Saturday, March 21, 2009

March Madness Called Off

I wrote this to the office NCAA Bracket pool I organize. (I know they're illegal. If you feel that strongly about it, arrest me.) I happen to be in the lead, and as I try to make the points updates entertaining, I came up with the following, which a player and reader of my blog suggested I make public:

Dear March Madness participants,

President Obama believes that competition is hurting America. Because excellence and failure are incompatible with our way of life and that we all owe our national wealth and greatness to redistribution policies—and that the President’s pick to win it all, UNC, will fail miserably once they run into Big East competition—all forms of achievement and competition are hereby banned by executive order.

In response, the NCAA has suspended all competitive play in March Madness after the first round this year. That means—by way of alphabetical supremacy and the fact that, clearly, Pittsburgh would have won it all—I declare myself the winner. The Zachs will receive their second and third place monies—I haven’t decided in which order to place them yet. I may just give it to the players who didn’t fare so well in the tournament because they are so clearly helpless and deserving of other people’s money.

Oh, and please ignore all the basketball games that continue to be shown on television. The NCAA hasn’t told fans yet, but I assure you, the exhibition games you see mean nothing. All the athletes are playing for the love of sport and to make everyone feel like a winner. This also means that the “One Shining Moment” montage of excellence at the end of the tourney will more closely resemble ESPN’s weekly “Not Top 10 Plays” of gaffes, blunders and missed dunks because, well, they tried and that’s what’s important.

You will all be receiving your participation ribbons in the next 4-6 weeks via US Mail.

Sorry to do this to you after the rules were established, but that’s just how America operates now.

Have a good day and thanks for playing!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Right To Privacy Not Guaranteed By Constitution, Says Supreme Court Justice Peeking In Bathroom Window

From the Onion:

WESTON, FL—In a public ruling made this week while peering into the home of 28-year-old resident Laura Daltry, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito stated that "in no way whatsoever" is the right to privacy explicitly upheld by the U.S. Constitution.

"After careful consideration, it is this justice's finding that there is no specific mention of the right to privacy in any of the 27 amendments," Alito whispered, before furtively looking around and then jimmying Daltry's bathroom window ajar with a penknife. "A rigorous originalist interpretation of the pertinent statutory language has yielded the conclusion that privacy is not now, nor has it ever been, a federally protected liberty."

"Although modern tort law indicates four categories of privacy invasion, these amount to little more than a vague suggestion of the 'right to be left alone,'" Alito added, crawling through the narrow opening and slowly lowering himself onto Daltry's toilet tank. "Plus, if you rent a ground floor apartment, you're kind of asking for it."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I.R.S. Plans a Deduction for Madoff Victims

The Internal Revenue Service will allow victims of Bernard L. Madoff’s investment fraud to claim a tax deduction related to the bulk of their losses, the I.R.S. commissioner told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.

The commissioner, Douglas H. Shulman, told lawmakers that the agency was offering guidelines for taxpayers who are victims of losses from Ponzi schemes like Mr. Madoff’s.
For those not familiar yet, a "Ponzi" scheme is a type of scam where a hustler takes money from investors and returns money at rates at a much higher return than what would normally be earned. The way to do this is to keep drawing investors in with the promise of huge returns and paying off initial investors' dividends and withdrawals with newly invested money. As long as the operator can count on more money invested than withdrawn, the fraud can go on in perpetuity. However, when a large number of people make withdrawals and/or he runs out of investors, there is a catastrophic amount of debt and the scheme is exposed for the fraud that it is. Bernie Madoff will spend the rest of his life behind bars, with good reason, for this crime.

You see, I too have been a victim of a "Ponzi" scheme. I have been paying into this mess my entire adult life. This ridiculous scam has cost me thousands of dollars over the past 16 years. I pay money in and they tell me that I can expect a return in the future, even though I know my money goes to direct payments to others. And soon, I know the "fund" is going to be insolvent just like Madoff's and there will be no one to bail me out.

It's called Social Security.

I've been hosed by a Ponzi scheme too, damnit. I want my money back.

This year, I'm writing off FICA.