Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Why Hasn’t Somebody Made Sunday Reading an Internet Tradition?

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Less than 24 hours after last night’s Powerball drawing, reports confirmed that the two winners of the $587 million jackpot are both already divorced from their respective spouses, alienated from their friends and families, and completely bankrupt.

* Calvin and Hobbes search engine. Get it before it’s DCMA’d!

* Vandana Singh interviews Ted Chiang.

Finally, can you tell us something about what you’re working on now?

I don’t want to talk too much about what I’m working on, so I’ll just say that it’s a story about memory and the written word.

Sold!

* Kurt Vonnegut’s term paper prompt.

As for your term papers, I should like them to be both cynical and religious. I want you to adore the Universe, to be easily delighted, but to be prompt as well with impatience with those artists who offend your own deep notions of what the Universe is or should be. “This above all …”

* Another round of analysis from Yves Smith on the Rolling Jubilee tax issue.

If Rolling Jubilee’s tax position is incorrect, the consequences would be ugly. In many cases, the people it claimed it was helping would be worse off than if it had done nothing.

The forgiven debt would be treated as taxable income. If the individual is a non-taxpayer (as in has too little income) the debt forgiveness could push them into owning taxes, and for anyone who was a taxpayer in the year the debt was forgiven, would result in additional taxes owed.

The worst of this is that in many cases, the debt forgiven by OWS would be invalid debt: past the statute of limitations, discharged in bankruptcy, disputed, paid off but for some reason not removed from a bank’s systems. In these cases, if Rolling Jubilee’s tax view turns out to be incorrect, the borrower will be considerably worse off, since he could have disputed the invalid debt (and debt collectors tend to roll easily) but will now have to disprove the validity of the debt to the IRS. The result is that this shifts the burden of proof: in debt collection matters, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, the debt collector, to demonstrate the validity of the debt and the amount owed. In disputes with the IRS, the burden of proof is with the taxpayer.

In addition, even if Strike Debt is correct in its gift argument, it would in some cases owe gift taxes. It does not appear prepared for this eventuality. Nor would winning on the gift question save it from running afoul of the private benefit question. Even a gift to an individual is a private benefit. If it were to lose its 501 (c)(4) status, Rolling Jubilee would owe additional taxes and penalties.

Rejected jokes submitted to a kids’ jokes site.

* The Inside Story of Pong.

* The Video Games Women Make.

Thomas Jefferson: American Fascist? The third president was a creepy, brutal hypocrite. And the very worst thing you’ll read today:

Jefferson, Finkelman tells us, was not a “particularly kind” slave-master; he sometimes “punished slaves by selling them away from their families and friends, a retaliation that was incomprehensibly cruel even at the time.” And he  believed that  ”blacks’ ability to reason was ‘much inferior’ to whites’ and that they were “in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.”  So what?  Really – so what?  If you want to think that he was a bad guy — or even a really bad guy, with truly grievous personal faults — you’re free to do so.  But to claim that that has something to do with Jefferson’s historical legacy is truly preposterous.

A growing if largely invisible community hard-hit by Sandy faces a unique challenge: Undocumented immigrants must get help to fix illegal apartments.

Chinua Achebe At 82.

The Sports Tax That Everyone Pays.

* People on the Internet are going to have to start self-diagnosing themselves with something else: Asperger’s Dropped As Separate Condition From DSM-V.

And the mint is considering eliminating $1 bills entirely. Yes, again!

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