Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It Continues

Tax season continues to drag on. I was talking with a coworker today and mentioned that working tax season is awesome because you know it isn't going to last forever like a "real" job; you have a definite date when it will all be over and you can forget any of it ever happened. Then after nine months, you've forgotten how horrible it was and are all teed up for another run at it.

The biggest challenge so far this year is that I never know how late I'm going to end up working. People show up whenever they want to for their shift (if they bother to show up at all) without any consequences, likely because the manager herself never gets to work on time. Nearly every day I end up running the entire office single-handed (or worse, my "help" is someone with zero knowledge of taxes, the software, how to use a PC...) because someone is late or a no-show. The first week or so, that was no big deal. Now it is. People are getting their W-2's and are pouring into the office in a steady stream.

Flickr has a photo set taken in Detroit that documents what catabolic collapse looks like. It's interesting to see people's reaction when other places in the country experience the inescapable results of 40+ years of economic mismanagement that have been life in the Rust Belt the whole time. Whenever a client who went from productive member of society to parasite (which is nearly every client I've had so far) starts whinging about how bad things are, all I have to do is mention that I'm originally from Flint and they immediately nod and say something about how I know all about it. Yes. Yes I do. Unfortunately, what could have served as a wake-up call has instead become the first over the cliff.

It's good to see that the battle for the hearts and minds in Afghanistan is going well:

After two failed attempts at clearing the village resulted in U.S and Afghan casualties, Flynn’s response was to take the village out. He ordered a mine-clearing line charge, using rocket-propelled explosives to create a path into the center of Tarok Kolache.

And that was for starters, Broadwell writes. Airstrikes from A-10s and B-1s combined with powerful ground-launched rockets on Oct. 6 to batter the village with “49,200 lbs. of ordnance” — which she writes, resulted in “NO CIVCAS,” meaning no civilians dead.

...As Broadwell tells it, the villagers understood that the United States needed to destroy their homes — except when they don’t. One villager “in a fit of theatrics had accused Flynn of ruining his life after the demolition.”

...“Sure they are pissed about the loss of their mud huts,” Broadwell wrote on Facebook...

How unreasonable of those goat herders to place more value on their homes than on over-grown children making things go boom. Towelheads are so ungrateful. And it isn't like we won't rebuild their stupid little huts. Someday. Maybe. If we get a round tuit. Don't they understand that we are building a Democracy one flattened village at a time? Graveyard of empires indeed.

Anyone who has played sports has been on both sides of this:

It's been called unsportsmanlike. It's been called ugly. The question now is whether Christian Heritage (Utah) High, which routed West Ridge (Utah) Academy, 108-3, in a girls basketball game last week, actually did anything wrong by blowing out an overwhelmed opponent.

The winning coach did what little he could. With only a nine-person team, he didn't have a full scrub team to put on the floor. He (rightly in my opinion) felt passing the ball around playing keep-away or intentionally tanking on defense would be more humiliating to the losing team than the wildly lopsided score. I'm not sure what the whiners expect. Play with only three players? Play on their knees? Would it have really made any difference if they had? Three points? Three points? No full-court press, no man-to-man defense and you can only manage three points? And you expect the other team to apologize? For what exactly? Having a pulse? Not tying their shoes together at half-time? Not forfeiting at the end of the first quarter to save the fragile egos of the losing team? (From the news story, it sounds more like the "adults" were the ones with the fragile egos, not the kids.) It's called competitive sports. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you win really big. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you get pounded into the floor. If you're afraid your poor little tykes can't handle it, don't have sports teams. And as always, the real entertainment is in the comments.

Well, that was interesting. We just experienced our first Florida squall line. I've been watching it coming towards us on the radar for the last couple hours. When it got here, it was pushing some sort of massive pressure wave in front of it that would have busted open our door if I hadn't had the dead bolt thrown. That was followed by a drop in air pressure that made my ears pop and... er... not sure what to call it. Saying it was raining would be like calling Niagara Falls a little water splashing on some rocks. But the whole thing was over in five minutes. Of course, the Energizer Weatherman was jumping around in front of his weather map showing how we were in for a rough night with huge storm after huge storm lasting until four in the morning. He must have access to some Sooper Sekret weather radar, because all I see is about three more hours of plain ol' rain followed by exactly nothing. I guess "five minute gully washer followed by a few hours of perfectly ordinary rain" doesn't sell ad time. [Update: Every single network channel has preempted regular programing to show a downed tree. Holy. Crap. Thank the gods for Hulu.]

Everyone knows that all of us fat people are destroying the planet. We eat too much, shit too much, take up too much space on the subway, reduce fuel economy on jets, and use too much health care with our diabetes and heart disease. Like so many things we all "know" the story proves to be a bit more complicated:

Recent estimates suggest that approximately one in three obese individuals remain metabolically healthy (displaying normal blood glucose, blood lipids, blood pressure, and a healthy cytokine profile) despite their excess weight. These same individuals may have a similar risk of developing heart disease and diabetes as their skinny counterparts and they may actually become less healthy by losing weight!

Every dataset has its outliers; if the story was "one in 1,000 obese individuals remain healthy" there wouldn't have been a story. But one in three? Sounds like over-simplified story-telling is getting in the way of reality. Again.

And from Information is Beautiful:

We already have computer generated nonsense getting published in peer-reviewed journals. I wonder how those same programs would do on horoscopes?

I guess I should go mop up the water leaking in the window. Love our cute little ghetto apartment.

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