OK, so I realize I'm getting ahead of myself here, but what exactly do I tell the IRS next April?
I'm not talking about the amusing but ultimately trivial question of what I put down as my job category. (Gold Farmer? Vaporware Vendor? Merchant of Dreams?) This is a tougher one, with rather more substantial implications both for me and the Ultima Online economy in general. It's the big question, in fact, the heart of it all, the only datum, finally, that the tax man is really interested in: What, precisely, is my income?
It is an interesting question whether the Tax Man™ can tax virtual money from a virtual economy, especially since the virtual economy in question is the 79th largest in the world (“Yes, you too can earn $3.42 an hour clicking the mouse!”). I wouldn't be surprised if Uncle Sam doesn't attempt this soon, especially given this from the IRS:
Illegal income. Illegal income, such as stolen or embezzled funds, must be included in your income on line 21 of Form 1040, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity.
If the IRS can say this with a straight face, then it's only a matter of time they start coming after non-existent money.
Astrologically, you are not what you seem. Unlike the inferior products sold by our competitors, our horoscopes take account of your one and a bit star sign shift to the left due to the precession of the equinoxes since the Stiwkuf invented astrology way back in the olden days. Also, and for no extra charge, we give you all thirteen of the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac. But wait! There is more, our meretricious “Zodiacal Light Program” will include, absolutely free and post free—provided you read Your True Horoscope within the next 666 days—the current and true details about the time the sun spends in each of the Astronomical Constellations of the Ecliptic. Now you could not do better than that could you?
Everything you thought you knew about your astrology sign is wrong!
Remember that whole 60s bit about entering the Age of Aquarius? Well,
that whole bit was about which sign the Spring Equinox falls in—these days
it is indeed in Aquarius. The original signs were done in the Age of Aries
and since then we've slipped through the Age of
Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the Astrologers, or they weren't listening (must have been all those drugs back then). Not only that, but there are actually thirteen constellations encircling the celestrial equator, not twelve! So using the above as a guide, I've constructed the following table so you too, can determine you actual astrological sign so you too, can read the correct forcast (sorry Ophiuchans, no fortunes for you!).
|Sign||Traditional dates||Actual dates||# actual days|
|Sign||Traditional dates||Actual dates||# actual days|
|Aries the Ram||March 21–April 20||April 19–May 13||32|
|Taurus the Bull||April 21–May 20||May 15–June 19||25|
|Gemini the Twins||May 21–June 21||June 20–July 20||31|
|Cancer the Crab||June 22–July 23||July 21–August 9||20|
|Leo the Lion||July 24–August 23||August 10–September 15||37|
|Virgo the Virgin||August 24–September 23||September 16–October 30||45|
|Libra the Scales||September 24–October 23||October 31–November 22||23|
|Scorpio the Scorpion||October 24–November 22||November 23–November 29||7|
|Ophiuchus the Snake Holder||N/A||November 30–December 17||18|
|Sagittarius the Archer||November 23–December 22||December 18–January 18||32|
|Capricorn the Goat||December 23–January 20||January 19–February 15||28|
|Aquarius the Water Bearer||January 21–February 19||February 16–March 11||24|
|Pisces the Fish||February 20–March 20||March 12–April 18||38|
Update on Monday, July 7th
I answered the phone. “Hello?” I said.
A faint click. I knew what was coming.
“Hello,” said the voice. “Can I please speak to … ” Slight pause. “Rob Summers?”
“I'm sorry, but … ” Slight pause. “Rob Summers … ” Slight pause. “is not here right now. Can I take a message?”
“No, that's okay. I'll call back at a better time.” Click.
This is the second time I've added a pause around the name of the requested person and it really seems to unnerve the telemarketers.
The prospect of Scientology or other non-mainstream religious groups profiting from the federal faith-based initiative has been a concern for leading Protestant evangelicals including Christian Coalition televangelist Pat Robertson. No sooner had Bush set up his White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives than Robertson was blasting the program on his “700 Club” television show.
“I really don't know what to do,” Robertson complained. “This thing (the initiative) could be a real Pandora's box. And what seems to be such a great initiative can rise up to bite the organizations as well as the federal government.”
For Robertson, the prospect of groups like the Hare Krishna Scientology, and even Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church receiving government funding to operate religion-saturated social programs was, well, profane.
This is funny.
I'm guessing that when President Bush first proposed this, Mr. Robertson was all too happy for it to pass and didn't pause to think what might happen.
Ah, unintended consequences …
Spring, the Kidlets and I went to a friend's house for the 4th. Throughout the house my friend had the following taped up on the walls:
THE PRICE THEY PAID
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.
Standing talk straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government!
Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.
So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July Holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid. Remember: Freedom is never free!
I hope you will show your support by please sending this to as many people as you can. It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and baseball games.
Quite a stirring tale there. But like all things found on the Internet
(where my friend found this) I wondered if there wasn't more to this. And
the one place I know that regularly
discredits discusses such
Internet tales is Snopes. Poked around some
The main point of this glurge is to impress upon us that the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were relatively well-educated and wealthy men who were also well aware they had much to lose by putting their names to that document, yet after much careful consideration and thought they signed it anyway, “knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured” (although the article omits mentioning that support for independence was far from unanimous, that some of the colonies voted against adopting the Declaration of Independence, and some of the delegates didn't affix their signatures to the document until several years later). The signers were courageous men who risked everything in the service of what they perceived to be a common good, and for that they are genuinely worthy of honor, respect, and admiration. Unfortunately, this article attempts to commemorate them with a train of glurge that jumps the track of truth at the very beginning and finally pulls into station bearing a simplified version of history in which all the incongruities that get in the way of a good story are glossed over. (We're still puzzling over exactly which history books “never told us a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War,” and if any history books failed to stress the obvious point that “we were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government,” it was probably because they reasonably assumed their readers could infer as much from the constant repetition of words such as “revolution” and “independence.”)
Spring, the Kidlets and I were invited to my friend C's house for Fourth of July celebrations. The Kidlets spent the time swimming, Spring spent the time attempting to catch a nap, and I spent the time hanging with friends, some of whom I haven't seen in several years.
The highlight of the day's festivities were the fireworks! C had obtained several boxes of the “slightly questionable” mortar-type fireworks—the type that go up several hundred feet and explode in a shower of colors. Once it got dark, it was time to set up. Mark (also a friend of C's and who caught a ride there with us) helped set up the lanching platform for the mortars.
Things started out calmly enough—one mortar at a time. Pretty soon confidence was gained to attempt the simultaneous launch of two, three, four mortars at a time, showering the area with fireworks. But as Spring said, “I've never done fireworks that there hasn't been at least one dud.”
And boy, was the dud spectacular.
No one is quite sure what exactly happened, but at attempt was made to light six mortars at the same time (ah, gotta love blowing stuff up!). All six fuses were lighted. A couple of seconds of anticipation go by. Hilarity ensues as one of the mortars is either stuck in the tube, was put in upsidedown by mistake, or didn't have enough ooomph for launch. Once it became apparent that it wasn't going to explode a few hundred feet above our heads but right in the middle of the street, people start scrambling for cover as we are caught within the blast radius of a live, “slightly questionable” firework.
It wasn't quite as bad as the picture makes it out to be (digression: I had set the digital camera for long exposures, on the order of a second or more, so having a live firework go off aproximately 50′ away basically overexposed the image—still, it's darned impressive) and luckily, given the circumstances, no one was hurt. And since the Kidlets where there, this is something we can bring up the next time they get “fireworks fevor” (the Younger is especially vulnerable to this infliction).
The show continued on, and afterwards, we cleaned up the spent fireworks, tore down the launch pad, said our goodbyes and went home happy that we were able to celebrate our freedom by blowing stuff up!
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 09:55:23 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jason <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
Subject: elaborate please
Could you make a post elaborating on this one http://boston.conman.org/2003/07/03.1
You have me throuroughly confused. (see I cant even spell now … BAH!)
Email from Jason
This is certainly harder than I thought.
If (and this is a big hypothetical situation here), if you could see the stars when the sun is up in the sky, you would notice that slowly over the course of a year the stars would slowly shift relative to the sun (you can, however, notice this at night when certain groupings of stars, called contellations, rise a few minutes earlier each night). The path the sun makes through the backdrop of stars is called the ecliptic; the planets also appear along this path as well. Along this path are constellations—there are thirteen along the ecliptic, that the sun passes through during the year.
Why astrologers only consider twelve I do not know (I can speculate and say that twelve had religious significance as the Sumerians, Akkadians, Greeks and Romans had 12 major gods in their respective pantheons, and twelve is also easily divisible in half, thirds and fourths, and is a factor in 60, which the Sumerians used as their counting base, but like I said, this is speculation on my part) but only twelve signs are counted in the Zodiac house. The dates that the sun is travelling through a particular Zodiac constellation become the dates for that “sign,” so the sun is in Aries between March 21st (or the 20th or 22nd) through April 20th (or the 19th or 21st—depending upon which astrologer you listen to).
Only that's not true. It was, about 2,100 years ago. But the earth “wobbles” as it spins and this “wobble” (called precession) causes the sun to shift its path along the ecliptic for another cycle of about 26,000 years (the North Star is also affected by this—13,000 years from now Polaris will be some 23° away from the North Pole, but 26,000 years from now it will again be the Pole Star). This shifting means that the dates the sun is travelling across Aries (and the rest of the signs) has changed over the years, until today, when the sun is in Aries between April 19th through May 13th.
Also, the constellations are not the same size; Virgo is easily twice the size as Libra. This messes things up even more as the “longest” sign (Virgo) is 45 days, the shortest sign (Scorpius) is only 7 days with the average being 28 days (actually, it gets even worse—I added up the days given for each sign and came up 5 days short so you can't even trust the astrology debunking sites to get this right!).
So, even assumign that astrology is “legit,” every astrologer (and horoscope) is working under wrong assumptions and are a sign behind the times (more or less).
Does this clear things up?
Today was not a good day (you would think that after being grounded for a week after playing with matches, the Younger would have learned “Fire Bad!” but alas, he was again caught, this time with a lighter—I'm guessing in his mind, that wasn't a match).
Last night I received email from Mark informing me of DNS problems with both our primary and secondary DNS servers. The primary DNS server (which is maintained by my old roommate Rob) was no longer responding; no idea what is up with our secondary DNS server (which is maintained by our friend Kelly) and it was causing problems for Mark. I knew there was nothing to be done then about the primary server since Rob goes out clubbing Thursday nights and besides, the secondary DNS server was there.
Today, I started looking at the problem a bit more. One of the things Mark and I have been meaning to do, now that we have a new server, is register it as a name server; this was something that was easier to do a few years ago (with Network Solutions through email) but I've yet to find out how to do this with my current registrar. I finally got a hold of Rob around 3:00 pm and informed him of the problem with his server. Major problem: he wasn't in a position to check the server, and probably wouldn't for some time (hours at least). And I was still under the impression that the secondary DNS server was still working.
It wasn't until I was over at the GM's house (for tonight is D&D night) and I tried bringing up pictures from the 4th that I realized things might be worse than they appear. I couldn't bring up my site, or any site on my server. I then spent the rest of the time there tracking down the problem (partly because I host the game's website and manage the party mailing list, but partly because this could seriously affect email—my email!). I can rule out the primary DNS server—it's still down and there isn't much I can do so I start looking into the secondary DNS server and that's when i realize that Kelly must have moved his DNS in a hurry and forgot that he was our backup. It further appeared that his DNS was now being hosted by another friend of ours, Chris.
It was then that I learned that Kelly was out of town for the weekend. So too, was Mark, although I was able to talk to him and find out how to make the necessary DNS changes on Chris' box (long story short: Mark set up a system to allow Chris to make DNS changes and unless you know what you are doing it's easy to screw up the configuration). I then called Chris to get the root password to make the changes and informed that Mark told me exactly what to do, he relented (another long story short: Mark (and to a lesser extent, Kelly and I) help Chris run his server—he was just concerned that any DNS changes I made might break his system).
I successfully reconfigured the DNS server, although I did use the wrong files (outdated information) and it took several editing passes for me to clean up the information. All while the rest of the players were trying to deal with a trapped corridor in the dungeon.
Not a good day at all.
Normally, I don't add commentary about the images, but for this I feel I must for three reasons—one, it's last week's challenge that I didn't bother posting in time; two, the small image makes it hard to see the rather amusing symmetry going on and three, the full sized image is quite large (too see the detail that's lost on the smaller version). This was taken at the local Publix and on the left is your health food section and on the right is the the candy section.
Yes, that is a rather warped form of symmetry there and I can only conclude it's intentional on the part of Publix.
First it was:
In 1988 in Las Vegas, a DEA agent was convicted of illegal wiretapping but his conviction was overturned when it turned out that the FBI had illegally put a video camera in his office.
Then it was:
A few years ago the left-wing government of Angola employed Cuban troops to defend US oil refineries against a Maoist revolutionary supported by the Reagan Administration. It's hard to be politically correct when the world starts to look like “Monty Python's flying Circus.”
–R. Shweder, New York Times, September 27th, 1993
And recently …
You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the U.S. of arrogance, and Germany doesn't want to go to war.
But this … this …
In a letter to President Bush, a group of CIA veterans charge the vice president drove the U.S. to war with a “campaign of deceit”—and call for his head.
The CIA, calling the Vice President deceitful … I'm having a serious disconnect here …
Since the 1970s and 1980s, state lotteries have been popular means of helping to fill state coffers. Today 39 states have lotteries and several more have voted to join the crowd. Many states sell the lottery concept to the public with the promise that a large portion of the proceeds will benefit public schools.
As I was reading the article, an odd though crossed my mind. As I've often said, the lottery (and we have one here in Florida) is a tax break for the smart (odds of winning the Florida Lottery: 1 in 14,000,000) and even though we've had this lottery since 1988 the thought that the proceeds went to education never struck me as odd until just now.
Think of it for a moment. If schools actually did their purported job of raising educated citizens with the funds from a lottery, then said educated citizens would realize just how much of a crap shoot a lottery is and stop wasting their money buying into it. Even more scary is this quote:
But today, he adds, state lotteries have become a type of institution. “I don't think they can be cut now,” he says. “Once it gets in there, the state becomes pretty dependent on this for revenue.”
What's likely for the future is more state involvement in lotteries and other forms of gambling as well, McGowan forecasts.
It seems to me that states that rely upon lottery money for revenue don't exactly want edumakated konsumors realizing just how bad an investment the lottery is. Then again, it's not like you can force people to be intelligent (and thus the cynical side of me says that lotteries are here to stay).
Among the reasons [historian William Dunning, James Randall and James Rhodes] all labeled [Abraham] Lincoln a “dictator” are his initiating and conducting a war by decree for months without the concent of Congress; suspending habeas corpus; conscripting the railroads and censoring telegraph lines; imprisoning without trial as many as thirty thousand Northern citizens for voicing opposition to war; deporting a member of Congress—Clement L. Vallandigham of Ohio, a fierce opponent of the Morrill Tariff and the central bank—for merely opposing Lincoln's income tax at a Democratic Party rally in Ohio; and shutting down hundreds of Northern newspapers and imprisoning some of their editors for simply disagreeing in print with his war policies.
Abraham Lincoln and the Triumph of Mercantilism by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
I've heard of Lincoln suspending habeas corpus (although not from sitting in US History at school) but I hadn't realized it was quite that bad in the 1860s. I've also heard that the Civil War (1861-65) was less about slavery than it was an economic attack against the United States economic system by the British (Part II, Part III) and this essay does cover that aspect in that the Confederate States (and Britain) were in favor of free trade whereas Lincoln and the newly formed Rebublican Party (the Party Formerly Known as the Whigs) wanted a mercantilistic system:
Mercantilism, which reached its height in the Europe of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was a system of statism which employed economic fallacy to build up a structure of imperial state power, as well as special subsidy and monopolistic privilege to individuals or groups favored by the state.
The Logic of Action Two by Murray N. Rothbard
Which doesn't sound too far off from the modern Republican Party.
It's scary to think that Lincoln, whose power exceeded that of Bush & Co., is considered, if not the greatest President, then easily one of the Top Three Presidents, does that mean that in a hundred years, Dubya will be afforded the same level of reverance?
And unlike entries here, there you can leave comments!
Since 9:00 am this morning, Spring has been doing the Blogathon thang, blogging every half hour to raise money for ASACP. She started by blogging art sites, but now she's out war driving with a mutual friend and blogging on the road.
Very cool, and I'm jealous that I didn't get a chance to go.
Ah well …
Just some random shots I took while out for lunch; the disposable fly trap was the oddest thing I've seen in a while.
From: Van Dyke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: WINNING NOTIFICATION/FINAL NOTICE
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003 21:53:16 +0200
FROM: COINGOGAMES PROMOTION/PRIZE AWARD DEPT.
RE: WINNING NOTIFICATION/FINAL NOTICE
We are pleased to inform you of the result of the of the COINGOGAMES Lottery International programs held on the 28th of July 2003. Your e-mail address attached to ticket number 20511465886-629 with serial number 3772-99 drew lucky numbers 7-14-17-23-31-44 which consequently won in the 2nd category, you have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of One Million United State Dollars (US$1,000,000) CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Due to mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential until your claims has been processed and your money remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants.
All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 100,000 company and 50,000,000 individual email addresses and names from all over the world. This promotional program takes place every three year. We hope with part of your winning you will take part in our end of year 50 million Euro International lottery. To file for your claim, please contact our Fiduciary Agent MR. RICHARD MYERS OF QUANTUM DIPLOMATIC COMPAN, TEL: 0031-612-481-990.
Remember, all winning must be claimed not later than 11th of August 2003. After this date all unclaimed funds will be included in the next stake. Please note in order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications please remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers in all correspondence. Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent as soon as possible.
Congratulations once more from our members of staff and thank you for being part of our promotional program.
Note: Anybody under the age of 18 is automatically disqualified.
Wow! I won!
But I've never heard of COINGOGAMES, so I did what I usually do and did a Google search and imagine my surprise when a lot of mailing lists won, but due to a mixup …
Didn't think so.
Computers control your mind. Keanu Reeves is your only hope.
Geez, with that synopsis it sounds more like a horror movie.
Interesting, someone reviewed the trailer of Matrix Reloaded. Amusing.
In the movie Fight Club, the real name of the protagonist (Ed Norton's character) is never revealed. And while some feel the only reason behind this is to give the character more of an “everyman” quality, I say, do not be deceived. Because it's obvious to anyone with working eyes that “Jack” is actually someone whom many of us grew up with, someone who might've been present at all your childhood breakfasts of Sugar Frosted Chocolate Bombs. You see, “Jack” from Fight Club and Calvin from the greatest comic strip ever, “Calvin and Hobbes,” are in fact the exact same person!
JERRY: Today we are going to talk with people who have a desire to confront their friends and family. Joining us now is Luke and his girlfriend Leia. (Camera shifts to Luke and Leia occupying the stage, sitting in chairs next to each other holding hands) Now Luke is a young man who's been in and out of trouble with the law but he says that he wouldn't be in so much trouble if it weren't for one man; a man Luke claims killed his father, his family, and his friend, but was never charged with the crime and is still walking free. (Audience gasps, horrified) Luke, would you like to explain a bit further?
I like Batman. I'm a fan.
But I haven't really enjoyed any of the Batman films, until I saw Batman: Deadend (link via Via PenguinBoi). It looks like the comic book and the Joker in this eight minute film is the best I've seen on film yet. The dialog is a bit corny, but nothing worse than you'll find in any comic book, but the production values otherwise are incredible.
I just wish it was longer than eight minutes.
To top off a very bad week, someone keyed my car.
Not only did this person key the driver side of my car, they also keyed the passenger side of my car.
Not only did this person key both sides of my car, they also keyed the hood of my car.
To whom it may concern: you forgot the trunk.