Playing the Blame Game

I’m assuming that at least two out of the three people that read this website know that I’m slightly into video games. Just a little. For the third… well… there’s actually a category here called “Games” and I talk about them a lot – try to keep up. As for the rest of you, I’ll just assume you stumbled onto this site by googling ‘balki’ or ‘broken leg’ (seriously, those are my top two search results referring people to this site)

I do have a point here, I’m just high on gun powder. (No really, I was at the gun range tonight) Finally! Someone gets it. Ok, so the end of the article strays a little from video games and goes onto blaming McDonalds for your kid being fat but the gist of it is pretty dead on. Jack Thompson is a media whore and video games are not destroying our children. If your child does something stupid, asinine, destructive, disrespectful, and/or illegal – take a good hard look in the mirror before you start looking for something to blame. I played more than my fair share of Doom, Duke Nukem, and Quake in my younger days – I never once thought about shooting up my school.

Not-so-funnily enough, while Thompson’s misinfomation-laced pronouncements claim that the shooter — Seung-Hui Cho — had a passion for violent video games, a governor-ordered review of that horrific incident found no connection whatsoever with games. Instead, what the review panel found was a young man with a long history of psychiatric illness and a student who fell through the cracks of a deeply flawed mental health system. In fact, according to the the extensive 260-page report, it’s unclear if Cho — who was passionate about books (gasp!) and not video games — ever played anything more aggressive than the kid-friendly “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

When did everyone stop taking responsibility for themselves (or their children) and start looking for crap to blame?!  I first starting to notice it when “D&D” was responsible for anything bad that happened.  Anyone remember that?  Maybe we should blame 9/11 on Microsoft’s Flight Simulator.

“Why did I run from the cops?  Well, I watched too much Dukes of Hazzard when I was a kid, and thought I could jump a bridge and hide my car behind a tree”  And G.I. Joe taught me that I could just do cart-wheels and no bullets would touch me.”

Taxes Are Stupid

Ok, where’s the flat-tax idea again?  So doing my taxes with a Killians on the desk is probably not my best move ever, but let me just vent for a moment ….

A few years ago when I bought my house, I didn’t have 20% to put down on it.  I know, bad move on my part, but whatever.  When I was looking at financing options, I decided to not get too complex with it, do one mortgage and deal with the PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)  Now a friend of mine did one of the more convoluted “negative points” deals where he’d have a higher interest rate but wouldn’t pay any PMI.  For those of you unaware, PMI is something you pay the bank (usually about $100 / month) for no good damn reason.  It’s crap, it really is.  It’s insurance you pay for the bank in case you default on your loan.  You pay it until you have 20% equity in your house.  I guess the theory at that point is that at that point they can repo your house and at least break even by selling it.  PMI does me as the borrow no good.  Does nothing for me.  I could have gone the higher interest rate route – at least interest I could deduct from my taxes at the end of the year.  I did the math (it actually involved a rather large Excel spreadsheet) and decided that I’d be better off with the lower interest rate but paying the the PMI.  As a bonus, there were rumors of Congress actually passing a law that would allow borrowers like myself to deduct PMI as well.  This may surprise you, but it was actually the lenders that lobbied for this – they were losing money because people were creatively financing loans – negative points, 80/20 loans, etc.  So hey, if that passes, bonus for me, right?  Well it passed, but no bonus for me.  In a crock-of-shit move to beat all crock-of-shit moves, the law that got passed at the end of 2006 applies only to mortgages originating on 2007.  Yes, because I bought my house a year earlier I get no benefits from that law.  I paid the same PMI for the same reasons as everyone who bought a house in 2007, they can deduct it from their taxes, I can’t.  Horse shit, (as my father has always been found of saying) complete horse shit.  Yes mother, sorry for the language… I’m angry and “crap” just doesn’t convey exactly my level of discontent.  Blame dad.

So the other “Are-you-freakin-kidding-me?!?” moment comes when it’s time to “e-file”  (leaving the f-bomb out because I’m not that angry about this part and that would cause my mother to send me an email chastising  me for my lack of less-offensive vocabulary)   Someone explain to me why me “e-filing” should cost me money?!  I could print and mail my return to the IRS – it would cost me thirty-some cents (yes, I actually don’t know what a stamp costs these days – I don’t mail anything) and in the process kill a good sized tree, increase carbon emissions of the USPS, and cause some poor sap making too much money to enter all my information into the IRS’s big computers.  Inefficient and costly.  However, if I “e-file” then it just goes right into the IRS’s big computers saving everyone time/money and better for the environment.  But it costs me $20.  What is this $20 for?!  I already gave H&R Block $40 for the stupid program – they should send it to the IRS for me for that price.  Has the USPS lobbied against e-filing?!  The IRS should be thanking me for e-filing, I’m saving them time and less paper they have to shred.  I already have a pile of papers on my desk – various W2s, 1099INTs, 1099Bs, 1098s, etc.  Why create more waste by printing everything I’ve done electronically just to mail it in so the IRS can convert it all back to electronic??  I’m confused.  And upset by this extra $20 I have to spend.  You want my money?  At least make it easy and efficient for me to give it to you (or get back what you owe me).  Next thing you know they’ll charge you extra to direct deposit your refund into your checking account.  Jerks.  I have to give it to Ohio – they actually have their “I-File” website setup – you can fill out all the forms and submit your tax information – get this: for free.  Yes, they will allow you to get your return faster and easier, and in exchange all you have to do is save them time and money by entering your information on a website.  Brilliant.  Oh, but H&R Block want another $20 to e-file your Ohio state return for you.  How about this:  The state tax departments and the IRS get together with the TurboTax and H&R Block people of the world and say “Hey, let your customers e-file for free, and we’ll go ahead and give you the $20 it’ll cost us to process it”  Win/win.  Am I asking too much?

Ok… I feel better.  Maybe later this week I’ll actually get back to some of the other stuff I normally do… I haven’t done a movie or game review in awhile.  And Eastern Promises was actually a pretty good movie.  Pirates : At World’s End wasn’t.  More on that, and maybe my newfound Wii.  I’m tired of the election crap already… and the writer’s strike.  Let’s just elect the writer’s guild for president and call it a day.  Man… I really should just have my own country – I’m a problem solver.