Everyone Loves A Charade
So I went to a parade the other day. I was curious to re-experience the phenomenon since it had been quite some time. The last time I saw a parade was from within as a member of the high school’s marching band playing my trombone.
Yeah, it’s really been that long. I avoid public events religiously. I recently lived ten years in a small town. During that time I successfully avoided all the parades, county fairs, classic car shows and even the yearly carnivals festively known to the locals as “dirt bowls.” I’m a hardcore avoider and parade dodger.
The parade started with the police and fire departments showing off their rides. Meh. I grudgingly gave them a pass since this is apparently the traditional way to start a parade. I fleetingly wondered how much it was costing me.
Then came some beauty queens riding in the back of convertibles. Meh. Mildy amoosing.
This was followed by the “citizen of the year” aka a person I don’t know in car.
At last, the grand marshal. A person in a car. I was starting to swoon from … too … much … excitement. Suddenly I realized I could have been back at home watching Star Trek: The Animated Series on Netflix.
In case you missed it, the theme of the parade was “Undying Love For The Internal Combustion Engine.”
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Up the Hatch
How important is it to pay your taxes? Pretty important, I’d say. Especially when failure to comply can result in more time in jail than if you shot two people in the head and killed them in cold blood.
Richard Hatch, the original winner of the TV series Survivor is back in trouble for his taxes. He turned himself in to authorities on Monday and will begin serving a nine-month sentence for violating the terms of his probation for tax evasion.
Hatch previously served a three year sentence for tax evasion. He was ordered to pay taxes on show winnings and other income but has not completed refiling of his 2000 and 2001 tax returns.
I didn’t know this, but Hatch was currently a contestant on Donald Trump’s reality show The Apprentice.
The Donald has said he would consider helping Hatch pay his debt.
“It sounds like a very tough predicament,” Donald Trump tells PEOPLE. “I may ask him if there’s anything I can do … I may get involved and ask him what the hell is going on.”
On the current season of Apprentice, Hatch quickly made enemies of Jose Canseco and David Cassidy, who accused the reality star of shoving him. Cassidy was ultimately fired.”He wasn’t loved on set because it’s a competition but I will say he was respected,” Trump said, adding that helping Hatch pay his debt is “something I’d think about. He’s been a great character on the show.” Source.
The judge surprised even the prosecutors by adding an additional three months to Hatch’s sentence beyond the six month maximum per federal sentencing guidelines.
The IRS says Hatch owes $2 million.
Hatch will now have to pay a staggering $2 million to the IRS.
The debt includes not only his Survivor winnings, but further income he has made since appearing on the show and penalties for his evasion. Source.
Times are apparently hard for Hatch, who told the court that he’s only made about $27,000 since his release from prison in October 2009, which would put him even below my scrawny income. Hatch has been looking for work though, claiming he pursued employment in “marketing” to working on a fishing boat.
Personally, I think the judge should have been a bit more lenient. It’s not like Hatch plugged two people full of lead. If that was all he done he would have already been off probation by now.
A crash and a mob
I turned on my computer this morning and the top news item on my home page was about a horrible crash that killed 8 people and hurt 12 more.
A witness said the crash scattered “bodies everywhere.” After the vehicle went airborne it landed on spectators. Bystanders rushed in to help those pinned by the vehicle.
The race is called the California 200 and takes place near Bessemer Mine Road at Soggy Dry Lake in Lucerne Valley, CA. The course length is 50 miles.
The driver, who as far as I can tell hasn’t been identified yet, lost control of his vehicle and reportedly went airborne before going off the course and rolling over spectators who were located approx. 10 feet from the course. There was reportedly no safety barrier.
According to the Associated Press, “[a witness] said that the driver, who wasn’t named, was forced to run from the scene when the crowd grew unruly and some began throwing rocks at him. It was not clear why he lost control of the truck.”
I haven’t been able to find the name of the driver in news reports. However, a photograph in the LA Times clearly shows the wording “Misery Motorsports” on the upside-down vehicle. I did some checking and found a MySpace page for Misery Motorsports that contains the name “Brett Sloppy,” who is listed as a 28-year-old male. A Bretty Sloppy was a registered race participant in the “1500 Class” per the MDR Racing web site.
Note: I’m not claiming to know the name of the driver. This is just some information that I found.
The main reason I take an interest in this horrible story is the human behavior that took place after the crash. As far as I can tell there is no indication this was anything other than a very unfortunate accident. Yet some in the crowd apparently were angry and something like a mob mentality set in. I wasn’t there, but it seems as if while some persons were in need of urgent medical attention, others were directing their energies against the driver by throwing rocks.
I also don’t understand our obsessive adoration for vehicle races powered by the internal combustion engine. In our society there is little worshiped more than the all-powerful internal combustion engine. Perhaps it even outranks television and cell phones. As far as “sports” go I’ve never understood the attraction of watching internal combustion engines go round and round in circles, but hey, that’s just me.
Since I’ve never attended an internal combustion engine “sporting” festival, I don’t understand things like: Why do spectators have to be so close to observe the event? It seems to me that it would be wise to calculate the “danger area” where accidents could conceivably happen and keep observers out of that area. I can’t see a valid reason to have spectators in that danger area. Perhaps it is the thrill of danger? If so, the seeking of danger does not magically eliminate the actual risk.
Thinking about it, I can recall incidents where vehicles (like cars and boats) have flown off race courses and injured people before.
It all seems pretty crazy to me.
UPDATE: This text was recently posted on Brett Sloppy’s Facebook page. “Soo incredibly lost and devistated my thoughts and prayers go out to all the familys and friends involved.. Thank you too all my friends for sticking with me even thru these tragic times I love you all.”
A very taxing situation
For the last three years, my wife and I have come up short on our taxes. The amount withheld from our paychecks has been insufficient to cover what we owed.
This post may come as a shock to some of you, but the gist is this: The current withholding system is not necessarily designed to collect what you will owe.
Every year it’s the same deal. Get the taxes done and then be subjected to intense sticker shock as we realize we’re fucked. We don’t mind being good Americans and paying our fair share but this is ridiculous.
Each time this happens we immediately fill out new W-4 forms based on the recommendation of our tax preparer and submit them to our employers.
I have no doubt that I’m going to be forced to cough up more dough for 2009. With that in mind, I decided to finally take some action and figure out just what in the hell is going on.
In my grubby little hands I’m holding my first paystub of this infant year. Everything that happened this pay period exactly matches my year-to-date totals. What an exciting time. I very carefully scrutinized the amount withheld for federal withholding. It seems small. Damn small.
I went to the internet and found this page. The “2010 Withholding Calculator” on the official IRS website. I went through their five-page process and got a “page not found” error as the result. Typical.
I was determined, though, and not to be deterred so easily. I tried it again. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Guilty as charged! The insanity, however, is that on the second attempt it worked. Holy … fuck … shit.
Anyway, this story is not about the IRS’ ability to maintain a working web site.
The IRS web site had excellent advice for us. “You and your spouse should each enter 0 on line 5 of all of your Forms W-4.” No shit, Sherlock!
But wait, there’s more. Here’s the good part (my emphasis added):
Divide $X by the number of paydays remaining in 2010 (or use the table below to find this amount), and enter the result on line 6 of any one of your Forms W-4. This is the extra amount you need to have withheld each payday to ensure that you do not have too little withheld. Alternatively, you may split the $X between any of your jobs, by entering on line 6 of each Form W-4 the portion of this amount to be withheld from that job, divided by the number of paydays remaining in 2010 for that job.
There you have it, in writing, from the horse’s mouth. Claiming zero exemptions is not enough. You have to withhold additional amounts or you’ll be fucked. I must be an idiot, because I thought that was exactly what the fucking system was designed to do. When the hell did that fucking change?
You have all been warned. Save extra coins for the King or you’ll receive an unpleasant visit from the tax collector. You can thank me later.