you eat real whole fruit and veg you can gorge yourself and be fine.

Buy your chosen fruit or veg by the sackful.  Take some with you every time you leave the house.  Pack it with every lunch.  Every time you’re hungry, start with whatever your chosen fruit/veg is.  Have it first thing in the morning, have it last thing for desert.

Sick of your chosen fruit/veg?  That’s fine; just means it wasn’t the right one.  Pick a different one.  Keep trying.  There is a fruit or veg out there that you will never, ever get sick of having fresh and whole.  That is your special fruit; cherish it.

I am a middle-aged White(ish) American man with a sedentary job.  I don’t go to the gym (I do walk a lot, because I like walking and I have a dog).  I drink alcohol daily.  I drink a ton of coffee.  I used to smoke.

My body should be a damned wreck.  But I pack away five apples per day, minimum, and am subsequently in good health.  ’cause you know what? If you have three apples before lunch, you don’t feel like stuffing your face. And if you’re full of apples and then a bowl of chili (or whatever), you don’t feel bloated and logy.  You feel like going for a damn walk.

And you lose weight.

This is one of those bone-simple virtuous circles.  Just ride it ’round and ’round and ’round: Do LESS, earn MORE; Eat MORE, weigh LESS.

 

Xappy Xanukah! ♪♫♪♬

I’m a Jew—born and raised—but I come from a “mixed” family (they say “interfaith” now).  My dad is a Jew, but my mom was raised Christian.  Both my maternal grandparents—with whom I spent a lot of time growing up—were practicing Christians. Far from shockingly, my own marriage is mixed (my wife was raised Catholic, our kids are Jews who end up participating in a lot of Xtian traditions).  Interfaith families are really common now, but were much less so when I was young.

As you’re likely aware, back when I was a kid there weren’t a lot of Xanukah songs for us Jewish kids. There weren’t many songs for Jewish kids, but there were some; there were absolutely zero songs for mixed half-a-Jews with an Xmas tree and a Xanukiah and a cat that managed to catch fire in the Xanukah candles every year and Xtian grandparents who came to town on Xmas Eve specifically to partake in the Jewish tradition of Xmas Chinese food.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re sort of a nation that always wants everyone to be one thing or another thing—black or white, nerd or jock, Jew or Gentile, girl or boy—and doesn’t have much patience for things that are mixed and ambiguous and a lil-o’-both.  I was in my 20s, and in a Women’s Studies class, before I learned what the hell “intersectionality” was, and my identity began to make any sense to me.

This year—for the third year running—my local Jewish Community Center is collecting donations of Christmas presents, to be given to the Syrian refugees relocated here.

On the one hand, that sounds almost too perfectly absurd: Jews giving Muslims Christmas presents.  On the other, it feels like basically the most perfect possible introduction to America.🕎🎄☪🇺🇸

Anyway, there weren’t many mixed kids like me when I was growing up—and there weren’t any songs or holiday specials or children’s books that reflected what I saw and felt and loved about wintertime.

So these are my songs, for all the little intersectional mixed kids out there, who don’t have any holiday songs to sing.

Enjoy!

Happy Treat Yourself Wednesday!💸

Not for nothing, but I’m not a huge fan of Black Friday/Small-biz Saturday/Cyber Monday/Giving Tuesday/etc.  Yeah, there’s power in focusing our economic force on these specific days (obviously)—but also, there’s power in you just spending money on what you want when you want it.

Anyway, I love the denim from these cats in California, Brave Star.  The cuts work for my particular body, the construction is quality, and the materials a delight (more of my thoughts on Brave Star—who, incidentally, are still using some of the final bolts of historic Cone Mills denim I mention in the post at that link).

If you wanna give them a whirl, you can save $10 on dope-ass, sanely priced, all-American-made denim with that link. (DISCLOSURE: If you use that link and coupon code you save $10 and I get a $10 credit.  FURTHER DISCLOSURE: These are basically the only pants I wear anymore. I’m wearing a pair of indigo x brown Cone Mills selvedge Slim Straights right now, although my favorite are the various blacks. They are all good jeans.)

REBEL NELL X NELSON FOUNDATION #GIVINGTUESDAY

Rebel Nell works with local organizations to hire women transitioning from homelessness and teaches them to craft unique, wearable accessories made from the fallen layers of graffiti that grace the buildings and underpasses of Detroit.

DISCLOSURE: I’m from the Detroit Metro Area. My dad was born and raised in Detroit. We love that stupid city, my family has planted their hearts there, and I’ve bought Rebel Nell jewelry for my wife. It’s neat stuff!

But Rebel Nell isn’t just mining the lead-flecked ruins of Detroit to sell bougie baubles.  Through their non-profit arm—Teaching. Empowering. Achieving. (T.E.A.)—Rebel Nell provides all the wrap-around services to empower vulnerable women and families as they transition to a life of independence.  T.E.A. invests in training, education, skills development, coaching, and mentorship services (including basic employment opportunities), in addition to other support and assistance to these women. 

This ain’t giving away fish; it’s teaching folks how to fish, and making sure they’ve got a decent rod and reel to get them started.

This is Azzie. She’s Rebel Nell's production manager and an alum of their programs.
This is Azzie. She’s Rebel Nell’s production manager and an alum of their programs.

The Nelson Foundation provides financial support to individuals and organizations that use art to create opportunities that better our community.  (Note conspicuous name similarity—this is something my folks and older sister make happen.)  These usually take the form of direct grants and tuition support to underrepresented students in the arts in Michigan.

This Tuesday—November 27, 2018—The Nelson Foundation will be giving up to $5,000 to Rebel Nell/T.E.A. in matching funds. 

You give $1, and the Nelson Foundation matches that.  Everyone together gives $5,000 and the Nelson Foundation doubles that—boom!, $10,000 goes directly to supporting women and families getting free and building up their communities.

Click to give! Pay it forward. Spread the word. 

Thanks!

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