URLs du Jour — 2013-04-14

  • Tax It's that time of year again. Since Pun Salad does not provide legal advice of any kind, I can not suggest you follow any of the advice contained in this classic Dave Barry column from 1997.

    It's time for my annual tax-advice column, which always draws an enthusiastic response from grateful readers.

    "Dear Dave, " goes a typical letter. "Last year, following your advice, I was able to receive a large tax refund simply by claiming a $43,000 business deduction for 'paste.' I am currently chained to a wall in federal prison, but they tell me that, with good behavior, in 25 years they'll remove the skull screws. Thanks a lot!"

  • Kevin D. Williamson brings us the happy news that local health bureaucrats are producing Obamacare regulations that are totally reality-based and will save us all a bunch of money real soon now.

    Just kidding!

    The District of Columbia's Obamacare czars --- the board that sets rules for the phony insurance marketplace, or "exchange," that the law creates --- have decided that henceforth insurers shall be forbidden by law to charge smokers higher rates than non-smokers. Smoking, as it turns out, "is a preexisting medical condition," according to Dr. Mohammad Akhter, the chairman of the D.C. Health Exchange Board. Two liberal states, California and Connecticut, have decided likewise, while Colorado and Alaska have rejected the idea.

    The obvious point: non-smokers get to subsidize the health care costs of smokers.

    The slightly less obvious points: the Einsteins behind this decision are unelected and unaccountable. They make decisions unencumbered by rationality or constraint. There are myriads of decisions like this coming down the pike, and they will wind up destroying the health insurance market.

    But of course, that's what Obamacare was designed to do.

  • For us non-Twitterers, Iowahawk is hard to find these days. But here he is reflecting on the recent profundities emanating from the mouth of one Melissa Harris-Perry, for example that "we" should "recognize that kids belong to their communities." The Hawk concentrates on the thought-corrupting, Orwellian language used:

    One of the creepier features of lefty language is the application of possessive pronouns. "My" is for rights (real or imagined), "your" is for responsibilities, "our" is for the stuff in my bank account they want to take. Unless it's the case of "our responsibility" in which case they actually mean "your responsibility." As the old saying goes, "what's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable."

  • Iowahawk's observation has been made by others. Here is one of my favorite examples, from the late Underground Grammarian, written back in 1987 (space down to "The Witching Our: Pronominal and Participial Considerations from our Acting Adjunct Sociogrammatologist") He wrote about some earnest babbler of that age who demanded that something be done "to protect our young and needy."

    My admonisher is surely sincere, and, although history does not suggest that it is out of a lack of sincerity that tyrants and other monsters are made, I do believe that he believes that the result of his admonition, somewhere down that long, long road of consequence, will be of some good to some child. And that may be so. In other words, I do not suppose him a man who designs to deceive. Why is it, then, that he talks like a liar?

    The UG is sorely missed.

  • Cracked lists "The 5 Creepiest Ways Major Companies Are Watching You".

    Not a bad article. But here's an interesting combination of facts:

    1. Microsoft has an anti-Google site, scroogled.com which details all the different slimy tactics Google uses to make money off your personal information: e.g., using the text of your Gmail to position ads; providing your personal information to Google Play app-sellers; using paid ads for shopping-search results. Ack, horrible, horrible Google!

    2. Gosh, thank goodness at least one company—Microsoft—is dedicated to its customers' privacy.

      Oh, wait. From the Cracked article:

      Microsoft filed a patent back in 2010 for a proprietary technology that will scan your emails, text messages, and browsing history, while monitoring your facial expressions and speech via webcam or Kinect (if you have an Xbox) to try and determine your emotional state, delivering ads that they think will appeal to your current mood.

    If you want me, I will be in a cave with an abacus, trying to protect my computing privacy.

Last Modified 2013-06-19 10:09 AM EDT