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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fun with Taxes!

Calarco v. Commissioner, 2004 WL 1616387: a decision in three Acts (including a prologue and epilogue and funny footnotes)!! Tax law makes you insane:

From the Prologue:

This case follows in that long, but little-noted, tradition. Petitioner, N. Joseph Calarco, is a respected professor of theater at Wayne State University in Detroit. He also writes plays. On his 1997 tax return, he deducted his playwriting expenses as a Schedule C business loss. Respondent disallowed both the loss and several itemized deductions that petitioner took on his Schedule A. These disallowances created a deficiency of $3,869 to which respondent added an accuracy-related penalty of $774. Petitioner, following the lead of Henry VIII's first Queen Katherine, [FN11] filed a timely petition in this Court . . .

From the Second Act

In extreme cases, this can even lead to a kind of deduction fever:
"Itemizing? What's that, Satan?"
"Well, you see, Josh, now that you're not just a salaried copy editor but also a freelance television critic, you can file a Schedule C and deduct your legitimate business expenses....
So I went home, waded as usual through the pot smoke of my roommates, shut the door, and looked around my room. What was a "legitimate business expense"? Okay, I'm a television critic, so ... the television! Yes! Because I need something to criticize!
Okay, so the television ... And then--yeah, the VCR, because I can't watch every episode of "T.J. Hooker." ...
And, of course, the videotapes.... And the replacement labels for the tapes, which I get from Radio Shack.... Oh---and the TV Guide, which guides me to the television! ... And the books of television criticism I've bought. And actually, the books I've bought that aren't television criticism: they've still informed my criticism of the television.... Oh---and the chair I sit in, of course: very important what your posture is when you criticize a television. And the food I eat--which literally makes up the cells that form the critic of the television....
Kornbluth, supra.

Petitioner has fallen victim--at least at times--to this fever, claiming many quotidian activities, such as reading newspapers and renting movies, to be "business-related". He is, at some level of abstraction, no doubt correct. But we must administer the tax laws as they are . . .

From the Footnotes:

FN22. See Master of the House on Les Miserables: Original Broadway Cast (Geffen Records) (suggesting benefits of enhanced substantiation requirements for certain innkeepers).

FN24. Although best known to tax lawyers for his rule, George M. Cohan was also a playwright, actor, and songwriter, who wrote such stage classics as "The Man Who Owned Broadway." His life outside tax litigation was the source material for the classic Jimmy Cagney film, Yankee Doodle Dandy (Warner Bros.1942). (We also note that this year marks the centennial of Cohan's breakout role in Little Johnny Jones, featuring Yankee Doodle Boy (I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy) and Give My Regards to Broadway.)

The Epilogue:

Dramatists used to finish with some rhymes, Mostly iambs with a pinch of dactyly, But in these more prosaic times Works usually end more matter-of-factily.
In our Court, though, the oldest ways seem somehow to survive--
A decision will be entered under Rule 155.

... Makes you go insane, I say.

Fun with Corporations

In the spirit of bringing up old links that I think are cool, thought I'd send out a link to It's an interactive website linking companies and people on the boards of directors of corporations. Go to "Load Maps" and then "Popular" for some interesting maps already generated and submitted by others. It's amazing how different the "Ten Richest People" map is than most others.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cat Sites Part Deux

Also for you:

The Infinite Cat Project


My Cat Hates You

Images from the latter.

Cat Site

... I still like

Particularly funny is the "Creatures on Cats" section.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

"Damn Cool" Optical Illusion

It is pretty cool.

Link found at Volokh.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rocky VI?

This seems like a wild card to me.

Pic will shoot starting in the first quarter of 2006 in Philadelphia and Las Vegas. No release date has been set yet.

Stallone said the story has the aging, widowed Rocky initially refusing a chance to get back in the ring.

"There's a computer fight between the reigning world champion and Balboa, and Balboa wins," he said.

"The champion's management says let's do this for real, for charity. Rocky says no but decides to be true to himself even though he's going to be berated by everyone. Just to compete, not to win."

. . . Stallone said the project has been gestating for four years.

That took four years?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Soccer is Forbidden Except When Played as Training for Jihad

Terrorists hate when you play soccer for fun, or like an American or Frenchman.

An excerpt from the Fatwa of 2003 (from MEMRI):

"1. Don't play soccer with four lines [surrounding the field], since this is the way of the non-believers, and the international soccer rules require drawing [these lines] before playing.

"2. One should not use the terminology established by the non-believers and the polytheists, like: 'foul,' 'penalty kick,' 'corner kick,' 'goal,' and 'out of bounds.' Whoever pronounces these terms should be punished, reprimanded, kicked out of the game, and should even be told in public: 'You have come to resemble the non-believers and the polytheists, and this has been forbidden.'

"3. If one of you falls during the game and breaks his hand or his foot, or if the ball hits his hand, he shall not say 'foul' and shall not stop playing because of his injury. The one who caused his injury shall not receive a yellow or a red card, but rather the case shall be judged according to Muslim law in the case of a broken bone or an injury. The injured player shall exercise his rights according to the shari'a, as [is stated] in the Koran, and you must testify together with him that so-and-so tripped him up intentionally.

"4. Do not set the number [of players] according to the number of players used by the non-believers, the Jews, the Christians, and especially the vile America. In other words, 11 players shall not play together. Make it a larger or a smaller number.

"5. Play in your normal clothing, or in pajamas, or something like that, but not in colorful pants and numbered jerseys. Pants and jerseys are not appropriate clothing for Muslims. They are the clothing of the non-believers and of the West, and therefore you must be careful not to wear them.

"6. Once you have fulfilled [these] conditions and rules, you must play the entire game with the intention of improving your physical fitness for the purpose of fighting Jihad for Allah's sake and preparing for the time when jihad is needed. One should not waste time in celebrating a false victory.

"7. Do not play for 45 minutes, as is the practice among the Jews,
the Christians, and in all of the countries of non-belief and atheism. This is
also the length of time that is accepted in the soccer clubs of those who have strayed from the righteous path. You must be different than the non-believers, depart from their path, and not imitate them in anything. . . "


"13. If one of you inserts the ball between the posts and then starts to run so that his companions will run after him and hug him, like the players in America and France do, you should spit in his face, punish him, and reprimand him, for what do joy, hugging, and kissing have to do with sports? . . ."

I guess if you're not going to win the World Cup, you might as well pretend that you were never playing the same game. Just like the Python and Alligator story, this is too bizarre to make up, so check it out yourself.

Python v. Alligator Update

From the AP (they have five for your viewing pleasure, or displeasure).

Monday, October 10, 2005

Expect a Song About This in the Near Future

"As excited as I was about becoming a new father, my disappointment is equally as strong. So out of respect for all that are involved, please allow this situation to remain private and know that I will not be commenting further on this very personal matter."

Ouch. I guess the country music scene really is rough. Buet, if he wanted this to remain private, why did he post it online?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

"Advanced Formula"

Rarely am I sincerely confused or genuinely annoyed by the marketing materials of commonplace products. Vaseline's marketing on its Advanced Lip Therapy Skin Protectant is intolerable.

To me, marketing is story-telling. It should tell you something not only about the product itself, but about how that product relates to you. Everyone knows that Herbal Ecstacy is not going to release dopamine in females to the extent their commercials might suggest. But a shower is nevetheless relaxing, a feeling that is reinforced by the smell of a familiar product. We know that eating Go-Gurt or drinking a Capri Sun won't make thirteen year olds ridiculous soccer stars or skateboardering legends, but how many CEOs do you see drinking Capri Suns? Consumers' perceptions of a product are essential concerns of the marketer who, in turn, shapes or utilizes these perceptions through marketing efforts. Yet, when the consumer is standing in the shampoo/drink aisle of the grocery store, he knows that the magical story about this product is incomplete. A tube with yoghurt is novel, but, hey, is it really that different from the timeless cup and spoon? To me, it is not, but my answer is of little use to someone else. What is important is that the consumer asks the question. Staring at 45 distinct shampoo products, the consumer is going to ask himself, "Is this specific shampoo really all that different? I remember the ad, but I like this one for damaged hair, that seems more 'me', and I'm sure they all smell good, so I'm not really losing out." A lot of the initial magic of the first marketer's story is taken out of the product when the monopoly on the consumer's time is broken-the consumer can directly compare the products on his own time.

Of course, marketers know that this monopoly on attention will nearly always be broken and therefore design packaging to dissuade customers from buying other products, convincing the consumer that, for him, their product is really the best. It may not be worth the extra money to buy herbal essence over generic with the same ingredients and not buy into the fantasy of the former, but it does not strike me as dishonesty on the part of marketers to try to convice the consumer of the contrary. Compare the former with the packaging of Vaseline's Advanced Formula lip therapy. Set against a white background and in contrast to the surrounding dark letters is the description of the "formula" as "Advanced." Various possibilities exist, at least in my mind, as to what might make a particular lip balm advanced (or its formula): e.g., a higher SPF rating, aloe vera, chemicals that allow you to apply it less often, a map of the human genome, et. al. A lip balm with those characteristics would seem advanced to me. What does not seem like an advanced formula for a lip balm? One with the following ingredients:

Active ingredient: White Petrolatum USP (100%)
Inactive ingredient: Flavor

What?! How is that in any way an "Advanced Formula"? It now has flavor?? Is this an improvement over any previous lip balm developed by Vaseline or anyone else? Is it even an advancement over original Vaseline considering that their active ingredients are identical? Congratulations to the research department over at Vaseline for figuring out and effectively applying the complex science behind adding "Flavor" to white petrolatum USP. Check out the difference between Vaseline Baby and Vaseline? Fragrance. Although Vaseline doesn't describe the formula of the former as "advanced," I'm thinking that has more to do with the different reactions of a new mother or someone with chapped lips considering themselves duped into buying something more than vasoline with fragrance. Using the word "advanced" to describe the formula for a lip balm doesn't even pass the laugh test.

The word "advanced," of course, can also be used as an adjective meaning that something was proposed or put forth by someone. To that end, I am confident that the formula can be described as advanced in all honesty. In fact, I am willing to bet that at some point in time someone at Vaseline said, "hey, lets add flavor to vaseline, put it in a tube, call it an advanced formula lip protectant, place it next to more expensive products whose original 'formula' does not refer simply to vaseline, and watch the money come in." Jerks.

SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers

I have a lot of fun imagining the person who is actually writing this blog. It is worth noting that some Canadians thought the blog was actually written by SCOTUS nominee Mier. Pshh... Canadians.

Turkey and the EU....Psych!

Xenophobia reducing your chances of getting into the EU? No problem, look the the U.S. for pressure on Europe, then have your media write wonderful things about us.

An excerpt (from MEMRI):

"Sadly, at present Turkey is under total invasion by the USA.:
"The Turkish economy is under complete control of the U.S. through the IMF and "the World Bank; (even our demographic and genetic codes are in their hands);
"Our military is dependent on the U.S. (how soon we forgot all the bad things and the embargo they imposed on us, after our operation in Cyprus)
"There is a cultural invasion [of Turkey] by the U.S.
"We have no secrets and can hide nothing from America. Even our 'intelligence' is guided by the CIA.
"Our natural resources (including oil) are controlled by America. (Not even one-thousandth of our reserves is mined. All our riches like gold, borax, thorium, uranium, must urgently be utilized in cooperation with other friendly countries.)
"Our agricultural sector (through the IMF) is directly guided by the USA (e.g.: No measures can ever be taken against Cargill [7], even if our national interests dictate it.) "

It seems like all you have to do these days to rally the sycophants is yell IMF or World Bank. Readings these sorts of things is entirely depressing.


Answering that ageless question of who would win in a fight, Python or Alligator? Who ever knew that there would be no winners. . . well, besides everyone who gets to read about it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Gillespie on Mier

From the Mercury News:

Appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room," former Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie criticized news reports suggesting Miers is "not intellectually qualified" to serve on the court.
"Well, unless you know Harriet Miers and spend time with her, how would you even know that?" said Gillespie, who is helping the White House with the confirmation. "Those of us who do, who have spent time, know she is intellectually qualified."


Thursday, October 06, 2005


I've actually read about this at various places, but had never seen pictures. Fishing with dogs? That's about as novel as eating snails.

Alright.... now Im tired, goodnight.


P.S. Crispin Glover, yeah, he's strange.


...whether his story or his hair impresses me more.

3Ls on 1Ls

Meant to be funny, I am saddened to recognize that Il know at least three people who would think he is being serious.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Michigan . . .

. . . don't duel.

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