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Posts Tagged ‘John Steinbeck

“Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility”*…

Take a look at any given corporation’s registration docs, and there’s a good shot you’ll see the address 1209 North Orange Street.

Spanning less than a city block in Wilmington, Delaware, this nondescript office building is the official incorporation address of 285k+ companies from all over the world.

On the surface, there’s no reason that Delaware — home to blue hens and Civil War monuments — should be a corporate paradise. It’s the second smallest state in America, and the 6th least populous, with just 986k residents.

Yet, nearly 1.5m businesses from all over the world are incorporated there, including 68% of all Fortune 500 firms. Among them:

In the early 19th century, every company had to be incorporated (legally established) in the state where they conducted business — and beholden to that state’s tax codes.

Post-Industrialization, huge firms like Standard Oil and the Whiskey Trust began to consolidate fractured markets. To combat this, many states set up laws aimed at regulating monopolies through heavy taxation.

But New Jersey saw an opportunity to cater to industry.

In 1891, the Garden State adopted an extremely generous corporate tax law that “would allow business to do as business pleases.” By incorporating there, a company based in another state could save big on taxes and enjoy perks like unlimited market expansion.

A flood of conglomerates took up this offer and New Jersey earned so much from taxes that it was able to pay off its entire state debt.

Pressured to incentivize businesses to stay, other states offered their own lenient corporate tax policies.

In this so-called “race to the bottom,” Delaware emerged victorious.

Adopted in 1899, the Delaware General Corporation Law “reduced restrictions upon corporate action to a minimum” and promised to maintain the most hospitable business enclave in the nation — a place where corporations could frolic in the open fields of capitalism, unencumbered by income tax, bureaucratic policing, and shareholder litigation.

In the ensuing decades, many other states (including New Jersey) reneged a bit on their corporate leniency.

But Delaware didn’t peel back.

Today, the state is still the incorporation zone of choice for corporations. The climate is so favorable that even international firms seek respite there.

What exactly makes Delaware so enticing?

Nearly 1.5m companies are incorporated in one of America’s smallest states; find out why at: “Why Delaware is the sexiest place in America to incorporate a company.”

* Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

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As we peek behind the veil, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was published.   The story of the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, agricultural industry changes, and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work.  Fleeing the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out, with thousands of other “Okies,” for California, seeking jobs, land, dignity, and a future.

The date was timely: four years earlier– on “Black Sunday,” this date in 1935– one of the most devastating storms of the 1930s Dust Bowl era kicked up clouds of millions of tons of dirt and dust so dense and dark that some eyewitnesses believed the world was coming to an end. 

The term “dust bowl” was reportedly coined by a reporter in the mid-1930s and referred to the plains of western Kansas, southeastern Colorado, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and northeastern New Mexico. By the early 1930s, the grassy plains of this region had been over-plowed by farmers and overgrazed by cattle and sheep. The resulting soil erosion, combined with an eight-year drought which began in 1931, created a dire situation for farmers and ranchers. Crops and businesses failed and an increasing number of dust storms made people and animals sick. Many residents fled the region in search of work in other states such as California (as chronicled in books including John Steinbeck s The Grapes of Wrath), and those who remained behind struggled to support themselves…

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“What’s in a name?”*…

 

swamp

The occurrence of place names that contain the word “Swamp”

 

The concentrations of water toponyms in the United States: see similar visualizations of place names that contain “River,” Spring, “Lake,” and “Pond” at “Lake, River, Spring, Pond, Bay and Swamp.”

* Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

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As we call ’em as we see ’em, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was published.   The story of the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, agricultural industry changes, and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work.  Fleeing the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out, with thousands of other “Okies,” for California, seeking jobs, land, dignity, and a future.

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Written by LW

April 14, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Cleanliness is next to godliness”*…

 

One woman feeds bills into the washing machine as another collects the clean bills

Long before the term “money laundering” entered the popular lexicon, the U.S. Treasury Department had an actual laundry shop for grimy greenbacks. The mostly female “redemptive division” worked out of the basement and cleaned up to 80,000 soiled bills a day using mechanical scrubbers…

Come clean at: “Treasury Department Laundry.”

And for an insightful look at the dirty business that money laundering has become, see “The Russian Laundromat Exposed.”

* A colloquial expression (used by Francis Bacon, e.g., but popularized by John Wesley), rooted in an interpretation of Acts 9:32-10:23

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As we love the lave, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that The Viking Press published John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.  The story of the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by economic hardship– drought, agricultural industry changes, and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work– it won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

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Written by LW

April 14, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Everything is relative except relatives, and they are absolute”*…

 

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Thanksgiving is upon us, so many American readers will be gathering as clans.  Thankfully, our friends at Flowing Data have come up with a handy graphic reference to help us place and navigate those confusing familial ties.  As they note (quoting Wikipedia), there is an underlying mathematical logic to it all…

There is a mathematical way to identify the degree of cousinship shared by two individuals. In the description of each individual’s relationship to the most recent common ancestor, each “great” or “grand” has a numerical value of 1. The following examples demonstrate how this is applied.

Example: If person one’s great-great-great-grandfather is person two’s grandfather, then person one’s “number” is 4 (great + great + great + grand = 4) and person two’s “number” is 1 (grand = 1). The smaller of the two numbers is the degree of cousinship. The two people in this example are first cousins. The difference between the two people’s “numbers” is the degree of removal. In this case, the two people are thrice (4 — 1 = 3) removed, making them first cousins three times removed.

More at “Chart of Cousins.”

* Alfred Stieglitz

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As we pass the gravy, we might recall that it was on this date in 1912 that successful businessman Sherwood Anderson, then 36, left wife, family, and job in Elyria, Ohio, to become a writer.  A novelist and short story writer, he’s best-known for the short story sequence Winesburg, Ohio, which launched his career, and for the novel Dark Laughter, his only bestseller.  But his biggest impact was probably his formative influence on the next generation of American writers– William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Thomas Wolfe, among others– who cited Anderson as an important inspiration and model.  (Indeed, Anderson was instrumental in gaining publication for Faulkner and Hemingway.)

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Victorian visualization…

Tableau De L’Histoire Universelle depuis la Creation jusqu’a ce jour

…a fold-out print depicting all of human history from the time of creation (4693 BC = Adam & Eve; the great flood = 3300 BC) up to the date of publication (1858 by Eug. Pick, Paris). Vignettes of historically significant people, places and buildings etc are arranged along the borders.

Earlier posts (e.g., here and here) will have tipped readers to your correspondent’s weakness for charts and visualizations.  A wonderful collection at Bibliodyssey reminds one that interesting infographics have a long and storied history… and that earlier examples can be a mesmerizingly beautiful as their successors…

Tinted drawing showing the comparative lengths of rivers and heights of mountains worldwide. The first text page in this volume has the legend for this sheet.

In: ‘General Atlas Of The World: Containing Upwards Of Seventy Maps…’ by Adam & Charles Black, Sidney Hall and William Hughes, 1854; published in Edinburgh by A & C Black.

See them all at Bibliodyssey’s “Victorian Infographics.”

And for readers who are also listeners to This American Life, may enjoy This American Infographic— a project of E. J. Fox to create a visualization for every episode of that extraordinary series; e.g., Episode 5:

As we chart our progress, we might pause to celebrate a different kind of visualization coup: it was on this date in 1944 that Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat— based on a story by John Steinbeck– premiered at the Astor Theater in New York.  Starring the divine Tallulah Bankhead (along with William Bendix and Walter Slezak), Lifeboat was remarkable for confining all action to the space of the small boat awash in the ocean…

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and for including the director’s trademark cameo in a newspaper ad for weight loss that one of the characters reads.

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