Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taxes, Taxes and More Taxes

I've been spending most of my time over the last week learning more than I ever wanted to know about the tax treatment of the gain on the sale of Section 1244 stock acquired through a like-kind exchange with your brother. The IRS is kind of like Apple: Yea, there's a law for that. I'm giving myself another couple weeks to get ready, then I'll take a crack at the first of three tests I need to pass to be an enrolled agent. We'll see how that goes.

Other than that, about all I've been doing is my morning bicycle ride and a bit of light reading when my brain turns to mush from too much tax code. I'm still riding my same 10.4 mile loop and seem to have finally broke through my 12mph barrier; I managed 12.1mph average speed Friday and Saturday. I'm taking today off, so tomorrow we'll see if this is real or if I fall back into the 11's.

The light reading has been a re-reading of John Michael Greer's The Long Descent and The Ecotechnic Future before reading his third in the series, The Wealth of Nature. All three are fairly quick reads at about 250 pages each. The Wealth of Nature gets into a bit of economics, but nothing as heavy as a typical Econ 101 text book and great deal more logical. If you care at all about your grandchildren, read these.

Like Debbie posted, we were originally planning on heading down to Disney on her day off, but we didn't get up and around until after 10am. The weather liars said is was going to start storming around 2pm, we really really needed to do some grocery shopping, and it was supposed to be in the mid-90's, so we decided to skip it this time. Of course, the rain was a no-show, but at least we now have something more for food in the house than Ramen, Cap'n Crunch and Klondike bars.

Nothing special today other than my usual stint at the library shelving books. I've started another purge, so I have a couple bags of books to donate while I'm there. I'm trying to get rid of our 5-foot-by-7-foot bookcase that takes up half the office as part of the on-going Shrink-the-Crap-Pile project. We've been working on this for five years now. We're slowly making progress, although more Crap appears every time we turn our backs. I swear it breeds in the corners when we're not looking. Moving a lot certainly helps with motivation; it's easier to sell/donate/dumpster than it is to pack/haul/unpack.

The big news of the week is the terror attacks in Norway. Bombing government offices is bad, but hardly anything new. What makes this incident truly horrifying is the second attack at a youth camp; nothing more than the pointless slaughter of a bunch of kids at summer camp. They have the guy and he supposedly has some diatribe he wants to deliver through his attorney. I expect it to have the usual anti-government ranting, but I'm morbidly curious to see what twisted logic makes shooting a bunch of kids at camp "atrocious" but "necessary".

The Space Shuttle Atlantis has landed without incident. There's a lot of people both inside and outside of NASA that keep trying to put a happy face on this. I'm not one of them. The United States will never again launch another manned vessel into space. From walking on the moon to bumming rides into low earth orbit from our former mortal enemies in my lifetime. I'd have never believed it. At least our little remote control car is still chugging along on Mars. It's getting a little glitchy, but it continues to trundle along towards Endeavour crater.

One of the problems of "progress" is that at times it doesn't feel that way. Scott Adams has a short bit on cell phones. I have to say, the more I hear about smart phones, the more I'm glad I still have my $30, four-year-old flip phone that I can't make phone calls with instead of blowing several hundred bucks on something I can use to run an app that makes fart sounds but still can't make phone calls with.

Speaking of progress, here is a good TED Talk on the fight against computer viruses and how it has changed since the days of the Centipede virus. The discussion of the implications of Stuxnet is a bit... um... terrifying?

Most everyone believes we are screwed. There are still one or two optimists left, but the current stupidity in the Imperial City is steadily eroding their ranks. What is being debated is who we should point the finger at: Democrats? Republicans? Bush? Obama? Osama? Banks? Hedge funds? That dude staring at me from my mirror every morning? (Note that piece was written in 1936.) Nah. Can't be that. Must have something to do with the Mayan calendar.

Poverty ain't what is used to be:

Each year for the past two decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty.” In recent years, the Census has reported that one in seven Americans are poor. But what does it mean to be “poor” in America? How poor are America’s poor?

...if poverty means lacking nutritious food, adequate warm housing, and clothing for a family, relatively few of the more than 30 million people identified as being “in poverty” by the Census Bureau could be characterized as poor. While material hardship definitely exists in the United States, it is restricted in scope and severity. The average poor person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines.

...In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or a PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave. Other household conveniences included a clothes washer, clothes dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker.

...the typical poor American had more living space than the average European.

...Poor families certainly struggle to make ends meet, but in most cases, they are struggling to pay for air conditioning and the cable TV bill....

Real poverty certainly exists; for being the wealthiest nation in human history, the number of people living under bridges and in cardboard boxes ought to be a source of deep shame (not that Americans even know what that word means). But if I see one more "poor" person bitching into her iPhone about how unfair it is that the school is only giving her brat free breakfast and lunch and not free dinner as well, someone's gonna get hurt.

Bob Seger is going to be in Florida in November. Unfortunately, he is part of one of those two-day Lollapalooza-type things along with several dozen other bands playing on four separate stages. Just going for the one day that Seger is supposed to be playing is $80 a person, plus having to hang around for 12 hours just to get to hear him play for maybe and hour at the most. We're not jumping all over the tickets just yet. We have no idea what will be happening next week not alone in four months, so I'm not anxious to blow $160 on something we may not even be able to go to.

Well, I need to get ready to go shelve some books.

No comments: