Burt Kwouk RIP

Burt KwoukI just found out that Burt Kwouk died yesterday. He was the kind of actor that you saw everywhere, but he will always be remembered for the part of Cato Fong, Inspector Jacques Clouseau servant who attacked him all the time in The Pink Panther film series. This was supposed to be part of Clouseau’s continued training. But it is quite absurd. In The Pink Panther Strikes Again, the two of them totally destroy Clouseau’s apartment. (Not that it matters, given that it is blown up shortly afterward.)

The following scene is entirely typical. Cato surprises Clouseau, they fight, and after the fight is over, Clouseau attacks Cato in the most unsportsmanlike way imaginable. It’s very silly stuff. But I love it. And when I was a kid, Cato was the only character I really felt a kinship to.

But Burt Kwouk was much more Cato Fong. The IMDb has him listed in 144 films and television shows. And this gives him but one credit for the 78 episodes of Last of the Summer Wine that he appeared in. No cause of death has been announced. He was 85.

I think I will call it a night and watch one of the Pink Panther movies. I only recently got The Pink Panther Collection with the first five films.

Why Is Danish Actor Mille Dinesen So Worried About Taxes in the US?

Mille Dinesen - Denmark TaxesSchool teacher Mille Dinesen is really upset about taxes in the United States!

I found out all about it when I was talking to William today. He mentioned that one of his clients (who appears to be a little unstable) saw his “Feel the Bern” bumper sticker and emailed him something about how horrible things are in Denmark. You see, both Sanders and Clinton have said nice things about Denmark. And we aren’t supposed to do that, because everyone knows that Fascist Italy was so much better. I did a quick Google search and found out that the text was taken from what was a viral meme that was supposedly written by a school teacher in Denmark, apparently Mille Dinesen, even though it was signed in some versions, “Mikkel Clair Nissen.” But you can see Mille Dinesen there on the left, and she’s the one displayed in the meme. See the chalkboard behind her?!

The meme has been thoroughly rebutted. PolitiFact, for example, went after the claim that the suicide rate in Denmark was two to three times higher than in the US. It turns out that the suicide rate in Denmark was higher in Denmark in 1960 through 1990. But it has steadily decreased. And the US suicide rate has gone up steadily (though not as drastically). So now the suicide rate in the US is substantially higher than it is in the Denmark. Oh well.

But mostly the thing is about how terrible the taxes are. This is a typical conservative thing. What if the government taxed you at 90% and then gave the money back to you? That is, in fact, largely what the government does. Conservatives have this idea that the government takes money and just wastes it. But if that money is used to make people better off, then the rate of taxes is not a big deal. One problem we have here in the US is that we tax a great deal so that we can spend roughly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined.

Last year, Matt Bruenig wrote a very interesting article, When Is It Better Not to Be in America? It looks at the Luxembourg Income Survey data to determine how much disposable income people have at different places in the income distribution. And it turns out that people in the bottom one-third of the income scale do better in Denmark than they do in the US. And it is the opposite for the people at the top. As Bruenig noted, “We treat our rich well. Nobody can deny that.”

He goes on to note that the harm of taking money away from the wealthy is more than offset by the good that is done by giving the poor money. Not that this is the final word on the subject or anything. But the fact that cars are taxed at 180% in Denmark is totally irrelevant. The point of the meme isn’t to make people think about Denmark — it is to make people not think about America.

Mikkel Clair Nissen or Mille Dinesen — Whatever!

But there’s a funny thing about that school teacher. That isn’t a school teacher. It is Danish actor Mille Dinesen in the title role of the Danish television show Rita about a “headstrong and unconventional teacher and single mother.” (These are the kind of jobs that TinEye reverse image searches are great for!) I’m sure the writer (who appears to be just another libertarian loon) did a Google image search on “Danish teacher” and grabbed it. He is from Denmark. But he might have bigger problems than pretending to be a school teacher on television. This is from his Facebook page:

Hi folks, as I have mentioned earlier, I left the US a month ago to find out what was going on with my children. Unfortunately all in avail. I don’t feel safe in Denmark, I therefore left for Spain after only a week in Denmark and now reside in Spain where I am working in a night club. Well, this is just an update, as well as a thanks to all of you who have supported me through hard times.

Sounds a bit like Alex Jones, “I don’t feel safe in Denmark”! But I wonder why it is that people on the political right find it necessary to cherry pick data and generally distort reality in order to make their case. Oh, I’m kidding! They do it because their ideas are bad. But I’ll admit: if I have to wade through rubbish, I’d rather look at Mille Dinesen than Mikkel Clair Nissen.