Death and Taxes

I guess you could call it a pre-midlife crisis. With the prospect of turning forty looming on the horizon, I find myself thinking admittedly morbid thoughts; pondering things like death and taxes. Such was my state of mind when I stumbled upon the Real Age Calculator at Prevent Disease. This nifty little tool can help you calculate both your real age and your life expectancy, based on your overall living habits, health history, and genetic tendency for disease.

It’s fairly simple, though the calculation behind the scenes is not. Simply fill our a brief questionairre (about 30 questions) and it will calculate your current “real” age and tell you approximately how long you’ll be staying with us. By slightly tweaking your answers, you can get a fairly accurate picture of the things you need to do to live healthier now and longer later. Ultimately, however, the answers are already known by all of us: improve your diet and increase your exercise and you’ll be healthier, happier, and live longer. Which brings me to taxes…

Now that we’re all going to be living to a hundred, it might occur to you that you’ll be paying a lot in taxes in all those years. There’s a movement afoot — and one that is gathering steam — to replace the current income tax system with a national retail sales tax. Dubbed the “Fair Tax” by the bill’s author, Congressman John Linder, the concept is straightforward: do away with all income tax withholding, allow workers to receive 100% of their pay, and charge a sales tax for all purchases. In a sense, each individual would have to opportunity to determine how much they pay in taxes based on their consumption. In many ways, the Fair Tax plan would close complicated tax loopholes and provide a level field for taxation. (Incidentally, the plan accounts for basic living expenses by providing a rebate for all citizens based on the size of their household and the calculated cost of living necessities.)

The web site is a nice collection of information about the plan, including a detailed list of frequently asked questions that is probably the best place to start if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. Aside from the FAQ, there are several sections that go into detail on how the plan will affect certain items, industries, or constituencies: senior citizens, real estate purchase, agriculture, ranching, etc. As you might imagine, a sweeping plan like this has generated quite a bit of interest on both sides of the fence. In the Rebuttal section, the authors take the time to respond to a variety of opinions to help better clarify their positions.

It appears to be an idea whose time may have come. Grass-root support is growing around the country and Congress appears to be noticing. According to the scorecard of Congressman, the bill has 6 supporters in the Senate and 60 in the House.

Definition of Marketing

I received this today and couldn’t resist sharing it:

People often ask for an explanation of “Marketing.” Well, here it is:

You’re a woman and you see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and say, “I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Direct Marketing.

You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a handsome guy. One of your friends goes up to him and pointing at you says, “She’s fantastic in bed.” That’s Advertising.

You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and get his telephone number. The next day you call and say, “Hi, I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s telemarketing.

You see a guy at a party, you straighten your dress. You walk up to him and pour him a drink. You say, “May I,” and reach up to straighten his tie, brushing your breast lightly against his arm, and then say, “By the way, I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Public Relations.

You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks up to you and says, I hear you’re fantastic in bed.” That’s Brand Recognition.

You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He fancies you, but you talk him into going home with your friend. That’s a Sales Rep.

Your friend can’t satisfy him so he calls you. That’s Tech Support.

You’re on your way to a party when you realize that there could be handsome men in all these houses you’re passing. So you climb onto the roof of one situated towards the center and shout at the top of your lungs, “I’m fantastic in bed!” That’s Junk Mail.

You are at a party, this well-built man walks up to you and gropes your breast and grabs your ass. That’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You like it, but 20 years later your attorney decides you were offended and files suit. That’s America.

A Military Approach

I’ve been reading “Don’t Know Much About History” by Kenneth C. Davis. In it, he says:

“The institution that cultivated Colin Powell, the American military, is generally credited with being the most successfully integrated institution in society.”

I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the case because the military relies solely on performance for retention and advancement. In other words, in the military, there is no affirmative action, no quotas, no agendas other than creating the best possible military people and then judging them based on their abilities.

Storm Chasing

An email crossed my desk today with a variety of photos claimed to be from Hurrican Katrina. Most of them were similar to the one at the right. If this doesn’t look like a hurricane (or the gulf coast) to you, you’re right. It’s actually a photo taken by storm chaser Mike Hollingshead in Iowa.

This sample is an amazing photo, to be sure, but if you really want to blow your socks off, visit his digital photography page. Be sure to also read his accounts of storm chasing that accompany the photos. It’s in these accounts that you can see the higher res images. Amazing stuff…