Friday, February 27, 2009

Oklahoma City Native TV Series Creator Visits Hometown

I haven't watched the show but the creator of Saving Grace came to town on a promotion tour:
The Oklahoma City native executive producer of the TNT drama, Saving Grace, made a publicity visit to her hometown today to kick off the drama’s third season.

Based in Oklahoma City, the Nancy Miller-created drama will return to TNT March 2 at 9 p.m. Miller’s series debuted in 2007 as the summer’s most-watched cable series with plenty of cultural references to Oklahoma and many scenes filmed on location in Oklahoma City.

I understand much of the show has little to do with Oklahoma City except for a few passing references and even fewer scenes actually filmed here. That's to be expected and I don't fault the producers for that. What bothers me is this:
Although Miller would love to be able to film more of the series in Oklahoma City, budget constraints have prevented the series from being able to capture more Sooner State settings. For the cast and crew to travel to Oklahoma to film would require a steep investment from local and state officials along with businesses.

Budget constraints? Of local and state officials and businesses? Yes, by all means, film elsewhere because having a Hollywood production come to town and spill a little of its wealth around would be just too expensive. No thanks. Go film somewhere else.

No, when Hollywood says budget constraints they mean theirs not ours. They're just too cheap to come out here because, oh, I don't know, the cost of living out here is so high when you compare it to a place like, well, California, a bankrupt state where they, apparently, have no problem "investing" in television productions.

Chesapeake Energy Announces Reorganization for West Virginia Office

I didn't know Chesapeake had a West Virginia office that needed reorganizing:
Oklahoma City-headquartered Chesapeake Energy said today it will reorganize its Charleston, W.Va.-based Eastern Division.

The division will evolve from a regional corporate headquarters to a regional field office consistent with the business model the company uses elsewhere in the country, officials said.

Ominous news in that if this behemoth of an Oklahoma company has to "reorganize" - read, close - an office, the future may not look as bright as it could.

Stay tuned.

Rocky Mountain News to Close

It's not the paper we read when we go to Colorado but it's news when a major paper like The Rocky Mountain News goes under:
The Rocky Mountain News publishes its last paper tomorrow.

Rich Boehne, chief executive officer of Rocky-owner Scripps, broke the news to the staff at noon today, ending nearly three months of speculation over the paper's future.

"People are in grief," Editor John Temple said a noon news conference.

But he was intent on making sure the Rocky's final edition, which would include a 52-page wraparound section, was as special as the paper itself.

"This is our last shot at this," Temple said at a second afternoon gathering at the newsroom. "This morning (someone) said it's like playing music at your own funeral. It's an opportunity to make really sweet sounds or blow it. I'd like to go out really proud."

What's to blame? The economy, to be sure, is partly responsible but this kind of failure takes a long time to happen. No, the paper's nails in its coffins are from the changing technology; the economy only hammered them in. There's a reason why we don't pick up a copy of the News when we're in Colorado and why I have the Denver Post bookmarked in my browser. Sad news, to be sure, for those who'll be losing their jobs but the march is inevitable.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama's 2% Illusion

Obama proposes a tax increase on the rich but promises households making less than $250,000 won't be touched, tax-increasewise:
President Obama has laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda since LBJ, and now all he has to do is figure out how to pay for it. On Tuesday, he left the impression that we need merely end "tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans," and he promised that households earning less than $250,000 won't see their taxes increased by "one single dime."

This is going to be some trick. Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can't possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama's new spending ambitions.

Class envy plays well - if it weren't for all those rich, greedy people out there, the rest of us could afford to have nice things - but in this case, it's no solution. As the WSJ points out, even if Obama confiscated 100% of earnings over $250,000, it wouldn't be enough. Sure, the rich should pay more tax - they already do, with most tax breaks phasing out at the higher levels. (One person's tax break is another person's tax loophole.) The point is, how much is enough?

Obama just just signed into law a huge stimulus package with little worry of how to pay for it. We need the stimulus package so we can't be bothered about these details like how we'll pay for it. (Me, I'm of the belief that deficits don't really matter, or, at least, they don't matter as much as tax rates, so we should decide on what we need to do then do it. We wouldn't be looking at the price tag if we had to go to war. Why start now?) Apparently, we don't need universal health care because now Obama wants to be fiscally responsible. To do that, he doesn't mind playing the class card.

SNAFU Alert

I'm at home this morning, waiting for the cable people to come and do their thing. Clara wants - and deserves, dang it! - HD TV and she'll get it. Swapping out Internet provider, too, so I expect things to go smoothly. If they don't, that'll be the reason for light posting here. As if I need one.

Fish With Transparent Head

Eeewww!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dilbert Nails It

Dilbert.com

The President's Speech

Didn't catch it but the online reviews are pretty much split ideologically. No surprises there but it's too soon to tell what affect, if any, his re-assurances and admonitions and all around pep-talk, if it was a pep talk, it will have on the economy in general.

It doesn't matter, really. There's only so much government can do. The rest, as always, is up to us. Be prepared to take some hits, be prepared to stand on your own, be prepared to lend a hand. It's whats always worked before and it's what'll work now.

Oh, and tax cuts. That'll help, too.

Oklahoma City Professionals Twittering on Success

Another article on why you should be twittering, or otherwise using technology to network not only personally but professionally:
At roughly the same time Oklahoma City chef Ryan Parrott was home sick in bed, Saxum PR representative Lindsay Laird was wrapping up a call to a client extolling the virtues of social media, commercial photographer and brewery owner J.D. Merryweather was making plans for his new business venture, and business consultant Shelley Cadamy was asking for help lining up a glass shop to fix her vandalized windshield.

Four separate people moving in totally different circles. But all four knew what the others were doing and, to some degree, were a part of it, thanks to the latest social networking fad.

Twitter.com kept these four in touch, but it’s just one of many sites – Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and Pulse – that keep people connected around the globe and down the street.

If you've been following my tweets on the sidebar, you've seen I've been enjoying myself the last couple of days. I'll reserve my opinion about the matter until I've spent some more time with it but so far it's been fun and that's no bad thing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Who Watched The Oscars?

Not us. Looks like we didn't miss much:
Was it just me, or were the Oscars like the longest episode of "American Idol" ever? First, Ryan Seacrest interviewed all the contestants—oops, make that nominees—on the red carpet. Then, the stage was suspiciously similar to the circular "Idol" platform, and the live show began with a musical number from host Hugh Jackman. The first winner was announced by a panel, though unfortunately Paula Abdul wasn't on it. And at some point in the evening, Jackman appeared with Beyonce, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens to cover a strange assortment of Broadway tunes.

Glad Slumdog won though, for reasons detailed here. Unlike prior years, we only saw one of the nominees and that was it. The others played here briefly before their nomination and were gone, or banished to impossibly late start times for parents of two.

Quick, what won last year? Yeah, me neither.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Twitterific

I've started using Twitter a little more seriously today. Wasn't long before the good people at the OSCPA picked me up and started following me. I've promised to learn more to see what I can do with Twitter and that's what my plans are while I wait for Rachel. Why not include me on your following list? I'll put you on mine.

More OYO Rehearsal

I'm back here.

Something different this time:



Rachel's not rehearsing there on the other side of the glass; that's the Oklahoma Youth Philharmonic, which she was a part of last year. The glass divider is new and intended to encompass the sound, I guess, but I'm plugged in to my iPod and I'm hearing everything loud and clear. Beautiful, sure, but I was hoping to log some iPod time, nonetheless. Well, you take your blessings where you can get them.

The view from the building's front window is a little different than three weeks ago:




Daylight, it's called.

I used my cell phone for the pictures and squirted them over using Bluetooth. The internet connection's a little spotty but that could be because there's a bunch of us out there trying to glom onto the free wi-fi. There were 8 devices alone that my Bluetooth doo hickey was picking up.

Rachel and I had a fine ride in - she had her own iPod with her and she indulged me with her 80s playlist. She promised more for the ride home. That's okay. Her company alone is enough to make the ride memorable.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Storm System Batters South Coweta

The day after Aunt Toni got home, tornadoes slammed her hometown:
At least one tornado touched down Wednesday evening in Coweta County doing extensive damage to southern portions of the county.

She was all right - she was on the road to the river house when the tornado watch commenced but everything was all right back at her house.

Her daughter, Shannon, though, had a close call. She works at, and lives near, Bear Creek Farm:
Residents of Fincher Road at Bear Creek Farm in Moreland were at home when the tornado struck. The funnel snapped a row of approximately 50 trees, brought down power lines and damaged portions of a fence -- among other things.

Guy Cooper and his wife were at home on their 1,200 acre farm when, without warning, they heard "roaring -- like a train coming," said Cooper. Then, the power went out and they heard a loud bang. The husband and wife made it safely to a closet before the tornado ripped through their property.

"It came and went very quickly," recalled Cooper. He said he counted a matter of minutes between first hearing the roar and being left in silence.

"As quickly as it came, it left -- and it left a path of destruction," Cooper continued. "We were very lucky, though." He was grateful that no horses or livestock died, and his house was not damaged.

Holy moley! But Shannon was all right, too. Some spooky moments in the hallway of her house with her whimpering and shivering dogs but they made it just fine. The electricity was out overnight but it was back on in the morning.

So, a close call, averted. Lucky, I'd say.

(Here's Shannon's page from the Bear Creek Farm website. I can't download the picture so click through to see her in action.)

Aunt Toni Chooses to Grace Us With Her Presence

Aunt Toni chose to spend part of her mid-Winter break with us and we were glad she did. We haven't seen her in something like 18 months or so - the last couple of times we've passed through her home state of Georgia on our way to and from Florida we haven't been able to hook up. About time, is what I say.

We didn't do much of anything special, which was fine with everyone. She dropped by the office on Friday and I showed her around - lunch time and only Terra and Kyle and Charles were around. That evening she took the girls to see the new Pink Panther movie. Saturday we took in the Oklahoma History Center.

Here's the only picture I got from the museum, the Winnie Mae, Wiley Post's airplane:




(Insert your own joke about how the two airports in Oklahoma City are named after aviators who died in the same plane crash.)

Very interesting museum and, like most, not nearly enough time to see everything there. Oklahoma has a unique history and the museum does a great job presenting it. Oh, and this appeals to the accountant in me: it's only 5 bucks! Go there today!

Monday was a holiday so I took the day off and we went to another museum, The National Cowboy & Western Museum. Haven't been there in ages and it's quite different than how I remember it. Less rodeo history - though there's still plenty of that but re-done in a you're-there-in-the-chutes kind of way - and more about frontier and cowboy life. Best of all: a fine exhibit about western movies. Plenty of John Wayne memorabilia to keep Aunt Toni, Queen of the John Wayne fans, more than interested.

Here's she reads the information thingie about John Wayne and his relationship to the Western Museum.



And here she tries not to be too distracted by the big man's big gun.



I was a little confused about where I could and where I couldn't take pictures - museums are touchy! - so I didn't. But we had a great time. You can't help but have a great time with Aunt Toni.

A final pose with the girls:



She headed home Tuesday morning after we did a bagel and coffee at Panera. The ride to work without her around was exceptionally quiet.

Good to see her. Hope it isn't too long before we see her again. Maybe the annual trip to Florida we'll be lucky.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Atwitter

As if I don't have enough to do, now I'm told I should be on Twitter:
While many CPAs are still getting used to the idea of blogs and instant messaging, many others are rushing to deploy the very newest, bleeding-edge technologies for operational productivity and client service.

CPAs and CPA firms are increasingly turning up in such venues as LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and Plaxo. More and more firms are blogging, podcasting and even YouTube-ing for fresh recruits and for new clients. Individual professionals are expanding their career-management and client-referral networks at leaps and bounds. And now we’re seeing a rush to Twitter, the “micro-blogging” platform.

My intent for this blog was to be a mix of personal, business, and anything else I want to talk about (Thus, my logline: Blather about dang near anything.) but I'd want my tweets to be more about business.

I dunno. I'll consider it. I've enjoyed the few Twitter accounts I've dropped in on and the micro aspect of it appeals to my teeny tiny span of attention. If the AICPA recommends it, who am I to resist?

OKC Officer Pulls Man Over for Anti-Obama Sign

Watch your signs:
The police officers who stopped Oklahoma City motorist Chip Harrison and confiscated a sign from his car told him he has a right to his beliefs, but the Secret Service "could construe this as a threat against President Obama," according to the incident report released this morning.

The sign, which read "Abort Obama Not the Unborn," was returned to Harrison later that day, the report said.

Police spokesman Steve McCool said this morning that the sign was taken in error, and Oklahoma City residents should not be worried that their First Amendment rights will be violated.

Sure, we could talk about free speech and the restriction thereof - I'm of the belief this wasn't a pullover by the free speech police but rather an unfortunate interpretation of a sign - but forget all that. Here's the important thing from the story:

The police spokesman's name is Steve McCool.

Cool.

John Legend Will Gladly Pay More Taxes

Good for Mr. Legend:
During the “Declare Yourself” pre-inaugural ball Sunday, five-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter John Legend told CNSNews.com that he will “gladly pay more taxes” if the government invests in renewable energy and universal health care. He also said Barack Obama’s election has made musical artists more creative.

“I’ll gladly pay more taxes if we can have universal health care,” said Legend. “Gladly pay more taxes if we can invest in the right things like renewable energy.”

Oh, but only if the government spend it on the "right" things. There's the rub, though, isn't it? It all comes down to what the "right" things are. Never mind, then.

Well, higher taxes are like redemption: they're available to anyone at anytime. All you have to do is choose to make it so.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lileks Makes the List

My favorite blog makes Time's 25 Best Blogs.

Treat yourself and go over to his place. You won't be disappointed.

Obama's War on Terror May Resemble Bush's

Of course it will:
Even as it pulls back from harsh interrogations and other sharply debated aspects of George W. Bush ’s “war on terrorism,” the Obama administration is quietly signaling continued support for other major elements of its predecessor’s approach to fighting Al Qaeda .

In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.I.A. ’s program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone.

The administration has also embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the “state secrets” doctrine. It has also left the door open to resuming military commission trials.

Things are quite different off the campaign trail. I suspect cold hard reality will dictate Obama's actions more than making promises to get elected. That's not a bad thing. I just hope the people who voted for Obama who really thought they'd get some serious change aren't too disappointed.

The Best Conservative Movies

National Review has 'em. I've seen about fifteen so I've got much to look forward to. Yeah, yeah, I know, the argument can be made these are good movies, period, never mind your ideology, and, as a matter of fact, I'd agree with you. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Here’s How You’ll Benefit From the Stimulus Package

Enough whining about the stimulus package. Here’s how you can benefit:
• If you have a child in college, you can get a tax credit of $2,500 if you pay at least $4,000 in expenses. The credit is good for four years of college. The White House estimates 53,000 Oklahoma families will be eligible.

• If you’re a first-time home buyer, you could get a credit of up to $8,000 for buying a house this year. You don’t have to pay the credit back, but you have to stay in the house for three years.

• If you buy a motor vehicle, you can deduct the state and local sales taxes on your 2009 return.

• If you’re collecting unemployment benefits, your weekly payment will increase by up to $25; the White House estimates this will help nearly 96,000 Oklahomans in 2009. Also, the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits received in 2009 won’t be subject to federal taxes. And if you can purchase health insurance from your former employer, the government will pay two-thirds of the cost.

• If you’re a married couple filing jointly and making less than $150,000 a year, you’ll get a tax credit of $800 per year for 2009 and 2010. Unlike the rebates of last year, the money won’t be sent to you in a check from the Internal Revenue Service. Rather, it will likely come in relatively small amounts in your paychecks after withholding tables are adjusted. According to the White House, workers and families are eligible for the credit.

Why the Stimulus Plan Won't Work: And several ideas that might

I'd queued this story up a few days ago but haven't had a chance to post it until now. The stimulus package has passed, so now it's so what? but here's some doomsaying that ought to be considered:
The theory of economic stimuli suffers from several serious problems. First, it assumes people are stupid. Tax rebates, for example, presume that if people get money to increase their consumption, businesses will expand their production and hire more workers. Not true. Even if producers notice an upward blip in sales after the rebate checks go out, they will know it's only temporary. Companies won't hire more employees or build new factories in response to a temporary increase in sales. Those who do will go out of business.

Second, the thinking behind stimulus legislation assumes that the government is better at spending $800 billion than the private sector. When President Obama says, "We'll invest in what works," he means, "unlike you bozos." The president's faith in Washington is charming, but politics rather than sound economics guide government spending. Politicians rely on lobbyists from unions, corporations, pressure groups, and state and local governments when they decide how to spend other people's money. By contrast, entrepreneurs' decisions to spend their own cash are guided by monetary profit and loss. That's likely to work better and certain to produce more innovation.

But the biggest problem is that the government can't inject money into the economy without first taking money out of the economy. Where does the government get that money? It can either borrow it or collect it from taxes. There is no aggregate increase in demand. Government borrowing and spending doesn't boost national income or standard of living; it merely redistributes it. The pie is sliced differently, but it's not any bigger.


The idea's that might work? Tax cuts. Corporate tax cuts, specifically, but no one wants to hear that.

Well, it's passed and signed into law. That's the political process. Let's give it a chance and see if it works.

Tax Stimulus Report Card: Gentleman's C

I'd give it less than that.

My beef? The proposed homebuyer's credit was gutted. The original proposal allowed a $15,000 credit for all homebuyer's that wasn't paid back. (The current law was a $7,500 credit for first time home buyer's, paid back over 10 years.) Now it's an $8,000 credit, back to first timers, but no payback time.

Well, I should be grateful. But Congress, and the President, missed an opportunity to radically transform the Tax Code. Live with it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

February Sunrise

No, I'm not starting a new series of posts with February in the title but that might not be a bad idea! I guess next up would be February Sunset. After that, the idea kind of sputters out.

I was driving Emily to school yesterday morning and the sunrise was lovely. Well, I had my cell phone camera with me, didn't I? I did, and here's what I got:






.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

All or Nothing at All

I'm not in the mood for any of my iTunes playlists or for shuffle mode so I'm working my way through my music by title, alphabetically. (I don't intend to work my way to the end for reasons I've discussed here.) Simple, no?

But I haven't gone far when I realized a great many songs start with the word "All:"

All About Soul Billy Joel
All Around The World Paul Simon
All I've Got To Do The Beatles
All I Want Joni Mitchell
All I Want Is You U2
All My Loving The Beatles (Two versions.)
All Around The World Electric Light Orchestra
All That Heaven Will Allow Bruce Springsteen
All That I'm Good For Hem (Two versions.)
All The Pretty Horses Hem
All The Road Running Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris
All This Time Sting
All Together Now The Beatles
All You Need Is Love The Beatles (Three versions!)
All You Want Dido

That's only fifteen tracks out of 2,000 but a quick scan of my other titles shows no other trend like this. And it seems like songwriters are pretty sure of themselves: it's either all or nothing at all, I have no songs titles beginning with the word "Some." (Okay, I have a few that begin with "Something" but that doesn't count.) Substitute the word "All" with "Some" and the titles above are very different.

Good writers know the importance of choosing the right word.

Wal-Mart Offers Free Tax Preparation Services

Nooooooooo!

I kid. This is actually a good thing:

The Wal-Mart Foundation yesterday announced a $3.6 million grant to provide free tax preparation services for taxpayers earning less than $56,000 per year through Mobile Tax Center vans which will be set up in various Wal-Mart parking lots for two to three weeks at a time between February 10 and April 11. Wal-Mart is partnering with the United Way and One Economy Corporation to offer this service. Visit see www.myfreetaxes.com for van locations.


Filing taxes should be easy, especially for people with lower incomes. Hiring a tax professional (ahem) insures you'll get the best prepared return but having your return prepared for free's not bad, either.

(Want to avoid the likely long lines at Wal-Mart? Drop your information off to our office and we'll have it back to you in a few days. No, we can't do it while you wait but then you wouldn't be waiting, you'd be getting on with your life.)

Via the good TaxProf.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Deadly Weather

We're fine but folks further south of us got hit bad:

With at least 15 confirmed dead after a massive tornado Tuesday evening, Carter County emergency officials were forced to suspend the search for survivors shortly after 1 a.m. until daylight Wednesday.

“It’s just too dangerous,” Sheriff Ken Grace said, referring to jagged metal and live wires hidden in rubble and debris. “We don’t need to be adding any more injuries to what we already have.”

Sheriff’s officials said this town of about 5,000 people was devastated when a tornado estimated to have been about a half-mile wide tore through the middle of Lone Grove, ripping buildings from their slabs, demolishing dozens of mobile homes and snapping any trees and power lines in its path.


The storms exploded around 2:30 - the day was clear and sunny and cool and then in over the span of 30 minutes, things turned dire.

The view from my office window:


Ominous. The panels of light in the sky are reflections from the lights in my office. Here's a more straight on shot without the reflections.


Things got more ominous before they got better:


The tornado sirens went off three times before finally giving up. By the time it was to head home, things were improving:


At home, we'd had only some rain and wind but the girls' color guard practice had been cancelled. Or, rather, Emily's had, but then Rachel's was back on when it became clear the weather had passed us by, for the most part.

Later in the evening, when the storms mentioned above came through, we had more rain and thunder and lightning and hail. The dogs were on the patio and were properly wigged out. Lucky couldn't stop shaking until the storm had passed.

Well, like I said, we're fine, so we'll pray for those people not so fortunate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February Moon

The moon was out, bright and clear, the other morning and there I was with my cell phone camera. What else to do but try to capture it, like the great Rick Lee?



Um, maybe if I zoomed in a bit?



Sigh.

Well, anyway. The moon looked nice. Wish you could've seen it.

BTW, here's how Rick captured the moon in his neck of the woods:



Yeah, I don't think he's using a cell phone camera, either.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Taken - Movie Review

Taken is a not-badly done thriller that fills up its two hours quite nicely, thank you very much. Liam Neeson plays a former CIA type out to rescue his daughter who was kidnapped while visiting friends in Paris. A possible nod to political correctness makes the bad guys Eastern European - who can argue with that? - but really, it doesn't matter since their role is mainly to be on the receiving end of the punishment Neeson doles out. The action sequences are well done though they suffer from the latest trend of extreme closeups and shaky camera work that makes it hard at times to tell exactly who's doing what to whom. The movie does what it sets out to do with a minimum of fuss and that's saying a lot.

Music on Vinyl

Clara's furniture was delivered the other day (No, no occasion for poetry this time.) and we're slowly stashing away things that were in the old entertainment unit. One of those things is a stack of our old LPs. (Hey! Weren't we talking about music on vinyl just the other day?) An interesting walk back through time. I thought the girls would be astonished at this old technology but, alas, somewhere at some time they've come across such thing and were unimpressed.

I seem to recall reading something about turning your cassette tapes into MP3 files and I'm sure there's some kind of program floating out there in the Internet ether that would allow me to do the same thing with LPs. (Er, that is if I could find our turntable. Seems we stored it so well that I can't find it anywhere.) But I'd bet it wouldn't be easy: I'd have to make an MP3 file for each track and then organize them by LP and, hey, what about cover art? So what would be the point, really? Surely most of this old stuff is available on iTunes. Certainly on CD somewhere. And whatever wasn't wouldn't be worth the effort, would it? Just so I can hear the snap, crackle and pop, the skip and jump, of vinyl?

Seems a shame, though, to not listen to them. Sure, we'll keep them around - we've lugged them with us this far and each one has its own memory.

(I know our stash of vinyl is probably minuscule compared to most but it astonishes me that there's so much music out there. Lileks opined about his recent possible UFO sighting that aliens visiting us would be asonished, too. The first they'd notice about Earth?
Music. So much music, pouring out of this green globe without effort. They couldn’t stay away.

I think he's right.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

1,000th Visitor

Whoops! I overlooked this milestone from a few days ago: I had my 1000th visitor. A belated welcome to whoever you were, visiting all the way from Burnaby, British Columbia on February 2nd, 2009 at 12:03 PM. Here's what brought you by, which is on my mirror site over at Wordpress. (Check that one out and let me know if you prefer that site over this one on Blogger.) You didn't stay long and only looked at one page but I hope you liked what you saw. Come back, anytime.

And thanks to all my other visitors out there, too. I hope you've been finding something to keep you coming back.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why Was Geithner Treated So Much Better Than IRS Employees?

All right, one more post about taxes and politics and then we're moving on.

As a former IRS employee, and as someone who's married to a current IRS employee, the question of why Geithner was treated so much better than any IRS employee was the first thing we thought of. Finally, someone else has asked the question:
Timothy Geithner is one lucky man ... because when he cheated the government on his payroll taxes, he wasn't working for the IRS.

Had Geithner been working at the IRS, here is what he could have expected for being suspected of shorting the government tens of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes: He might have been rousted from bed before dawn in a commotion that terrified his children and embarrassed his wife when it awoke the neighbors. He would have been treated like a scheming criminal and, while not subjected to what the Bush administration euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation techniques," he would have been scared enough to suffer a stroke or heart attack, like some of those grilled by the agents from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. ...

Any suggestion by Geithner that it was just a mistake, that the law is too complicated, or that the software made him do it would have drawn derisive laughter and worse, based on what IRS clerks whom TIGTA went after have told me and have testified about in proceedings aimed at saving their jobs.

The simple answer is that Geithner wasn't, and won't be, an employee of the IRS. But then that begs the question: why are IRS employees deprived of certain rights that others enjoy?

Maybe if Geithner is confirmed that'll be a good thing. IRS employees may finally enjoy some sense of equal protection under the law.

Liberal Tax Protesting

I'm getting a little tire of these tax/politics postings, aren't you? Hang with me, only a couple more to go, and then we'll move on to other things. I hope.


Victor David Hanson has a point to make about what it means for Daschle and Geithner to pay their taxes only when it's clear they may get caught:

Millions of Americans don't have either Daschle's or Geithner's resources, yet they pay dearly to go to accountants, honestly turn over all their records, and then pay the full amount of taxation in accordance with their understanding of the law, and the advice they receive from professional accountants.

Yet men both much richer and much more informed about the U.S. tax code not only don't do that, but feel no compunction to rectify mistakes unless they cause embarrassment enough to thwart their careers. Two subtexts as well: there must be many more Daschles and Geithners floating around Washington who don't show up on the radar unless they want a top political appointment; and, two, the old liberal creed that taxes are good and patriotic and are avoided by greedy, selfish conservative elites seems shattered by these examples.

Any more of these stories and we will be on very dangerous ground, since the message is a terrible one to the American people: You pay your full amount, but our elites not only do not, but won't unless they get caught.

This is all about as good an argument for a flat tax as one can imagine.


But the flat tax will never happen, as long as the Tax Code it's a source of power for the governing elites. Unfortunately, that means job security for me.

Daschle's Tax Problem

The matter's now resolved with Daschle taking himself out of the nomination but the question remains: How did he realize he had a tax problem. Byron York takes a look:
Skeptics have suggested that Daschle recognized the problem in June 2008 because it was in that month that Barack Obama claimed the Democratic nomination. At that point, Daschle, a big Obama supporter, knew it was at least possible that he might get a big job in an Obama administration; therefore, he knew he had to get his financial affairs in order. On the other hand, there’s been the suggestion from some sympathetic to Daschle that he might have come to the realization after a casual conversation with some unnamed person, perhaps at a party.

Now, members of the Senate Finance Committee have had a chance to pose the question to Daschle himself. And the answer is: He doesn’t know.


The most surprising fact about the whole affair? Daschle had been audited by the IRS and they'd overlooked the matter entirely. That fault's not necessarily that of the IRS. You can be sure if the matter had come up, they would have assessed the additional tax then and there. So either Daschle willfully mislead the IRS or he's guilty by the sin of omission.

Either way, somehow the Republic will get along without his services.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Emily Joins The Junior Honor Society

The induction ceremony was postponed from last week because of the ice storm so that meant rather than getting to use the luxurious digs of the Moore-Norman Vo Tech Pennsylvania Avenue Campus we had to crowd into the gym at Brink Junior High. Fortunately we got there early - Clara, Rachel, me, Grandma and Grandpa - because it was SRO before long.



Emily tried to pooh-pooh the whole thing off, saying it was no big deal, that there was only she and 150 others who were joining:



She was wrong: there were 165.

I handled the video chores and since we're using a Sony and Sony's program is proprietary, I can't upload anything. (That and the fact I, um, lost the disc with the software that might've allowed for converting the Sony video to an uploadable form.) Clara handled the still camera and managed to squeeze off a shot of Emily headed towards her seat:


The speeches began and everyone listened like the good citizens they are. I used my Blackberry to get Emily hanging on every word:



See? Emily's about fifth in from the far end, second to the last row, near the balloons. No? Let me try to zoom in closer:


Ah. There. Between the zoom and some Picasa photo-shopping, I did a not bad job, ya think?

Finally, finally, they called Emily's name, and she got her certificate and signed in and it was official. Clara accidentally switched the still camera to video - I have no problem uploading video from the still camera, if that makes sense - so we have a 2 second clip of Emily returning to her seat:

video

Afterwards, there was time for mingling and cake and punch. Emily posed for an official photograph:



Bustin' proud? You bet. Emily's the only one of Grandma and Grandpa's grandchildren to make it in. She worked hard for the honor and I'm glad to see it paid off. I think she was, too.

I'm Number 4!

Look who's number 4 on a Google search for saratoga springs disney pictures.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Obama Dozed, People Froze

Victoria over at Sundries spares Obama little in her take-downof his handling of the ice storm in Kentucky - hundreds of thousands are without power and, nationwide, 55 deaths have been blamed on the storm.

Of course, the media's coverage is largely favorable but there's no point in complaining. It's no secret that Obama can do no wrong and, in this case, I'd defend his actions as I would've Bush's in the Katrina disaster: a President, and his government, can only do so much in the face of a natural disaster and there are always going to be people who think something more could've been done.

The ice storm was a bad thing but bad things happen and the government can't do it all. It's too bad the media wasn't as generous with Bush as they have been, so far, with Obama.

Warrant Issued for 'Girls Gone Wild' Founder Joe Francis' Arrest

Wasn't Joe Francis, the skeezy founder of Girls Gone Wild, complaining just the other day about his tax attorney? Why, yes he was! Stupid tax attorneys. If it wasn't for them. . .

So, how're things working out for Mr. Francis now that he's tax-attorney-free? Uh, not so well:

A federal judge in California has issued an arrest warrant for Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis because he failed to appear at a hearing in his tax evasion case.

U.S. attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek said U.S. District Judge S. James Otero issued the warrant Monday in Los Angeles.

Some obvious tax advice: don't miss your court hearings. It only makes judges mad when you do.

OKCBiz Wins Society of Professional Journalists’ Award

Congratulations to OKCBiz winning some big time journalistic type awards. (Articles like this
one no doubt helped clinch the deal. Photographer Mark Hancock, who took the stunning picture that accompanies the print article but not the online article, also won big, probably because of that very same photo.)

The Daily Oklahoman won, too, but, unfortunately, my good friend Paul Burkes was overlooked. The link takes you to a list of her articles so you can see for yourself the injustice in all this.

Monday, February 2, 2009

iTunes Genius Playlists

I switched on the iTunes genius feature and had the program put together a playlist based on Hem's Half Acre. Here's what it came up with:

1. Hem Half Acre
2. Gary Jules Falling Awake
3. Brandi Carlile Turpentine
4. Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris This is Us
5. Ben Folds Landed
6. Jackson Browne These Days
7. Annie Lennox Dark Road
8. Dido Don't Leave Home
9. Barenaked Ladies Call and Answer
10. Hem Radiation Vibe
11. Bruce Springsteen One Step Up
12. Joni Mitchell Free Man In Paris
13. Phish Farmhouse
14. Dave Matthews Band Grace Is Gone
15. Wilco I'm The Man Who Loves You
16. Paul Simon The Obvious Child
17. Shawn Colvin I Don't Know Why
18. Steve Winwood The Finer Things
19. Hem Betting On Trains
20. Ben Folds Late
21. Jeff Buckley Lover, You Should Have Come Over
22. Joni Mitchell River
23. Dido Sand In My Shoes
24. Rogue Wave Lake Michigan
25. Cat Power Wild Is the Wind

Other than magic, I have no idea how the program works, but it puts together a fine playlist, finer than I can go on my own.

Just for fun, I had the program put another list together, starting with Laura Veirs' Pink Light. Here's what it came up with:

1. Laur Veirs Pink Light
2. Sonic Youth Reena
3. Hem All That I'm Good For
4. The Decemberists The Gymnast High Above The Ground
5. Cat Power Wild Is The Wind
6. Beck Ramshackle
7. Billy Bragg Must I Paint You a Picture?
8. The White Stripes Little Ghost
9. Rogue Wave Lake Michigan
10. Dave Matthews Band Captain
11. The Band This Wheel's On Fire
12. Sonic Youth Jams Run Free
13. Bonnie Raitt One Belief Away
14. Jeff Buckley Lover You Should Have Come Over
15. Phish Gotta Jibboo
16. Santana Do You Like The Way
17. Joni Mitchell Down To You
18. Jackson Browne For Everyman
19. Jack Johnson F-Stop Blues
20. The Decemberists The Bachelor and The Bride
21. Shawn Colvin I Don't Know Why
22. Hem Leave Me Here
23. Noisettes Scratch Your Name
24. Wilco Radio Cure
25. Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris Rollin' On

Different starting points with some intersections and similar themes yet distinctly different tones. Wonderful.

Rachel's OYO Rehearsal

I'm at the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University waiting on Rachel while she rehearses with the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra. A nice artsy vibe going on, with all the music students - both instrumental and vocal - coming and going to their rehearsals. They're all so serious! And talented! They're practically incandescent with talent.

The link takes you to the the School's webpage, of course. Here's a look at the outside of the building:



(It only looks like the video will play though I guess I could've embedded it if I'd wanted. But that's not what I wanted: all I want is a picture of the outside and that's the best I can do, without getting up from my seat.)

Here's what it looks like, live, as it were, from the inside, and from where I'm sitting:

\\



I'm not allowed into the rehearsal hall, of course. That would be too lame. I can wait, though. Their concert's in a few weeks and it's bound to be great. It always is. Especially the flutes.

Will Beatles' Tunes Ever Make It Online?

Doesn't sound like it:
It’s impossible to say, since no one involved will make a definitive statement on the topic. The Beatles’ business entity, Apple Corps, has to agree to anything done by EMI, which owns the group’s recordings. And the two sides have yet to cut a deal. In the interim, every once in a while there is a rumor that the Beatles’ catalog is finally set to arrive online, sometimes with special extras, such as a “Yellow Submarine” iPod. Neither EMI, Apple Corps or iTunes would comment.

My feelings about this are mixed. I already own all of the digital Beatles' catalog so what do I care? And if I were missing anything, it's not that hard to fill in the missing pieces; Beatles' music is available just about anywhere. So really, there's no need to put their music on iTunes, is there?

Money's certainly not a reason, though money's always nice, isn't it? (To quote David Mamet, that's why they call it money.) No, I hold with those who say if you're going to make music and put it out there for consumption, you have to put it out there online and if you put it out there online, the only place to put it is on iTunes. Oh, sure, there are lots of places to purchase digital music online; at best, those places are only pale imitations of the iTunes model. The Beatles, once cutting edge in the music industry, risk turning into dinosaurs. If they fail to make their music available online, it'd be the same as if they only made their music available on vinyl.

' puter troubles

I'd tried to create a home wireless network and connect the Emily's laptop and mine with the desktop. Alas, my mad tech skillz were lacking and I only managed to futz up the Internet connections on the laptops. I was able to finally restore the settings as they were and save the day but it burned up lots of 'puter time.

Thus, the reason for the light blogging over the last couple of days.

The 100 Greatest Romantic Albums of All Time

Of course, this is only one person's opinion, but I'm glad to see that numbers 14, 19, and 23 are on my iPod. After that, things fall apart fairly quickly.

Like all lists, it's not definitive, and yours will differ. But why quibble?