Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On free speech (a response to Roundhead)

I was surprised to see that a fellow Salon.com reads came over to my blog and posted a response to my comments on Salon in response to Amanda Marcotte article Why I had to quit the John Edwards campaign. In my comments, I took exception to claim that other reader's offense to Marcotte's comments about the Holy Spirit were justification for the threats of violence she received.

I had been laboring under the delusion that the crowd that reads Salon were uniformly smart enough to get their facts straight. The key fact in this incidient is that Marcotte was NOT fired by the Edwards campaign. She quit the campaign both because she felt she was becoming a distraction to the Edwards campaign AND the threats made against her. Those who thought she got what she deserved uniformly overlooked the fact that Marcotte quite the campaign and were either implictly or explictly condoning the actions of the right wing virtual lynch mob.

Now we come to Roundhead's comments:

With regard to their free speech rights, they haven’t been violated. One of them is free to publish in Salon, and I wonder if that’s a liberty granted to her opponents?

The threats of the violence directed at Marcotte were certainly intended to discourage her from expressing herself. I'm glad these abominal actions did not discourage Marcotte from publishing in Salon. Her opponents are free to publish to anywhere that will have them and I most strongly condemn anyone who would threaten them. It is unfortunate they are enough to cause Marcotte to leave the Edward's campaign.

Roundhound goes on to ask me:

But since you are so enraged by about what you call “religious bigots”, I’m sure you were at the forefront of the campaign to ensure that certain cartoonists in Denmark to have the freedom to, as you put it, offend anyone they wish to?

I fully support the right of the Danish publication to publish those cartoons. In a society with freedom of expression, there is guarantee that someone will say something that offends you. Cheney constantly offends me with both with deceipt and his underhanded slanders against Democrats. People who claim I'm going the hell for not believing in the right God(s) really offend me. Even worse, are the intolerant bigots like Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberson who claimed 9/11 was God's retribution for America's tolerlance of gays. I happily accept that having to tolerate this odious speech is the price I pay for freedom of expression. Those who think certain types of speech offensive to them merits a special response either by the government or by lynch mobs, virtual or otherwise, are unpatriotic because they are undermining the ideals of this country.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Goodbye TurboTax

After using TurboTax for 10 years, I've had enough. This year's version is terrible. I tried to start my taxes this morning and had nothing but trouble:
  • The automatic updates failed. Had to download the manual updater. Reviews on Amazon indicate this a common problem.
  • When I tried to import some information from a brokerage, I got a "not available right now, try again later" message. I tried again and it worked. I think I mistyped my password the first time. The error messages should tell you the real problem.
  • The basis calculation for mutual fund sales is completely broken. I had to enter it 3 different ways to get Turbo Tax to recognize the basis is not zero. The "Assist Me" option seemed like the easy one but it does not let you enter the data in the form you get it from brokerage. It insists on a date for each purchase lot which is a nightmare with reinvestments then it wants the average cost basis per share. My statement has average cost for the entire sale. It's easy to convert but I shouldn't have to when I plunked down $75 bucks for the program.

    Even after conversion, the actual tax form still showed 0 for the basis. I noticed this problem since TurboTax's mistake was causing the tax bill indicator to be way to large. It's disturbing that if the amount in question had been smaller, I might not have noticed and paid too much tax. So I tried enter it myself and if you tell TurboTax the shares were purchased on "multiple dates" and enter the information for costs, it still marks the basis as zero. I finally got it take the basis if said one date purchase datawhich would mean I was submitting bogus tax information. What's even more infuriating is that entering "various" for the dates doesn't work even though my understanding is that the IRS is fine with grouping multiple purchases into one sale if you respect the long term / short term boundary.

After all this I've lost confidence in TurboTax and am switching to TaxCut. The last think is I need is audit because I used piece of tax software that is very buggy. The good news is that TaxCut is much cheaper and I don't have spend half hour trying figure out which the zillion different additions I need like I do with TurboTax. I very glad TaxCut released a Mac version this year.