Saturday, June 23, 2018

Can You Help Someone This Weekend?

Online Sales Tax, Here We Come

Brace yourself.

If you do any ordering online, the odds are very, very good that from now on, you'll be paying sales tax -- whether the company is in your home state or not.

The Supreme Court just ruled that states can collect sales tax from online orders generated in their location. (Interestingly enough, this started with a South Dakota case. How many online customers from this plains state are ordering, versus, say, New York?)

States aren't required to do this. Five states don't charge sales tax now: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. (Alaska and Montana do allow local towns to charge their own tax.) Ironically, this article praises Colorado for having the lowest state sales tax (2.9%) -- but our total in the Castle Rock area is closer to 9.5%, thanks to local add-ons. (The stinkers.)

 But I never heard of a state government that didn't sprint to the fiscal feed trough when it had the go-ahead to do so.

Big online companies like Amazon, Ebay and Wayfair are squealing, too. They've been getting away with lax sales tax charges for ages...and picking up a lot of orders because of it.

So have we as customers, quite frankly.

So... will this cost you more in the long run? Yes -- but it's really more fair, particularly to small companies with a retail presence who've been forced to charge sales tax all along to their walk-in customers. For companies without a storefront, whose sales are largely from the internet, it's going to be a pain -- each state charges differently. (This includes Brickworks, my company. Oh boy.)

I wonder if there will eventually be some kind of national agreement between the states on a sales tax percentage...but so far, it hasn't happened.

For more on how this is going to affect you, go here.

guess why I'm using this photo? (Hint: it's Irish.)

Koko Is Gone

The gorilla who showed her skills in understanding language is dead. She was 46 -- and almost made it to her 47th birthday, on the Fourth of July.

Koko used objects and sign language -- more than a thousand signs -- to express herself. She learned to understand more than 2,000 English words...and play the recorder.

In the process, she made many friends and admirers, including Robin Williams.

Sleep well, Koko. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Always Read Instructions

This teacher's instruction sheet is a winner. 

Would you have read all the way through, at first?   (I didn't...)\


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I Don't Understand This, Either!

Suddenly It's Just Awful that families who are entering the U.S. illegally (note that word, folks) have been separated and put into separate holding facilities.
     Including older children who may have been sent separately in the first place, on purpose, figuring they could slip in when their adult parents could not.  (See further comments on this in a bit.)

Like you, I've heard all sorts of brouhaha from every celebrity on the planet, saying how terrible this is. One even had the temerity to announce that Barron Trump, poor kid, should be 'ripped from his mother's arms' and thrown into a cage of pedophiles.  (To his credit, Peter Fonda did apologize for being such a jerk. But he never should have said it in the first place.)

Even ex-President Obama got into mode, with a long Facebook post on World Refugee Day. Same subject -- how cruel to have families broken apart, we can use our votes to change things (hint, vote Democratic next time!)...and so on. What a noble gesture, right?

Except there's a problem. 

This policy didn't start with Trump -- it began in 2014, during President Obama's administration.

Families were put in detention centers while awaiting the same 'cages' and under the same conditions that Mr. Obama and others are decrying now. (This was particularly the case for young migrants who came separately. Thousands of them.)

Trump's 'zero tolerance' policy, separating children from adults, has been going on since April 19. Why has it suddenly exploded into such a brouhaha? Is this a camouflage to keep our attention turned away from something else that's going on?

I know, I know. Way too suspicious for my own good. What about the recent North Korea summit meetings, that seem to have gone well? (God forbid that anyone admits anything the Trump administration did was effective.)

Perhaps the United Nations' frantic stance on Israel?


At any rate, the outcry has worked. Today, President Trump signed papers reversing the separation part of the 'no tolerance' policy, after bipartisan pressure to do so. "I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated," the president said.

[Update: Poor Mrs. Trump. She stops by one of the centers to try and encourage -- so what does the media do, but focus on her silly jacket.  Sure, it's trendy...that's why she wore it. President Trump tweeted that it really was a message to the media...but I don't believe that. Just a slipup, an incredibly foolish fashion choice -- and a strong reminder that when you're in the public eye, people notice everything.]

Back to the subject at hand.

I don't like seeing families separated, either, if those children really were little kids. That's heartless. This article mentions more than 2,300 children being separated...but then says 'more than 100' were under four years old. Awful....glad that's not happening anymore. 

But what about the other 2,200+ kids? How old, really, were they? (No doubt there were some slightly older, but the photos show a lot of older teenagers.) See the Border Patrol's statement on this subject, suggesting that some of these kids are showing up because they've largely been 'immune from prosecution.'  In other words, they can slip through and go on to foster care in the U.S. Paid for, of course, by us -- the U.S. taxpayers.

Double hmmmm.

So now we're back to the Obama plan: holding families jointly while they're waiting for trial. (In other words, they're still being prosecuted for attempting to enter the States illegally. Same as other presidents' administrations have been doing for ages.)

And when they're deported, the kids and the adults get sent back. Together.

Let's see ex-President Obama, and his raft of celebrities, blame Trump for that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Yet Even More Things I Don't Understand

Gentle Readers, you know how much I enjoy a good story. Some are stranger than others, though. Here's the latest installment in You Know What. 

Anna Sorokin -- or, as we know her better, Anna Delvey -- turns down a plea deal of 3-9 years in prison, because she wanted a 1-3 year deal, instead. Now she gets to go to trial, with a max of 15 years as a possibility. 

     “I see no remorse,” Justice Diane Kiesel told Anna Sorokin, 27, who sauntered into court wearing black-rimmed glasses, a makeshift white headband and a prison-issue sweatsuit.
“She seems more concerned about who is going to play her in the movie than what she’s done to the people she allegedly took advantage of,” said Kiesel in Manhattan Supreme Court... calling the defense lawyer’s request for one to three years “a mere slap on the wrist for a crime this serious.”

Other grifters abound, so much so that one writer calls this "The Summer of Scam," even though the plots go way back to 2015 and before. Like William Baekeland, who said he was an heir to the Bakelite inventor's fortune, and weasled more than $800,000, ostensibly to arrange exotic luxury trips for people. (He wasn't...and he didn't.)

The Fyre Festival promoter comes in for a bow, too. He even managed to scam more people for fake tickets while he was out on bail for the original mess.  (He says it wasn't his fault -- his girlfriend and an employee did the dirty deed.)

Or another interesting entrepreneur -- Elizabeth Holmes, the college student who built a blood testing company, Theranos, into a huge success. (Only it didn't do what it said.) Now she and her co-founder have been indicted for fraud.

In both Holmes' and Delvey's cases: I did not realize, until I'd been researching quite a bit, how often both women resorted to an innocent wide-eyed pose in photos. We saw a similar big starey-eyed look from someone in our circle...whenever, it turned out, she was lying to us.

See what I mean?  Anna Delvey, via a fascinating article in

The glamour model who says she was brainwashed by ISIS...via Facebook. "I liked the attention," she explained." That ranks right up there with 'Dr. Love,' the 20-year-old who ran his own medical clinic...and just got sentenced to a year in prison for it.  Turns out he was actually up to more shenanigans, including trying to buy a Jaguar.  Using an elderly relative's credit, which he'd already rifled the day before for two IPads and a cellphone. (His attorney praised his "entrepreneurial spirit." Go figure. His grandpa said at least he had "good intentions.")

Why does the Daily Mail, a British paper, use the phrases "jaw-dropping" and "flaunts cleavage" so often in its celebrity posts?   Doesn't anyone on staff ever use a thesaurus? (Here's an online one , in case you need it.)
     Yes, I read these celebrity doings. So spank me. How else would I know about important details like 'Superman' Dean Cain being sworn in as a police officer, and Sheryl Crowe loving leather jackets? Not to mention nine hundred bazillion details about the Kardashians. (Okay, I could do without those.)

The passenger who forced EVERYONE on a Spirit flight to get off... because she refused to.  She was late, but ran past an employee and got on, anyways. She announced that she never used swear words...right after she reeled off a bunch. And, my favorite, showed her lack of bias by racially insulting other passengers as they got off. Because of her.
     Oh yes, and taped it all. (Conveniently stopping just before she, according to the police, kicked the arresting officer in the groin. She says he beat on her, instead.)
      Whoo boy.

A South Korean bitcoin exchange announces that (oops) $32 million of its bitcoins have just plain disappeared over the past few days. But that's ok -- the company will make it up out of 'its own funds.' Sure, it will.

Threw away more salad greens from the wedding than I'd care to admit

 Harvey Weinstein has pled not guilty. What did you expect? (No doubt Oprah will be a no-show as a character witness, in spite of all his hopes.) 

Chicken bullies.  There you go.

...or eat frog's legs. We have a friend, Ben Madrid, who thinks this way.

A caller phones into the Art Bell radio show... a very frantic caller. If he's right -- and Bell certainly thought he was credible -- it has some very scary implications for the government, Area 51 and aliens in general. Listen to the tape, and see what you think.

The Brick once worked at Buckley Air Force Base, known as the location of the 'golf balls' to locals. One man who also worked there alleged that 'we' were communicating with aliens regularly. (From Mars, I believe.) I asked the Brick if he'd seen anything like that. 'You have GOT to be kidding,' he said.

Why not just put a fried egg applique around the kid's head?

And if you're still not satisfied, there's always:

Good 'ol Kathy Griffin, still as obnoxious as ever. Makes you feel proud, don't it?

And if you're into current events, this one ranks right up there, too.

For more of same, go here. And here.  And here. Here too.  And this one, as well.  It never ends.

Thanks for Pinterest for most of the weird photos and memes...

Can You Help Someone This Weekend?