I've got a little ritual I wanted to share: On campus, there is a Free Speech Monument. "This soil and the airspace extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity's jurisdiction," it says. And every time I walk across Sproul Plaza, I walk straight towards that monument, and go out of my way to walk around it.
The freedom that that monument embodies is important to me, and I don't want to waste it with random foot traffic. I want to save the freedom for when I need it, for some moment when I need to stand in an ungoverned circle of earth and say something people don't want to let me to. Seeing everyone else arbitrarily step all over that monument is just a sign to me of how much people take their freedom of speech for granted, and how little they actually think about it.
It's good that people can take our freedom for granted, but that doesn't mean they should. If we don't think about it regularly, how are we going to notice if it's taken from us piece by piece? A Freedom Canary?
It's Jury Summons season again, and this time, I got one, my mom got one, and Kevin got one.
I had a great plan for how I'd handle it if I did get called to serve, but I called last night and they said "call back wednesday night." But by Wednesday night I plan to be back in Berkeley, so if I get called in I'll have to call them and say "I'm in Berkeley working... It'll take me 6 hours to get there and 6 hours to get back, and I would have had to have left last night, but if you really want me to come in, I can be there... Tomorrow morning?"
But I did have a great plan:
- Step 1: Have long hair in a conservative (for california) city.
- Step 2: Wear all black in June in a place that gets crazy hot.
- Step 3: Bring a Game Boy along to play, just in case they're not already looking at me suspiciously.
So a totally random question just occurred to me, and I don't know the answer:
What keeps a college student from collecting unemployment?
I suppose, if I had to guess right now, I'd guess that it's that a college student isn't actively seeking employment, but it seems like that'd be simple enough for a clever college student to work around... But I know nothing about unemployment laws, so that was just a totally random guess.
Does anyone have the real answer?
On the one hand, this story about implanting ID chips in people gives me the willies and makes me want to run for the hills.
On the other hand, these two paragraphs had me dying laughing:
Theologian and author Terry Cook said he worries the identification chip could be the "mark of the beast," an identifying mark that all people will be forced to wear just before the end times, according to the Bible.
Applied Digital has consulted theologians and appeared on the religious television program the "700 Club" to assure viewers the chip didn't fit the biblical description of the mark because it is under the skin and hidden from view.
You know you're in trouble when Religious Zealots turn out to be on your side. And be sure to check out the article, it's definitely something to be aware of.
So I just got this email forward, and I'm not exactly complaining, I'm just curious in a folkloristic kind of way. So below is the forward, and here's what I want from you: If you get a copy of this forward, please post in the comments or email to me any differences between the copy of the forward I got and the copy of the forward you got, along with your email address, so that I might ask you some other questions about the forward later. I may or may not use this for my folklore class, but even if I don't use it, I'll still post anything interesting anyone shares. Thanks!
TEN PROPOSED NEW LAWS FOR THIS CRISIS:
- To buy an American flag, you must present proof you have voted at least once in the last three elections (yes, local and state elections count).
- To display an American flag in any form, you must present proof of voter registration.
- To wave an American flag in public, you must be able to name at least one of the following:
- One of your U.S. Senators
- Your U.S. Representative
- Your President ("George Bush" does not count; ambiguous)
- To sell any product with an American flag on it, you must answer the following question correctly: The Bill of Rights is part of:
- The Declaration of Independence.
- The Constitution;
- The Magna Carta;
- Those heard singing patriotic songs in public may be asked to show their voter registration cards.
- To be permitted to scream "Nuke Afghanistan!" you must be able to correctly locate Afghanistan on a map or globe.
- To be permitted to scream "Arabs go home!" you must list and correctly locate ten Arab homelands.
- Those who wish to express opinions about Arabs and Arab-Americans must pass the following test:
- Those who follow the religion of Islam are called:
- The holy book of Islam is called:
- The Koran
- The Koram
- The Bible
- In Arabic, God is called:
- Priority for purchase of American flags will be given to those whose ancestors lived on American soil the longest. When all American Indians who wish to display the red, white and blue are satisfied, other applicants will be accepted.
- A call for war on any radio talk-show will be construed as a public declaration of willingness to enlist in the US Army; callers will have 24 hours to complete the paperwork.
Today I got an official jury summons... For August 2nd. What a terrible choice of days. On that day, two of my new programmers are supposed to show up and I'm supposed to start training them. So uh, I'll just... Improvise, or something.
I'm going to go in, pray they don't like me, and then get out. Otherwise things are going to get rather complicated, and I'll probably go insane.
I couldn't think of a worse day in the next month for this to fall on.
Oh, wait, yeah I can. August 20th would definitely be worse.
Yesterday, I got a letter from some California income tax
person. "That's funny," I mumbled. "I thought I wanted my
$80 refund to be direct-deposited?" So I ripped open the
envelope, and inside I found what seemed to be a check, but
I wasn't sure, because it included lines named "balance" and
"total payments". After staring at it for awhile, and
listening to the phone message explaining what they'd done,
and thinking about how taxes worked, in the hopes of
figuring out whether it was a bill or a check, I finally
determined that it was a check. The letter claimed that
they didn't direct deposit my refund because they'd made an
adjustment to my refund, because I'd mis-added something.
They claimed that my total tax liability for the year was
$161, and that I'd paid $2646.02, so they gave me a
refund of $2485.02 instead of the $80 I was expecting.
My total income last year was only $14,000. There's
no way I paid $2646.02 to the state. I'm pretty sure I didn't even pay that much in federal taxes. I just don't believe it. But since I can't find my W-2 form to verify how much I actually paid the state, I guess I'll just drop the money into my savings account until they
notice. It could take them years, but in the mean time I
might make up to $12 in interest! Wow, that'd be swell!
This morning I awoke to a gentle rapping on my apartment door. Upon opening my apartment door, there stood a mailman with a package obviously from my mom (obvious because it was in an avon box). So I signed for my roommate's backpack after poking around the table for the pink slip that had been left the day before, because yesterday the mailman apparently couldn't get past the "high security" of my apartment building (if you call the ringer on the door not working and no college student being up before noon "security").
But then it occured to me that today's Sunday. And Easter, if you go in for that sort of thing. It's nice to see the USPS not being useless occasionally, but I guess if you pay $30 to have a package delivered in a timely fashion, you get what you pay for.
I've commented on the look of the IRS web site at least twice before, and today a crowd of my co-workers gathered around a computer dishing out scathing comments about the stie that I wouldn't imagine saying. A few notable ones that stuck in my head were "This looks like my 3rd grade classes web site!" and "Look at that globe spin!" Sure, so those comments are tame, but while I don't think the site is very good, I didn't think it was that bad. It's got a consistant look, and it's got a consistant (though too deep) navigation structure. As a site, I don't think it fails. I just think the graphic design is lacking. Thankfully, they offer a text only version of the site now. Saved by a government accessibility initiative! In other news, my tax return was deposited directly into my account last week. Yay for turning in taxes early with a phone call. Yay for getting my tax return in something like two weeks. Yay for my tax return getting sucked into the black hole known as "living expenses."
I just filed my (federal) taxes using the IRS telefile thingy. It was reasonably easy to use, and for those with simple finances (like me), it should make for a quick tax return. In theory. Until they destroy me for forgetting something stupid. But it's not like I made enough money to cause them any consternation anyway.
The telefile was easy to use, but I think I would have preferred a web based form secured with ssl and so on. Then my ear wouldn't be sore right now. A web based solution using ssl should be even more secure than the phone solution, but I guess they just don't want to do it. There's software to do an e-file, but I don't want to buy software. That's not cool at all. And besides, I'd already computed all the numbers, so I just needed to enter the values. I didn't need something to compute numbers for me (even if that's what Telefile did).
Oh, and the IRS Website still looks like a parody site. It just doesn't look... serious. Oh well.
This is a good article talking about the fact that California's Power Problems aren't because Californians are Power Gluttons. My, that's reassuring. So if we're doing so good on electrical use per capita, then why are we having this power crisis? Well, a former co-worker tells me that it's because PG&E are dumbasses. More precisely, they sold old power plants and didn't build new ones. Further, he told me that if something extreme didn't happen soon, then this "crisis" is going to go on for years. Oh, that ain't good.
Not only is this article a
great general discussion of the California power crisis and the dark
days that lie ahead, but it also features the phrase "Whistling in the
dark," which I can only assume was in reference to TMBG. If the
lights go out then you can only do what you know how to do well, and
that's be you. Be what you're like. Be like yourself. And so I'm having
a wonderful time but I'd rather be whistling in the dark.
And as chance would have it, I was listening to a bootleg of one of TMBG's Flood Shows when I read that article.