First, I am not against this. But, coming in a close second, I don't think the reasoning underlying this policy is defensible. To wit:
- Can we prohibit teens from driving after dark if studies show that crashes then are more likely?
- Can we prohibit women from talking on their cell-phones if, as studies show, they are more prone to cause accidents among drivers 25+?
- Must drivers have another adult in the car when driving with a small child to deal with distractions?
- What about non-electronic distractions? Cell-phone are audial. How about a law making it illegal to apply mascara or change shirts while driving?
- And to finally take it too far: what about prohibiting teens from driving with friends? I had a raucous good time communicating hands-free with them as we rode through the canyons back home. Isn't that just as distracting?
Some of these questions are meant to be serious. I think prohibiting this activity for teens alone demonstrates a type of ageism. Either it is dangerous enough that no drivers can do it, or it isn't.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL): Stated Emanuel: “Alberto Gonzales is the first Attorney General who thought the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth were three different things.”The man is not loved by many, but credit is due for this nugget.
I broke in, turned whole rooms upside down, and filled the library to the cieling with chairs. RSC dropped thousands of ping pong balls on the school yard at lunch from a helicopter. Flippish's crew is rumored to have fed bessie some laxatives and walked her up to the fourth floor of the school building.
These kids? They took to the streets, and took to the streets, and too...well you get the idea.
Hint 1: There is a tunnel under the buildings.
Hint 2: There were 94 of them.
Hint 3: There is a chicken and a cow.
I go into a certain yuppie java establishment with more frequency than I care to admit. I style myself a philanthropist, providing healthcare benefits to the middle upper lower middle class of folks with either perennial student loans or unforgiving job prospects.
My frustration is simple, and happened again this morning.
I begin my order... "Venti Coffee Frap.."
The echoes come back, "Venti Coffee."
It rings up at $2.10.
"A Frappucino." I am repeating myself.
I think I am giving this guttural response too much credit by so quoting it. "What kind of Frappucino?"
I lean over the counter and smash her face into the touch display. The contours of her face have lit up half the board totalling $78.95. The blood pouring from her nose makes it hard to tell what I bought, and harder still to void out the transaction. Good thing for her that gallon tin of frothing milk lies just out of reach over the corporate teddy bears to cure hunger in Dubai, or whatever is now in vogue.
"Coffee," I respond.
"Venti Coffee Frappucino!" Another echo, and this time a look from the Barista. I get the sense I have a blood brother in this fight -- one who can reach the frothing milk. She has repeated herself. He's repeating her. We are a chorus of morons.
We act out this farce pretty much every time I order. Who is the idiot?
[ I suppose I have to disqualify any responses to the effect that I am idiot for paying $4 for coffee. Take it at face value. ]
[ warning - strong language ] [ EDIT - Thanks to HRH JSR for passing this on.]
FRIDAY COLLEGE GRUDGEBLOGGING:
Since Jason takes every opportunity to bash the rival of his favorite school, I don't see why I can't do the same. Radar Magazine has a feature on America's Worst Colleges. Unsurprisingly, the first entry on the list, in the category of Worst of the Big Ten, is Michigan State University. Helpful facts included:
Much of its student body seems to be in jail. More than 1,000 students were arrested for drug and alcohol offenses in 2005
School Pride: "If I hear 'show your tits' one more time I'm going to scream--I got 'em and I ain't showin 'em to you bozos," complains a recent graduate on Students Review.
Perhaps the best part was this outraged--and, warning, highly profane--objection by a reader:
Let me just say to whatever cocksucking pansy wrote this review that he has no fucking idea what he is talking about. Drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence, in a beautiful campus setting, makes for pretty damn good education in my book. I am sorry that we aren't some liberal art school where the biggest problems facing male students is how to come out to our roommate and convince him to let us go down on him. Or maybe some west coast, hippie, save the fucking whales, follow phish, do-gooders that want to complain about this country all day instead of doing something about it. Let me tell you something; Every Spartan I know is better suited for the real world because they had a social life AND finished their degree. So when it comes time to have a drink with the boss and maybe score points, a Spartan might be able to talk about more than the oppression of little tribal island that nobody gives a fuck about. Furthermore the arrest statistics should take into effect the size of MSU (45,000 students), but that doesn't matter. Know why? SPARTANS LIKE TO GET ARRESTED!!!! It is a rite of passage! The 3rd best Halloween party at MSU every year is in the East Lansing Jail. As for drugs? This is fucking college! I did enough drugs to kill an entire tribal island during college. Screw you! Bitches like fucking on ecstasy, and we help them do that. And I don't care what you say..... Nothing is sexier than a coked up, drunk sorority slut. So who is the best? Michigan? Michigan girls drive to State to get fucked in the ass on a daily basis. Oh and by the way.... I have been to jail, for a while. So when I find who you I am going to fuck you in the ass. I hope you are a guy. Stay the fuck out of East Lansing.
Of course, it's not entirely clear if this comment is a parody, but unless things have changed a lot since I left the state of Michigan, I'm guessing it's legit.
posted 2:40 p.m.
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Sometimes, these things go smoothly.
There is, of course, one obvious question that must be on every reader’s mind at this juncture: what about "schmuck"? Regrettably, we were stymied in our schmuck search by the fact that many people are actually named Schmuck. This is an unfortunate circumstance for researchers, and even worse for the poor Schmucks themselves.
The same happens to be true of "putz" and of "mensch." We’d much rather be named "mensch" than "schmuck," but, oddly enough, a search for NAME (SCHMUCK) found 87 cases and NAME (MENSCH) found only 63 cases. Perhaps this is because there are more schmucks than mensches in the world; but wouldn’t the real schmucks change their names so as to better fool people, and real mensches change theirs out of modesty? Besides, the true schmuck-mensch ratio is much higher than 87 to 63.
. . . [to the end]
We return then to the beginning, to chutzpah. The most famous definition of "chutzpah" is, of course, itself law-themed: chutzpah is when a man kills both his parents and begs the court for mercy because he’s an orphan.
But there’s another legal chutzpah story. A man goes to a lawyer and asks: "How much do you charge for legal advice?"
"A thousand dollars for three questions."
"Wow! Isn’t that kind of expensive?"
"Yes, it is. What’s your third question?"
He got the case the day before and sought more time from the judge. The judge gave him 2.5 hours, and then cited him for contempt when he was not able to present a defense following the allotted time. I don't know the facts of the case, but there are more than a few misdemeanors that require more than 2.5 hours to prepare.
Consider this: public defenders often handle 10-15 cases at a time or more (a friend of mine in Family Court in NYC handled over 100 at a time). That means those 2.5 hours may have been cut up by, among other things, another hearing.
So now counsel will need counsel for his contempt hearing scheduled for Friday. I know he can't afford a lawyer on his salary. Perhaps he should call a public defender today, so that person has adequate time to prepare.
Is it better for society that such objects move up to the wealthiest because only they can afford their upkeep? Or is it sad that a normal person who happens to be in the right place at the right time can't benefit from keeping such an important piece of memorbilia?
This still does not solve the tax question. Do you have a basis in the ball for tax purposes? As DB suggested, this could be the price of your ticket. Or do you count your tax basis as zero -- to be fair, the difference is minimal.
Oh, and he's giving some of the estimated $500K proceeds to friends. Good man.
It's disappointing that this is barely news. Just recently, we lost a shuttle to just this type of defect. It happened again, and NASA got to step and show that it in fact had improved not just its technology, but its very attitude, in a crisis. The result....business as usual and no headlines. Seems ungrateful.
STS-118 - Welcome home.
You might hear that refrain 16-20 times in a single hour of SportsCenter. This morning, 4 of the 12 topics for the hour (not including the Top 10) revolved around Vick. And every time a reporter brought it up, the topic was "dogfighting charges," now followed by the question, "Will the League ever let Vick back in?"
First, the plea as announced was that Michael Vick would plead guilty to federal conspiracy charges related to dog fighting. If that means anything, it means the feds couldn't get charges of the actual, heinous acts that have been repeatedly paraded across our screens for the past two weeks to stick. Don't be surprised if this entire media train jumps the tracks and starts heading from Convictville back to Accommodatenland in a hurry on Monday if the statement of facts reveals that Vick knew and facilitated some of this activity (i.e. the fights took place on his property), but was otherwise uninvolved in the mechanics.
Second, why is ESPN so set on getting Vick kicked out of the NFL? The stories so far have not focused on when and if he could come back. To the contrary, the question asked repeatedly is whether the commish will toss the book at Vick in perpetuity, or whether (as I imagine would be more likely) he will hand down an indefinite suspension to be reviewed when Vick next becomes "available." Nobody on that staff is reporting, as did the Baltimore Sun, that Vick is not the first player to be convicted of a serious crime and come back to play in the league.
The most recent player to return to the league after serving time in prison is former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis, who served a four-month sentence before the team's 2004 training camp for using a cell phone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.
Leonard Little, a defensive end with the St. Louis Rams, served 90 days in jail and an eight-game league suspension after killing a woman in a 1998 auto accident while driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.19
Even ESPN's legal analyst isn't bringing this up. The analysis has focused on why Vick waited this long and what effect that will have on the bargain offered and the eventual sentence. He should, at the very least, point out that the charges that will be read out Monday may not be as black and white as people think. This is ESPN. Strangely enough, it may be the only media outlet left where an audience is looking to absorb this level of nuanced analysis.
Let me hazard this guess then: ESPN has storyboarded this. They sat down 2 weeks ago and said, "There are 2 options. He either pleads or he fights. If he fights, we just cover that. The intrigue will come on its own. If he pleads, we first discuss how serious the dogfighting charges are. Then, when the sentence is announced, we spend 2 days on the ins and outs of what the actual facts mean. Then, when people finally tire of that, we'll turn to Vick's future. We'll run highlights of his greatest plays and roll audio of Vick supporters in the background, talking about how they hope that he can pay his debt to society, learn from his mistakes, and come back on the field a changed man." Check back next Thursday to see if I am right.
These troll around DC behind the president. I don't think anyone wants to harm the man right now. He's so unpopular, I doubt even the baddies want to get close enough to be seen with him.
And todays "News in photos", including "Workers celebrate nation's 10 millionth "Bring yourself to work" day."
I am not posting this to stick it to the administration. His analysis was correct then. What I really want to know is what changed? Did September 11, 2001 change the consequences he foresaw in our going to Iraq? You listen to this and hear a smart, candid assessment. Why isn't that the assessment we bring to bear now?
Look, hate him or hate him, the man has proven his ability to motivate millions of Americans, thousands of politicians, and the man with his hand on the button. He is undeniably good at what he does. So, from moderates everywhere, I say, "Mr. Rove. You are right. Your family needs you. It is time to set out for greener pastures, far from the hustle and bustle of cell towers, the internet, or CSPAN. I hear Tibet is nice this time of year."
Commentors: What is the over/under on Rove heading/starting a quiet but powerful think tank with a very vague mission statement? Or will he go the full monty and just open a lobbying shop?
The ball is estimated at $500K. Let's assume you keep it for 1 year, then sell it for $600K.
1. Do you pay taxes on it as income this year?
It is an "accession to wealth," not unlike winning the lottery, which is taxed (for simplicity's sake) as income no different from your paycheck. The problem with this idea is that the taxes alone would wipe out the entire salary of a person making up to $150K/yr.
This is not a new problem. Contest winners pay taxes on the prize as income for that year and have many times been forced to sell new cars and the like because they could not afford to pay the taxes. There are companies that do nothing but purchase such items from "lucky" distressed sellers.
Incidentally, though it seems a little unfair, I think that sweepstakes/contest winnings are the closest factual analogy to this case; the IRS would likely follow that guidance.
The second option is to treat this like an heirloom you get from a dead relative. You get the object, but you don't really have access to its value until you sell it. Thus, the "accession" does not happen until later on. Recognizing this, the IRS has chosen not to tax you on the object's value you when you get it, but rather to tax you on the profit once it is sold.
This analogy breaks down because, unlike an heirloom, which your relative paid for, you didn't pay for the ball 755. The price your relative paid is "basis." The price you get in excess of the basis is the "profit," which is taxable. The inability to ascertain the "basis" of ball 755 makes it extremely unlikely that the IRS would calculate taxes in this manner.
2. What tax do you pay when you sell the ball?
The first part is easy. If you paid tax on the ball as income last year, you pay tax only on the profit from the sale (on $100K). This is also true if the ball is considered like an heirloom. You.
The more interesting question is whether the profit is regular income (25% federal tax min.) or "capital gains" (15% tax bracket) like the sale of a house. I think most memorabilia, because they are physical assets, should get capital gains treatment. The only exception is where you are in the business of trading these things regularly -- then it is std. income.
This second answer helps one understand why it makes more sense to consider the ball as income in 2007, and then tax the sale of the ball separately in 2008. If you taxed it as income last year which determines the basis of the ball, you pay 1 kind of tax last year (income), and a second type of tax this year (cap gains).
If you pay all the taxes in 2008, you end up trying to figure out how to pay 2 different types of taxes on the same object arising out of one sale. Because you didn't value you the ball for tax purposes in 2007, you have no idea what it gained in 2008. So telling apart the basis (income) from the gain (cap gains) becomes damn near impossible.
(this would make 2 WSJ law blog posts in 2 days. Either I am getting dorkier, or the slow news cycle has sparked some creativity over there).
Payne & Fears.
Low,Ball & Lynch.
Slaughter & Slaughter
Practice for Nov. '08 and begin the rapid, multiple electronic voting!
See him: http://www.comedycentral.com/openmicfight/index.jhtml
Vote for him: http://www.comedycentral.com/openmicfight/index.jhtml
First Teacher Soars Into Space
My only reaction was, "Why? Because Christa McAuliffe [Edit: not Sally Ride - thanks MM] didn't technically make it into space? Dude. That's sick!"
Apparently, USA Today thought so too. They revised the headline for their "print edition" online, claiming it said:
Bittersweet triumph for 1st teacher in space
Did I mention I have no respect for that paper? Stop reloading the 4 color ink dispensers and start staffing the copy desk.
7 MOSES LED THE JEWS TO THE RED SEA ! WHERE THEY MADE UNLEAVENED BREAD
WHICH IS BREAD WITHOUT ANY INGREDIENTS.
10. THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT IS THOU SHALT NOT ADMIT ADULTERY.
15. WHEN MARY HEARD SHE WAS THE MOTHER OF JESUS, SHE SANG THE MAGNA
17. JESUS WAS BORN BECAUSE MARY HAD AN IMMACULATE CONTRAPTION.
Who do you believe? Ben Stein argues that the current fears of subprime meltdown are being blown completely out of proportion by hedge funds and other short-term arbitrageurs who benefit from the pricing inefficiencies present in volatile markets.
On the other hand American Home Finance just filed for bankruptcy and is set up for rescue by this man, Wilbur Ross. That would certainly point to real subprime melt-down.
Me? I think I am somewhere in the middle. Even if Mr. Stein is correct, and the total market disruption is just 1%, the housing slowdown is real, 1% is a big chunk, and, more importantly, it is the last of a long line of indicators that the economy is rocky. First there were the consumer price index numbers last year. Those went back up when the housing market proved to be better than it was thought to be. Then there were the disappointing job growth numbers (around 140K instead of the regular 200+K), again bouyed by better-than-expected (not be confused with "good") housing and consumer price numbers. Now, the last saving grace of the economy for the average American - his home - is on the blocks. Yeah, I think that these hedge funds are encouraging the volatility, but I also think that we have:
- Artificial unemployment numbers. More people are taking two + jobs. The unemployment % is the number of jobs vs. the number of Americans, not the number of working Americans vs. the total population.
- Lower real salaries. Household income is rising because of the additional income source, but that means that people can't make do on a single 40/wk job. Ergo, real earnings are down.
- A housing slump. The numbers in big cities with high prices are actually stable. The prices that were inflated have already deflated and are holding steady. It's the suburbs, exurbs, and developments that are taking the hit and, given the numbers of homes in production, they will continue to suffer for another few years.
- Higher energy costs. I don't think fuel is THAT much more expensive, but $3 is $3.
- Trade Deficit. This last item is both a boon and a bane. It is bad for America to spend more than it earns abroad. That said, the trade deficit has and will continue to weaken the dollar, making our exports more valuable. Take those vacations now folks.
I promise future posts will go back to cool nic-nacs.
Retailing upwards of $30M, this boat is an architectural masterwork as well. Check out all the eye-popping goodness here.
See that itty, bitty white thing on the rear deck? That's a multi-millionaire.
and for the "holy crap" photo of the day:
Hymn of Breaking Strain
- Rudyard Kipling
THE careful text-books measure
(Let all who build beware!)
The load, the shock, the pressure
Material can bear.
So, when the buckled girder
Lets down the grinding span,
'The blame of loss, or murder,
Is laid upon the man.
Not on the Stuff - the Man!
But in our daily dealing
With stone and steel, we find
The Gods have no such feeling
Of justice toward mankind.
To no set gauge they make us-
For no laid course prepare-
And presently o'ertake us
With loads we cannot bear:
Too merciless to bear.
The prudent text-books give it
In tables at the end
'The stress that shears a rivet
Or makes a tie-bar bend-
'What traffic wrecks macadam-
What concrete should endure-
but we, poor Sons of Adam
Have no such literature,
To warn us or make sure!
We hold all Earth to plunder -
All Time and Space as well-
Too wonder-stale to wonder
At each new miracle;
Till, in the mid-illusion
Of Godhead 'neath our hand,
Falls multiple confusion
On all we did or planned-
The mighty works we planned.
We only of Creation
(0h, luckier bridge and rail)
Abide the twin damnation-
To fail and know we fail.
Yet we - by which sole token
We know we once were Gods-
Take shame in being broken
However great the odds-
The burden of the Odds.
Oh, veiled and secret Power
Whose paths we seek in vain,
Be with us in our hour
Of overthrow and pain;
That we - by which sure token
We know Thy ways are true -
In spite of being broken,
Because of being broken
May rise and build anew
Stand up and build anew.
Planning to be a pilot? Here are some basic rules that should always be followed while flying.
1. Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal to the number(Notice the missing number?)
of take offs you've made.
2. Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.
3. Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous.
4. It s always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.
5. There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
6. The propeller is just a big fan in front of the plane used to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, you can actually watch the pilot start sweating.
7. When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No one has ever collided with the sky.
8. A good landing is one from which you can walk away. A great landing is one after which they can use the plane again.
9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself.
10. You know you’ve landed with the wheels up if it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.
11. The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability of survival and vice versa.
12. Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, the experience usually comes from bad judgment.
14. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. There are, however, no old, bold pilots.
15. In the ongoing battle between objects made of aluminum going hundreds of miles per hour and the ground going zero miles per hour, the ground has yet
Q: Are you OK?
A: I'm having a hot flash.
Q: Would you like some water?
A: I'd like to take my clothes off.
Q: Now is a good time for a break.
Oh to be a fly on that wall. More when this litigation is over...
[From the Volokh Conspiracy]
He has won over $1B in lawsuits and claimed that his hourly rate is a whopping $11K/hr. I bill that in about a week, at a Wall Street firm, to the finance titans.
Oh, and near the very bottom of this post, like his bio and write-up, you'll find mention of some piddling contributions to colleges and the construction of the "Black Family Channel." It is what it says it is. Silly me. I didn't notice the resemblence between the Garys and the Waltons at first.