I stumbled onto a huge corner of the Internet. Apparently many folks have decided to make money by reviewing Blinkist and its variations. There must be big affiliate links paid on this. Does anyone here use Blinkist and have any advice? Useful app or just a money-making craze?

I watched DHH appear on The Claman Countdown just before the closing bell today. Liz basically called him a drama queen. He laughed & agreed. Then talked about the Epic vs Apple case, which he says is turning out NOT to be a slam dunk for Apple. Epic has presented a good case.

Here’s an interesting article about a woman who has been following a life path similar to my own: a passion for great orchestral music, followed by work as an income tax preparer, a great job with very stable income and fun work for smart people.

The IRS Is in Big Trouble and It's Only Getting Worse

First, the IRS had the same problems that ordinary businesses encountered with covid lockdowns. They had to shut down their offices too in 2020 to limit the spread of the virus.

But the IRS gets a huge amount of mail, which they normally are processing constantly, especially depositing checks to fund the government. But the staff was at home for months, with the mail just piling up in closets.

And then the politicians hit on the brilliant idea to send out tons of free money to we the people to help get everyone through the pandemic. And of course they assigned this new task that had never been done before to the Treasury Department, that is the IRS, to get it done. And of course this task was assigned the highest priority of all.

The IRS has a lot of procedures for doing its routine tasks, like collecting tax money, doing tax audits and such. But they had NO procedures for rushing free money out to we the people. And the IRS has been famous for years for having antiquated computers and a patchwork of various computer systems that don’t work well together in any modern sort of way.

On top of that, the IRS operating budget has been shrinking for many many years. So the staff had been getting smaller for a long time and suddenly the most urgent task in the government gets dumped in their laps, all to be done on top of their usual huge work load, that is, as soon as they return from hiding from the pandemic at their homes.

Of course we the people like it this way. Keep the IRS busy and they won’t have time to audit our returns and collect more money. The percentage of returns that actually gets audited has been dropping significantly for years. But now they also didn’t have time to process 2019 tax returns and send out refunds. They were sitting unopened in those closets. I have many clients who have not received their 2019 tax refunds yet.

To their credit, I haven’t heard any complaints from anyone at the IRS about the impossible job they have been given. This is common for accounting staffs in government and businesses all over the country. They are doing highly skilled work, little understood by the non-accounting staff who have very little clue about what they do. The usual idea is that they all have computers and all they have to do is push a button, right?

As for the Getting Worse part, you may have noticed that in the last week Biden has begun to try to sell his latest spending spree with the idea that the IRS will be auditing a ton of the fat cats to bring in a lot more money to fund all these day dreams. He’s been a politician in Washington for over 50 years, never running a real business and never seeing any of the actual mechanics of an essential and under appreciated activity like the IRS. They’re not even able to keep up with their usual job of collecting the tax money, because of their new high priority task of sending out all the free money. And now he’s also pitching the idea of sending out even more free money regularly to families with young kids. It is so easy to imagine utopias in the mind, but it’s a lot harder to actually get something accomplished in the real world.

As of Friday (yesterday) the IRS reported that as of April 30, they had a backlog of 17.1 million unprocessed individual income tax returns (Forms 1040). The IRS now has a lot of complicated new things it must check, as now they must confirm that those who did not receive all their free money during the pandemic are supposed to get that as an extra credit after they file their returns. No problem, just add it to the To Do list of the IRS.

I will end with an amazing fact reported on Friday in the report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. They reported that the “IRS faces staffing challenges, and that its ability to resolve its backlogs is hindered by the fact that many printers and copiers are not working.” That’s right, many printers and copiers are not working!! See what I mean?

To Wait Around

I could never understand why anyone would ever agree to be the Vice President of the United States; four years, or even eight, completely wasted. Absolutely nothing of any consequence ever accomplished! I guess that’s why I ended up in a line of work where there was always work to be done every day; not hard work, but work that required one to really pay attention, to be in the moment and think clearly at all times, where there was always a clear right answer.

It must have been torture for him, to wait around for a clearly superior man, and one who didn’t ever let him forget it. “You don’t have do this, Joe, you really don’t.โ€ Surely that’s at the root of his trying so hard to do something really important, really soon. He’s old, but he hasn’t forgotten the dismissive condescension. He will never forget and one day he’ll be big in the history books, not for killing 15 people, but for something really big, really good, which would have made his mother very proud.

Like most before her, she has begun to disappear from the scene, to wait out her time of obscurity and irrelevance, but with her own unique twist of always standing behind and a little to the right of the President at public events. Maybe she could look dignified in a way that would dress up this very ordinary, unaccomplished and very old man at least a little bit. She could wait. She wanted to be ready and very near by when the time came.

I wonder whether LBJ knew he had to be ready that dark day in Dallas, to be sworn in at two thirty-eight? Was he really the type to wait around, to accomplish nothing at all?

The Whole Earth Catalog was the first HowtoPedia I ever owned. First published in 1968 by Stewart Brand, it preceded the WWW by nearly two decades. It had no hypertext, but was a huge game changer, one of the greatest achievements of the 1960’s.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Super Bowl.
I found this article about Springsteen really interesting… “trying to do this thing for the greater good,” was how we chose to act decades ago, right after I got out of grad school. Haven’t heard it much lately!

Biden: Hunter is the smartest guy he knows. Is that intended to reassure us?! Hunter dropped his laptop off for repair, with lots of emails about his business in plain text. Then he just abandoned it! This guy is smarter than anyone Biden is nominating for top jobs in the gov’t?

Could some folks with Apple devices do an image search with an Apple search engine for “China president” or “Xi Jinping.” I heard that Apple does not include those images in their search results. I’d like to confirm whether that is right or not. I have only Win & Android. TIA.

It occurs to me there are public health officials who thought they would be only doing good for people in their jobs. And now they are being forced to shut businesses down because of political fights! Some must be horrified. How did they get stuck in the middle of such insanity?

It’s 3 am & 28ยฐF outside. My weather app has been reporting snow flurries for an hour or so. Just looked out the window & see snow on the sidewalk & the side of the road, none accumulated on the grass. It’s our first snow of this winter. Maybe we’ll have more by morning. ๐ŸŒจ โ˜ƒ ๐Ÿ˜

Wow, I just heard the news that HP has announced that they are moving their headquarters out of Silicon Valley (San Jose) to Houston. I made that decision to get the hell out of CA in Oct 2017, after living & working there for 50 years. I was early in a flood out of the state! ๐Ÿƒ

We started the day today with tiny snow barely visible in the sky, right at 32ยฐ F. So 30 Nov 2020 is our first day of snow, but I don’t think they’ll need to get the snow plows out. We have had snow in Oct & much earlier in Nov in the past. We have had no really cold temps yet.

Dave Winer linked to this article about why this writer decided to live in Berkeley. It makes some good points about the advantages of college towns. I started my 50 year residency in California there. It was cool, but I only stayed two years. I’m glad to be back in Illinois.

โ€œYou know, the one thing I will say about Donald Trump. He doesnโ€™t talk down to anybody. He is who he is, but he doesnโ€™t talk down to anyone. And … there is a certain voter out there because of that who identifies with him and appreciates him.โ€ Rep. Elissa Slotkin (Dem - MI)

Thursday night Justice Alito gave the Keynote Address to the Federalist Society.

He said:ย 
To quote a popular Nobel laureate;
“It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”

Of course he was quoting Bob Dylan’s 1997 song, Not Dark Yet.
๐ŸŽธ ๐ŸŽถ