Ah, the opportunity to reflect on how craptacular our tax system is. Because of my stipend in grad school, there was no withholding, so we had to send in quarterly estimated taxes. Our Illinois state tax was always pretty close (last year it was only a $37 refund…that’s about as good as you can get). Illinois also has a flat tax system (3%) that’s pretty simple if you’re not a farmer (if there’s one special interest group that political folk in Illinois love, it’s farmers….deductions all over the place. You could even buy a Hummer in state with no sales tax because it qualified as a “farm vehicle”). Federal income tax…not so much. I’d always fill out their worksheet at the beginning of the tax year and then proceed to be hundreds of dollars of when I filed taxes the next year. This year we had to pay well over a thousand dollars. This tells me that the fed tax code is so freakin’ complicated that they can’t even tell people how to estimate how their final bill will turn out.
Humor me for a second while I go on my usual rant about why can’t we just have a single tax rate with an exemption on, say, the first $30,000 of income per person and no other exemptions or credits. I mean none…none for retirement, dependents, mortgage interest, income earned from commercial fishing operations, etc…none. So if an individual made $50K per year and the tax rate was 20%, you’d pay $4000 (0.2 * (50K – 30K)). If you make less than $30K or a married couple makes less than $60K, then they’d pay nothing. Not rocket science.
- In other news, congrats to the Illini for their win over Indiana! Take that Eric Gordon and thug-a-rific Kelvin Sampson. Doubt they can beat Wisconsin today, but hopefully this is enough to get them off the bubble and into the tournament. I got my Dee Brown headband on today.
- I stumbled across this awesome site while trying to find an Internet stream for Illini basketball (if you’re into Bit Torrent). They have the Chief’s Last Dance and a DVD-playable copy of the Illini’s miracle comeback against Arizona (the latter takes about a day to download since there’s not many seeds for the 4GB file). I think one of the commenters on the Arizona torrent put it best:
i cried when i saw the dvd menu. this is outstanding!
By the way, if anyone knows of any radio stations with audio streams that let you listen to Illini basketball live, please do share.
- On a less positive note, Clemson did completed yet another end of the season implosion by losing in the first round of the ACC tournament. After starting out 18-0, they finished like 3-10 and blew any chance of going to the NCAAs. Just like the football team falls about every year (sometimes in the beginning, usually in the end) or the baseball team ends up in the top 5 every year only to go two and out in the College World Series. Sigh.
- Some great Mac parodies: The One thing PC users can do that Mac users can’t and The Onion reports on Apple Unveils New Product-Unveiling Product.
- Is it just me or does anyone else who comes across Headline News wonder if someone would actually name their kid “Rally”?
- The US Postal Service is actually doing something so unbelievably cool that I pledge not to complain about their next postage increase. If it’s going towards this kind of innovation, it’s worth it. I gotta find one of these R2D2 mailboxes and get a picture next to it!
- We watched The Prestige last night. Great movie! Just the right amount of twists and turns without getting too convoluted. You do have to be willing to suspend reality for a little bit though :).
- Leigh Ann was filling out a background check to volunteer with the Red Cross online this week and it was one of those deals where you have to use Internet Explorer. Presumably, they do this for security which is kind of ironic since IE and it’s Active-X self isn’t exactly known as the pinnacle of secure computing. Pretty much any time a site only works in IE, that should be considered a design flaw. Either the site designer was incompetent, lazy, or has a system to complex for a web app. From now on, anytime I see these sites, I’m going to submit bug reports to the webmaster.
- Let’s say someone just started shooting bullets up in the air in a crowded area. While not intentionally aiming at anyone, there’s a pretty good chance a bullet could fall and kill an innocent bystander. The cops see this, ask the person so stop shooting repeatedly, and then fire a beanbag gun to subdue him when he doesn’t stop. Unfortunately, the beanbag hits the shooter just right and turns him into a quadriplegic. Should he be allowed to sue the police for the resulting injury? I say no. Duh. The Supreme Court is currently deciding just such a case but in the context of a high-speed car chase.
- I’m probably just getting old, but is anyone else a little weirded out by all these kids that’ll be walking around and then all of a sudden wheels just sprout out of their shoes and they roll past you? Oh those whippersnappers.
- I always suspected iTunes didn’t adhere to a uniform distribution when it came to its “random” selections. Looks like someone else agrees. They’re even more conspiracy minded…are some labels paying for better placement in the algorithm?