The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


May 31, 2006


24,000 Pages?!

That was the length of General Electric’s 2005 tax return. You heard me correctly, 24,000 pages. Astounding…

From the IRS Web Site

The Internal Revenue Service today announced significant progress in its corporate e-file program, including the successful May 18, 2006 e-filing of the nation’s largest tax return from General Electric (GE).

On paper, GE’s e-filed return would have been approximately 24,000 pages long. After filing, GE received IRS’ acknowledgement of its filing in about an hour. The file was 237 megabytes.

“Having GE file electronically shows the program is working,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “Having the largest tax return is a major milestone for the corporate e-file program. I appreciate GE’s work to get this done.”

Yeah, it saved a lot of paper. That’s probably not reflected in the paychecks GE paid their team of tax attorneys to prepare the return, or the boatloads of money the Treasury will have to print (or “loan”) to pay the salaries of all the federal employees who will have to look this one over. My tax return took an afternoon to complete. How man man-years did this take?

It’s got to stop. It’s time for the FairTax.

Hat Tip: The Wrightwing

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:24 pm || Permalink || Comments (1) || Trackback URL || Categories: News, Taxes



The Adrenaline Junkie Returns


What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com

No surprise here…

Hat Tip: AnarchAngel

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 8:43 am || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: Personal Life


May 30, 2006


Quick-Hit Snarkiness

Radio station bans James Blunt songs

A radio station said it has banned songs by James Blunt from its airwaves after listeners said they were fed up with hearing “You’re Beautiful” and “Goodbye My Lover”.

Chris Cotton, programme controller of local radio Essex FM in southern England, said: “We don’t have anything against James Blunt and we’re pleased he has been so successful, but we really need a break.”

Don’t stop there! I’ve got a list:

Daniel Powter: Bad Day
Kelly Clarkson: Walk Away
Natasha Bedingfield: Unwritten
Pussycat Dolls: Stickwitu

That’s a good start. And although I really like that KT Tunstall song, Black Horse, if I hear it for more than three more days, I’m going postal…

————————————————–

Study: global warming boosts poison ivy

Another reason to worry about global warming: more and itchier poison ivy. The noxious vine grows faster and bigger as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, researchers report Monday.

And a CO2-driven vine also produces more of its rash-causing chemical, urushiol, conclude experiments conducted in a forest at Duke University where scientists increased carbon-dioxide levels to those expected in 2050.

Observation 1: (Poison Ivy), like all plants, needs (Carbon Dioxide) to grow
Observation 2: If there is more (Carbon Dioxide), (Poison Ivy) will grow faster

Replace “Poison Ivy” with “Brad”, and “Carbon Dioxide” with “Wendy’s Hamburgers”, and you might get an explanation for why I’ve been growing extremely quickly too!

————————————————–

Woman Hit By Lightning While Praying

Worried about the safety of her family during a stormy Memorial Day trip to the beach, Clara Jean Brown stood in her kitchen and prayed for their safe return as a strong thunderstorm rumbled through Baldwin County, Alabama.

But while she prayed, lightning suddenly exploded, blowing through the linoleum and leaving a blackened area on the concrete. Brown wound up on the floor, dazed and disoriented by the blast but otherwise uninjured.

She said ‘Amen’ and the room was engulfed in a huge ball of fire. The 65-year-old Brown said she is blessed to be alive.

Wikipedia: Irony of Fate

————————————————–

Naked on Everest: a peek on the peak?

The head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association urged the government Saturday to take action against a sherpa who reportedly stripped on top of Mount Everest.

The Himalayan Times had reported Friday that the Nepali climbing guide, whose name it gave as Lakpa Tharke, stood naked for three minutes in freezing conditions on the 29,035-foot summit of the world’s highest peak.

If confirmed, he would be the first person known to have stripped atop Everest, considered by Nepali Buddhists as a god.

All he needed was a woman around, and he could have joined the 5.5 mile high club!

“We are planning to file his extraordinary feat for the Guinness Book of World Records,” the paper quoted an official of the hiking group that employs Tharke as saying.

Uhh, a “feat” would be if he climbed it naked, NOT climbing it and then getting naked for 3 minutes. As it is, it’s funny. Trying to put it in the Guinness book is just showboating.

————————————————–

Dan Aykroyd takes UFOs out for a spin

Dan Aykroyd has a new video on the market, but the ex-conehead and one-time ghost-buster says he’s not the star. The UFOs are.

And where does Aykroyd get his credibility? Personal experience, of course!

Aykroyd said he has had two personal encounters with the unknown.

One occurred on Martha’s Vineyard, he said, where he sighted “high altitude, glowing magnesium discs travelling at 20,000 miles (32,190 km) an hour at 100,000 feet (30,480 metres). … wing to wing, edge to edge.”

Four people with him saw the same thing, he said, and while one expert later told him it was probably a meteor formation of some sort “I believe they were visiting the earth, passing by on the way to somewhere else.”

“The second was a telepathic experience,” he said, which happened at a lake retreat in Canada.

“I was asleep with my wife and I woke up about 3 a.m. wanting to go outside into a field and look at the sky,” he said, telling his wife, “They want me to see. They want me to see.” She told him to forget it.

The next morning, he said, newspapers and radio reports from across the region were filled with eyewitness accounts from some of the estimated 12,000 people who saw a pink spiral in the sky.

The military later said it was a Chinese rocket, Aykroyd said, but he believes he was being summoned and regrets ignoring the call.

Ahh, who was it was summoning him? Dionne Warwick? And how could you tell from 100,000 feet away that those discs were made of magnesium, or that they were at an altitude of 100,000 ft, or that they were traveling 20,000 mph?

Why couldn’t Aykroyd stick to moonbat politics, like the rest of the hollywood types? Making fun of him for this leaves me with a small pang of guilt, as he doesn’t realize I’m laughing at him, not with him.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 5:02 pm || Permalink || Comments (4) || Trackback URL || Categories: News, Snark



Messed With the Wrong Marine…

Something tells me this is how Col Jessup from A Few Good Men would have handled the situation…

Former Marine kills would-be robber
3 men, one woman attack waiter walking in Midtown

A pack of would-be robbers including, a pregnant 17-year-old, figured a Midtown waiter walking to his girlfriend’s house Monday night would be an easy mark, according to police.

But, in Thomas Autry, 36, the bandits picked the wrong victim, said Atlanta police homicide Detective Danny Stephens. The former Marine, cornered by his pursuers on Penn Avenue at 4th Street, fought back with a pocket knife in a deadly melee that left the young woman dead and a man in his late teens seriously injured at a hospital.

Stephens said Autry had left his job at the Jocks & Jills restaurant in Midtown and was walking along Penn Avenue when a blue Cadillac pulled alongside and three men, one armed with a shotgun, and the woman jumped from the car.

Grabbing the knife from his backpack, Autry managed to kick the shotgun from the man’s hands and stabbed the woman in the chest, fatally wounding her. Stephens said. In the melee, Autry also stabbed one of the male suspects. Another suspect attempted to shoot Autry with a .380 pistol, which misfired, Stephens said.

He brought a knife to a gunfight… And won!

While I don’t envy the emotional trauma Autry’s going to have to go through as a result of this ordeal, he can rest with the knowledge that these “kids” got what they deserved.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 1:43 pm || Permalink || Comments (3) || Trackback URL || Categories: News



Carnival of Liberty XLVII

Sorry for not posting much. Over the weekend, I was working on the laptop, and the dogs decided to start fighting each other. I put the laptop on the arm of my chair to go after the dogs, and as soon as I got up, it fell and destroyed my wireless card.

Luckily, I was able to get this post, over at The Liberty Papers, done and posted before my clumsiness got the better of me. It looks back at history, asking whether politics today are any more nasty than the politics of the past. Check it out.

That post was included in the Carnival of Liberty #47, up today at the New World Man. I haven’t had a chance to go through and read everything over there yet (it’s a busy day), but I highly suggest you do so. He’s got an Indy 500 theme, to the extent that he even referenced the Purdue Marching Band with my post. I’m glad it wasn’t Notre Dame, or I’d have had to beat him senseless with a shillelagh. And, of course, with the Indy 500 theme, there are pictures of Danica Patrick throughout the post, so I really suggest you head over and visit!

In other news, I introduced my neighbor to homebrewing yesterday, as he brewed a basic IPA, and I brewed my Stone Ruination IPA Clone. He hasn’t even had a taste yet, but I think he’s hooked on this hobby!

mmm... beer

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 9:58 am || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: Around The 'Sphere, Beer, Carnivals, Uncategorized


May 27, 2006


Started Testing IE7

Click Picture for Larger Image

Ever one to look to maximize my browsing experience, I recently downloaded Internet Explorer 7 Beta. I’ve become a dedicated Firefox user, but I’m willing to keep an open mind as to whether the 800-lb gorilla can keep up.

Unfortunately, early testing isn’t very promising. I see some good signs, and see some bad signs as well.

The Good:

First, they finally have tabbed browsing. Frankly, this is one of the premier user-interface complaints about IE6. If you’re not familiar with tabbed browsing, you need to be! It’s a whole new way to access the web, and Microsoft has finally jumped on the bandwagon.

Second, they finally have add-ons. Called “Extensions” in Firefox, they are external applications that users can install to change their browser experience. In Firefox, I use several extensions, as I prefer to customize the browser to be exactly how I like to browse. IE7 beta is new, so there are currently not many add-ons available, but this could be a big plus. Firefox without extensions would be only slightly more competitive than IE, it’s the work of all the extra developers to create these add-ons that make it so versatile.

Third, it appears that they’re doing better to meet agreed-upon web standards in the browser. This is just an early look, though, but this blog used to appear differently in Firefox and IE6. In IE7, they’re much closer to being identical. There still may be some back-end things that are different (I’ll leave that determination to people who know more about the standards), but it is looking better from a user perspective.

The Bad:

First, I mentioned that they have add-ons. At the moment, those add-ons are mostly created by outside companies, and they’re mostly not free. Some of these add-ons are as expensive as $50 or so, for the same thing you can get free in Firefox. As I said above, this may change, but from Microsoft’s previous behavior, I don’t think they’ll offer the same sort of open-source access to individual developers that has made Firefox so great.

Second, the interface is klugey… This could just be a beta thing, but I don’t particularly like it. And at the moment, I don’t see much in the way of “skins” to modify it. Or, it could be that I’ve only played with it for a short time, so there may be some features that I haven’t gotten into yet. But out of the box, it’s quite a bit different than IE6, and not necessarily in a good way. They do say that one of the goals was to create as much browser space as possible, which they’ve done, but again, what they have is no better (and quite a bit worse) than Firefox.

Third, there are no real innovations that I can see here. At this point, it seems like Microsoft is simply following others, and not really doing a great job of it. Of course, that’s been their business strategy for years, so it may be enough to maintain their market position, but it’s certainly not enough to make me switch back. It’s a temporary stop to the bleeding, not a cure.

My conclusion:

Microsoft, in my opinion, was hemorrhaging users to their competition over the last few years. Mozilla is a much stronger product, and has met the unmet needs of users. IE7 will help Microsoft quite a bit to stem the flow. But they haven’t completely caught up. The product, at least in its current form, is still not as good as what Firefox provides, and without high-quality free add-ons, it’s not likely to get much better. The improvements to the product will cut down on the rate at which people leave Microsoft, but I don’t think it’s going to stop it, or help them to win many users back.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 12:12 pm || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: Internet, Technology


May 25, 2006


New CafePress Design

Assassins
Up at Unrepentant Merchandise.

Yep. Considering that nobody has decided to become poker or casino players, or have filled my pockets with royalties from the wonderful advertising affiliates I have on the sidebar, I actually have to start offering real products.

So here’s my second attempt, after the Stuck on Stupid products that netted me $12. If you think it’s cool, buy one. If you don’t want to buy one, but still think it’s cool, pass the link along. Ya know, help a brotha out!

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:18 pm || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: Blog News



Looks like a Success!

Well, I didn’t quite make it to the FairTax rally last night… Had I thought that there would be an attendance problem, I definitely would have headed over, but early in the day I realized the whole place would be mobbed…

Local news had this to say:

AJC: Rally for national sales tax draws overflow crowd

It wasn’t exactly the Boston Tea Party but this modern mob must have made a lot more noise.

About 4,500 raucous tax protesters packed the Gwinnett Convention Center on Wednesday night to hear politicians, musicians and talk show celebrities call for the end of the federal income tax and the creation of a 23 percent national sales tax to replace it.

The size of the “Fair Tax Rally” crowd was so large that event organizers, prodded by a fire marshal, turned away roughly 2,000 rallygoers. Many gathered in the parking lot to listen to the event on radio.

6,500 people for a rally on TAXES. A NYT #1 Best-Selling book about TAXES.

Gwinnett Daily Post: FairTax rally jams Civic Center

U.S. Rep. John Linder has said for years that only a groundswell among the American people will convince Congress to scrap the Internal Revenue Service and replace it with a national sales tax.

Wednesday night’s rally at a jammed Gwinnett Convention Center in support of Linder’s FairTax bill looked a lot like the popular uprising the Duluth Republican has envisioned since he introduced what has become his signature legislation in 1999.

“The grass roots are working,” said Joseph Gullett of Norcross, motioning to more than 100 people gathered outside the convention center listening to a radio broadcast of the rally because they couldn’t get into the packed building.

“It’s nice to see all these people with the same ideas,” added Richard Trenchik, who drove all the way from Warner Robins only to be turned back from the center after it had reached its capacity of 4,500 people.

And a little video from the local CBS news

And from the national media?

.
.
.

[crickets chirping]

Maybe Boortz is just going to have to take this show back out on the road.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 4:38 pm || Permalink || Comments (6) || Trackback URL || Categories: News, Snark, Taxes



Good News— But How Good?

Economy dashes ahead at 5.3 percent pace

Emerging from a year-end rut, the economy dashed ahead in the opening quarter of this year at a 5.3 percent pace, the fastest in 2 1/2 years and even stronger than previously thought.

The new snapshot showed gross domestic product during the January-to-March period exceeded the 4.8 percent annual rate initially estimated a month ago, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Gross domestic product measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is considered the best barometer of the country’s economic fitness.

The upgraded reading on GDP, based on more complete information, mostly reflected stronger U.S. exports and better inventory building by businesses.

5.3 percent is absolutely blazing…

But considering the inflation talk I’m hearing from the hardcore gold-standard folks, I worry a little bit about what this number means. For those of you economics folks who read this blog regularly (i.e. Perry or Uncle Jack), can you answer a question?

Does inflation factor into this number? If so, how prominently? Elsewhere in the article, they were discussing a 2% rise in core consumer prices, following a 2.4% increase in Q4′05… Either way you look at it, 5.3% reported GDP growth indicates a humming economy, even if that number is masking some inflation. But I would hope to know just how much REAL growth is really there, if inflation is being counted.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:28 am || Permalink || Comments (2) || Trackback URL || Categories: Economics, News


May 24, 2006


Why Journalism School Sucks

“Sleeper effect” of cigarettes can last for years

LONDON (Reuters) – Trying just one cigarette may not be so harmless for non-smokers after all.

Scientists have discovered that a single cigarette has a “sleeper effect” that can increase a person’s vulnerability for three years or more to becoming a regular smoker.

Increase a person’s vulnerability? That statement has a causative implication. What are they saying, that if you smoke a cigarette, it might make you a habitual smoker years down the road. As if cigarettes have an addictive power that lasts three years.

But then it gets even worse:

Fidler and her team analyzed the impact of smoking a single cigarette on more than 2,000 children aged between 11 and 16 over five years.

Of the 260 children who by age 11 had tried one cigarette, 18 percent were regular smokers by the time they reached 14. But only seven percent of 11-year-olds who had never smoked had taken up the habit three years later.

“The results also indicate that prior experimentation is a strong predictor of taking up smoking later,” said Fidler, who reported the findings in the journal Tobacco Control on Thursday.

As if it’s the cigarette’s fault. How about this: the kind of kids who hang out with smokers and try cigarettes at age 11 are likely not supervised at home, hanging out with a crowd who are pressuring them to do it, and that’s why they’re more likely to smoke later?

This isn’t a sleeper effect. It’s a selection bias. Hell, it’s common sense!

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:15 pm || Permalink || Comments (4) || Trackback URL || Categories: News, Science, Snark


May 23, 2006


Carnival of Liberty XLVI

The Carnival #46 is up at Left Brain Female. Go check it out, lots of good stuff over there.

I personally liked this, this, and this.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 8:25 am || Permalink || Comments Off || Trackback URL || Categories: Around The 'Sphere, Carnivals


May 21, 2006


Last Night’s Blogger Meetup…

As I previously mentioned, last night we did a libertarian-oriented blogger meetup here in Atlanta. It was originally suggested by Randall of Catallarchy, and we ended up having eight people show up. Three of us were active bloggers, but everyone was well up to speed on all the topics we ended up discussing.

It was odd, for me. We had a group that spanned from 3 anarchists, to a heavy objectivist, as well as general libertarians and (like me) classical liberals. I say it’s odd, because in the offline world, any group of people I’m around are invariably more statist than I am. Half or more of the group last night, though, envision a smaller state than I do (or none at all). Also odd was the way in which each of us interact with the State. One guy works with city government on eminent domain matters, another is a computer science guy who is in the process of obtaining secret clearance for government work. Invariably all of us knew someone who either worked for, or closely on concert with government, which shows you just how large the State really is…

I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had originally thought I might stick around for two hours or so; it ended up being four. I rarely get a chance to have long discussions about politics with people who have a clue what they’re talking about, thus I ended up leaving the meeting feeling energized, even though it was 11:00 PM. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one, and doubly glad we didn’t end up getting arrested for sedition.

As an added bonus, we didn’t have a problem with the one worry about meeting people from the internet: nobody was a weirdo. (Either that, or we’re all sufficiently weird that we just thought each other were normal!)

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 6:27 pm || Permalink || Comments (2) || Trackback URL || Categories: Blogging, Libertarianism, Personal Life



I Can See My House From Here!

Before:

DSC03354

After:

DSC03601

Some work with the chainsaw between myself and the neighbor, and some backbreaking work actually dragging all the trees up the hill to the fire pit, but well worth it, don’t you think?

All that, and I didn’t end up with any [more] chainsaw scars!

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 5:07 pm || Permalink || Comments (7) || Trackback URL || Categories: Personal Life


May 19, 2006


Treating Believers like Children

Ted Baehr: ‘Code’ not benign

A few pundits are arguing that Christians should read the bestselling book The Da Vinci Code and see the movie to “engage the culture” and as a tool for evangelism.

By that argument, we should encourage people to read other popular, but infamous, works: Chinese dictator Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book, or The Communist Manifesto. Or, why not Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic diatribe popular in Muslim circles?

You’re darn right, we should encourage people to read those books. After all, only by knowing your adversaries’ beliefs can you argue against them. There was a reason I took the “Classic and Contemporary Marxism” class at Purdue, and it wasn’t because I was aspiring to become a Marxist. What’s so scary about people reading the opposing view?

It would be wonderful to believe Christians can argue the facts to Dan Brown’s hate-filled, fictitious attack on Jesus Christ, Christianity, the Bible, Christians and history. The truth is, however, that many people have not read a Bible or understood their faith sufficiently to counter the story’s intricacies.

Shouldn’t this guy be a little bit more concerned that the Church is filled with people who have very little understanding of what they purport to believe? How can anyone be a good Christian without having a fairly clear understanding of the tenets of that faith?

Of course, there are areas where in-depth knowledge is not necessary for daily life. I don’t need to know the intricacies of string theory and quantum mechanics to understand basic physics. The approximate laws of gravity are close enough for government work. But I think that if we’re gambling with an eternal soul, it would be worth it to learn enough to make an informed decision.

Does the average person know what Gnostic Gospels are? Are people familiar with the Catholic group Opus Dei? What is the answer when Christians are asked whether Jesus married Mary Magdalene? Did they have children? Has the church hidden important facts from the faithful? These are just some of the complex issues discussed in The Da Vinci Code. Although it is fiction, it contains enough references to history to make Christians question their beliefs.

The slanderous distortions and falsehoods are as dangerous as they are numerous. The movie threatens to strike another massive blow to people’s understanding and knowledge of God, Christianity and history.

How can this book and movie threaten to strike a massive blow to people’s understanding and knowledge of God, when the writer has just claimed that people don’t have enough understanding or knowledge of God to counter the arguments of the movie?

I question my beliefs all the time. A year ago, I would have made the argument that the protections of the Bill of Rights only applied to American citizens, because I hadn’t even really considered the opposite. Since, I’ve learned quite a bit and changed my belief. At the same time, I’ve been bombarded with knowledge about the tenets of anarcho-capitalism, and yet I haven’t made the leap there. I’m an adult, and I can evaluate these things for myself. I don’t need someone to “protect me from these ideas”. Neither do Christian moviegoers.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:13 pm || Permalink || Comments (6) || Trackback URL || Categories: Books, Pop Culture, Religion



What a Relief!

Wow… The big talk all day has been this story, about the new Iranian dress codes:

A colour code for Iran’s ‘infidels’

It also envisages separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public. The new codes would enable Muslims to easily recognize non-Muslims so that they can avoid shaking hands with them by mistake, and thus becoming najis (unclean).

[insert standard Nazi reference here]

Yeah, that would be pretty bad. There aren’t very many worse emotional images than the Jews in Germany forced to wear the Star of David as an “identification”. Thankfully, it appears that this little portion of the law doesn’t actually exist. So we can all breathe easier.

Or can we?

The law mandates the government to make sure that all Iranians wear “standard Islamic garments” designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions reflected in clothing, and to eliminate “the influence of the infidel” on the way Iranians, especially, the young dress.

According to Ahmadinejad, the new Islamic uniforms will establish “visual equality” for Iranians as they prepare for the return of the Hidden Imam.

A committee that consists of members from the Ministry of Islamic Orientation, the Ministry of Commerce and the Cultural Subcommittee of the Islamic Majlis is scheduled to propose the new uniforms by next autumn. These would then have to be approved by the “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei before being imposed by law.

Wait… So the government is going to mandate uniforms?

It looks like justbarkingmad has seen this before, and knows where it leads:

What is true is that the Islamic Majlis, the Iranian religious legislature, did pass a law requiring everyone in Iran to wear Approved by Allahtm clothing. Now we’ve seen this before in China. Everyone wore those cute little jackets and pajama pants.

And a lot of people died.

The collective blogosphere is breathing that sigh of relief. But when a government has grown intrusive enough to mandate uniforms, I think it’s a big red flag, that they’re willing to mandate a whole lot more. For all those people who defend the Iranian regime, acting like it’s really a “democracy”, take a closer look.

Democracy is a word that people here in America take very seriously. In some respects, Iran is actually a democracy, but democracy and freedom are only somewhat related to each other. Iran is a democracy under the Islamic constraints (i.e. whatever the mullahs say), and America is a democracy under classical liberal constraints enshrined in our Constitution. There’s a big difference.

There’s trouble brewing in Iran, whether you believe they’re trying to pull the “identification” thing for religious minorities or not. When the time comes that American politicians start debating a “national uniform”, you’re going to see me moving the hell out.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 8:51 pm || Permalink || Comments (2) || Trackback URL || Categories: Constitution, Libertarianism, News

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