Top 10 favorite books of all-time

This is my top 10 list of favorite books of all-time, grown-up edition, fiction category:

Anna Karenina: long and lush and lovely.
Atlas Shrugged: Dagny Taggart kicks ass.
The Awakening: perhaps my favorite of all time.
Crime & Punishment: gripping.
Crossing to Safety: I [heart] Wallace Stegner.
The Dharma Bums: makes me want to run off to the mountains right now!
Gone with the Wind: ignore the cheesy cover, there's more tot his book than a silly love story.
Lolita: best opening sequence ever.
Pride & Prejudice: no silly thing I could write here would do this book justice.
The Sun Also Rises: makes me want to fight a war, become and alchoholic, and move to Paris in only 251 pages!

Now that I've written that list, all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and read those books. Drat this need to get things done! Why can't I be retired now?

Code red alert

Something's been going on with the server so you might have problems accessing the site. I blame Code Reds I and II for generally messing up all things Internet.

Time passes, but geeks never change

We all know that history repeats itself, but it's amazing how quickly it does so. I'm reading The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder right now and I'm noticing lots of parallels between the race to build minicomputers and a lot of the dot-com hype and excitement of the past few years. Two thumbs up for this book, at least the first 112 pages.

We would like to become the Marchioness Megnut

Are you, or is someone you know, a discerning Anglophile? Then why not pick up one of those fancy-pants English titles? Now you, or one of your estimation seeking friends, can be known as Lady or Lord Wessexborough-on-Suttondorsetbury-Thames, or some such nonsense. I've always been partial to Viscountess and Marchioness myself, so if you're looking for a way to give something back to me, after all I've "given" you through this site, why not consider bestowing upon me (for the low low fee of only £195) the title Marchioness Megnut?

Straight outta Brookline

Ah, there's nothing like having the mp3 player on shuffle, one can go straight from Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy to Straight Outta Compton.

Behind the Music has become one of my favorite TV shows to watch when I just feel like sitting in front of the TV and doing nothing. Back-to-back episodes on Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre gave me a newfound appreciation for their music. While I've always been a pretty big rap fan, I fell out of it when all the gansta misogynist stuff took off. Refreshing alternatives like The Pharcyde were rare and I found myself replaying older favorites like De La Soul and BDP. Hearing both Dre and Snoop talk about their lives was pretty interesting, and showed that both have grown and matured since the days of "Doggie Style" and "The Chronic." So I've added them into my rotation and I'm trying not to get too pissed off by the lyrics. [Update: it's not easy. Not easy at all. Ugh.]

Strange, this affinity I had for rap and hip-hop back in the day. I was talking about NWA with Jason at lunch and was telling him that when "Fuck tha Police" came out, I thought it was incredible. It resonated with me, this middle-class white girl who'd seen one gun in her life, for some reason. It was more than music, it was an important political statement, and I really believed The Man needed to hear it. Of course, I was quite a revolutionary back then, what with my communist tendencies and all. I think during the past ten years, I've forgotten some of those important beliefs. I've gotten more complacent as I've gotten older. And I don't think that's such a good thing.

Oliver is definitely the weakest link

Dare I admit it? I almost can't, but I must: the Brady Kids are going to be on the Weakest Link with Carol and cousin Oliver in September and I'm so going to watch it. The Brady Bunch was one of my favorite TV shows when I was growing up. Mom always said...

Sh-boom sh-boom

All I can tell you is that today I realized my obsession with the song Sh-Boom by the Crew Cuts. I can offer no explanation for this, only that the mp3 is on repeat in my player and I am singing along.

Poisoned by my home?

I feel terrible. Nauseated. Off. Unwell. Not quite right. I suspect I've been poisoned, slightly. I awoke in the middle of the night feeling like I was going to throw up and actually got out of bed to head towards the bathroom when I nearly stepped in a pile of cat puke. Then I realized that my cat was still throwing up in the living room. Very odd. I went into the kitchen to make sure the stove wasn't leaking gas and poked around a little looking for the source of our illness. Turned up nothing. Went back to bed. Rose this morning feeling only slightly better. The cat seems fine. I left him sleeping on the sofa and went to the office, determined to be free of the poisonous airs of the house.

Congrats to rcb and jjg

Congratulations to Jesse and Rebecca who were married yesterday. May you enjoy a lifetime of happiness together.

Access Metafilter by IP

If you're like me and affected by the DSL outage that killed Matt's nameserver and is making it impossible for you to access MetaFilter, you can also be like me and access MetaFilter by its IP address until the DNS issue is resolved:

The importance of fact checking

Articles like this one, arguing about the importance of the Levy-Condit affair, lose their credibility when they refer to Nantucket, MA as "Nantucket, Conn." Perhaps they should buy their fact checker a map?

More on the rebate debate

Well there's a nice little discussion going on over at MetaFilter inspired by my tax rebate post below. I invite you to add your thoughts. Also I'd like to clarify a bit about what I wrote yesterday. I don't have a problem really with the way the tax relief works. It makes sense to me. Contrary to the belief of some of my readers, I do understand the way income tax works in the United States, and economics for that matter.

What bothers me is how this whole story has been twisted around. Dawn followed up yesterday with another great link to the IRS's 2001 Advance Payments Information page which states,

The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 approved by Congress and signed by President Bush directs the Treasury to send checks to most income taxpayers this year, giving them an advance payment of a 2001 tax credit.

So why isn't it referred to like this in the media? Why is everyone pushing this as a rebate and making it sound like some sort of refund? Fucking politics. Fucking media. You know what's funny though? lead the rankings of fastest growing domain ending July 22, 2001 according to Neilsen/NetRatings and 58% of the site's audience visited the page on tax relief, according to this ZDNet article.

Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes? Well it was better than The Score, but it was no, um, no (grasping to recall some movie viewed recently at the theatre that was actually good, but none come to mind, none! What is it with movies this year? Huh? They all majorly nearly-suck. There's nothing just plain incredible. And to think, in '99 in the span of a few weeks I saw "Fight Club," "American Beauty," and "Being John Malkovich." Jesus, if I could see one move of that calibre this summer I'd be psyched.) So PotA was kinda cool with its effects and makeup but the dialogue was just terrible. And character development and film junk like that was entirely absent. And I'd hoped to be a little scared of apes during it, but I wasn't. Jesus I hope Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is good. The preview looked damn funny, and I love Kevin Smith, and Jason Lee is reprising his role as Brody Bruce, so it's got to be good, right? Right? Please? Please let there be one good movie this summer.

Beware the non-rebate tax rebate

Astute megnut reader Dawn V. sends in this article explaining the tax "rebate" is, in actuality, an advance on one's 2001 tax obligation. Curious, I pulled out the notice I'd received from the IRS and realized something: Nowhere does the term "rebate" appear on the page. It refers to the check I'll receive as, "tax relief," and says it is based on information I submitted on my 2000 return. But it does not say it's a rebate on taxes I paid in 2000, which was my understanding. So where did this "rebate" idea come from?

It looks like articles about the plan use the word "rebate" to explain the "tax relief," such as this one in the Washington Post (from Google's cache since the original URL's dead on the Post's site). The Street also calls it a "rebate" and says "The last time the government cut rebate checks was 1975," referring to the Tax Reduction Act of 1975:

The Tax Reduction Act of 1975 was signed into law on March 29, 1975, in the midst of the deepest recession in postwar history. Taxpayers received a 10 percent 'refund' on their 1974 taxes, with a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $200. Checks were mailed out in the second quarter of 1975. ¹

But if you look at the way the 1975 plan worked, it actually was a refund on taxes paid, not an advance on monies to be paid. Perhaps this is a source of the confusion: defines rebate as,

A deduction from an amount to be paid or a return of part of an amount given in payment.

So while you or I assume rebate means "return of a part of an amount given in payment," i.e. a refund on taxes paid in 2000, the media and the government means, "[a] deduction from an amount to be paid," i.e. an advance on your refund for 2001. That's some tricky cash-flow shit, yo.

Imagine one day at work your boss says, "You've been working so hard, I'm going to give you a bonus. Here's $300."

"Thanks!" you say, pocketing the cash.

"No problem," s/he replies, "Oh, and your next paycheck will be $300 less."

This money isn't money being refunded to from taxes you've already paid. It is simply money you were going to get nine months from now when you filed your 2001 tax return.

Do something with your tax rebate

If you're one of the folks receiving the tax rebate from the government this month, and you've been wondering what to do with the cash, consider this: Give For Change, a website which allows you to make "online donations to causes you care about," will match your $300 or $600 donation (up to a million dollars) to any non-profit. If you'd been considering donating your refund, this looks like a great way to increase the impact of your gesture.

A longer review of The Score

Several folks have written asking why they shouldn't see The Score so I shall direct you to this New York Times review which explains it all much better than I could.

Considering that movie ticket prices are up to $10 at some theatres now, one is forced to be a bit choosier about the films one sees. At least, if one is me and attempting to be fiscally responsible.

Do not waste your time

Dear readers,

A tidbit of advice: under no circumstance should you see The Score.

Yours always,

I need to see V

Cruel DVD masters, why must you mess with me so? V is out on DVD and I watched it on Saturday. It was just as good as I'd remembered it being: frozen arms and annoying teenage girls and aliens who aren't what they seem. And as the end neared, I was hooked. What will happen to these earthlings? Will their Resistance succeed? Why of course the answers are available in the sequel, V the Final Battle, but that's not out on DVD! long will I have to wait to see the birth of the twins? And see our great victory over those nefarious slimy aliens?

Sigur Rós is pretty good

You know what? This Sigur Rós CD is pretty good. I'd heard good things from folks in the know, but now I'm actually listening to it, and I must concur. It's nice to listen to music with headphones again, it's such a different experience than listening through speakers. It's much more enveloping and the music becomes the focal point when no other sounds distract. This current song (Starálfur) sounds like it could be the soundtrack in some post-apocalyptic futuristic movie, something taking place when we no longer speak English and the world is decimated by wars, yet somehow there's a green field that's survived it all, with a young sapling reaching upwards, and that's where the camera zooms in on our heroes and this song plays in the background. Or something. I don't know. Work with me here.

The lunar landing anniversary

image from NASA press kit for Apollo 11
Today is the 32nd anniversary of the first lunar landing. I know I've been yammering on and on about the moon this week, but it's just so fascinating to me. And today I'm going to imagine what it must have been like to be inside the LM the moment after it landed, after the descent engine has shut down, knowing that whatever happened next, we'd landed on the moon. I'm going to imagine looking out that small window into the Sea of Tranquility, seeing the pockmarked crust and the dusty surface and the view of Earth off in the distance and I'm going to imagine that I've landed on the moon.

In all my messing around on NASA's servers this is my favorite find so far: Press Kit for Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission. It's in PDF and it's 3.23 MB so it will take a while to load, but it's filled with great details about the mission and includes terms like "Translunar Injection." Now if that's not a band name waiting to be snagged, I don't know what is.

On a less lunar note, it's back to nearly winter-like weather here in San Francisco. Foggy, cold, and I've got the heat on full-blast. Crikey, I need a trip back east where it's warm.

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