URLs du Jour

2008-04-15

  • Happy Tax Day, everybody! Those who can deal with a bit—well, OK, a lot—of profanity will want to check out Rachel Lucas's tirade on tax-paying.

  • A similar post from Megan McArdle is also worth checking out, and Megan keeps it PG, but she's pretty steamed:
    I should not have, in the course of paying my debt to society, to spend nine hours answering questions about my educational habits, proclivity to recycle, the location of my potentially qualified small business, whether or not I happen to farm, or any of the 87 trillion other things TurboTax wanted to know. It might have been 87 zillion. Frankly, I lost count.

    More than two hundred years ago, we fought a whole revolution and everything to get the government to leave us the hell alone. Now it thinks it's entitled to know whether I am a qualified small business owning woman. Small business? Check. Woman? Check. Qualified? Who the hell do you think you are, Mr. Tax Man?

    Megan gets the coveted Read The Whole Thing Award for the day, because there's much more there, including a tax proposal that's both (a) a self-evident immense improvement over the current system and (b) a total political impossibility.

  • You can send your blood pressure still closer to the danger zone by perusing today's WSJ editorial on "The Loophole Factory", which examines how Congress eagerly creates new tax-code "benefits" for well-connected industries.
    Congress is creating all of these new loopholes even as overall tax revenues are slowing and this year's budget deficit could reach $450 billion to $500 billion. This will play nicely into the hands of Democrats who contend that the lower tax rates of 2001 and 2003 must expire to pay the government's bills. So we could soon have the worst of all worlds: a leaky tax code full of exceptions for powerful interests, but with ever higher rates to make up for the loopholes. Congress gets PAC contributions in return for the loopholes, plus any extra revenue from the tax hike. The losers are taxpayers who aren't powerful or rich enough to afford a tax lobbyist.
    My only quibble is with the editorial's description on (today's) main page:
    For Democrats, tax "fairness" means raising rates so they can sell breaks to the highest bidder.
    The body of the editorial makes it abundantly clear that loophole-generation is a bipartisan effort. Republicans are largely angling to get their own giveaways included in legislation, or playing meek doormats. (A regrettable local example is provided by our own Senator Sununu.)

  • It's a good day to recall the words of the great philosopher Arthur Godfrey:
    I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is – I could be just as proud for half the money.
    That's from the Tax Quotes page maintained by … the IRS! At taxpayer expense! I can't decide whether to be outraged or amused!

    (The page dutifully reminds: "These quotes reflect the opinions of their authors; their inclusion here is not an official IRS endorsement of the sentiments expressed." OK. Amusement wins.)

  • On to less taxing matters: Congratulations to Joe Malchow's Dartblog, the deserving winner of this year's "Best College Blog" award from America's Future Foundation. Joe, and the university on the other side of our fair state, should be proud.

  • On the lighter side, we've been occasionally amused by the MPAA's brief explanations under their movie ratings. The Iron Law of the Internet: one person's occasional amusement can be turned into a full-fledged obsession by someone with adequate time on their hands. Hence, you can take Ken Jennings' quiz to see if you can identify a movie, given the year, rating, and MPAA description. An easy one:
    2004: “R for graphic crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language - all involving puppets.”
    (If you get stuck, the Google loves to look up quotes.) Ken links to an allmovie article containing the "Top 10 funniest MPAA explanations."


Last Modified 2008-04-17 3:36 PM EST

Beowulf

[Amazon Link] [2.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

You might remember the basic plot from high school lit class: Hrothgar and his Danish kingdom are sorely tried by ravaging monster Grendel; a band of out-of-town Geats led by our title character show up to dispatch same. But Grendel has a mom, and she's a little ticked at that.

A simple story, but the movie script has been Gaimanized to make it more complicated, gray-scaled, and interesting. Grendel is more like the cranky geezer trying to get the rowdy neighbor to quiet down his raucous partying. Sure, he's overreacting a bit—biting peoples' heads off and all—but we're more sympathetic. Grendel's mom is kind of a babe. And the movie seems to want to make a point about heroic leadership making Faustian bargains with their supposed foes. Fine.

The movie is shot in that CGI/live-action hybrid process previously used in The Polar Express. It allows for spectacular effects, but also gives the human actors a creepy Disney-animatronic look all too often.

There are also a number of shots that will tell you, if you didn't know already, that there's a 3-D version out there somewhere. As anyone who's seen Dr. Tongue's Evil House of Pancakes will tell you, those effects look pretty lame on a TV.

But still, it's a pretty good yarn.


Last Modified 2012-10-12 8:26 AM EST