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Dr. Bell on computers and politics

I can see now that it wil be tough to keep the Blue Skunk apolitical this year. I thought this observation by Texas library professor Mary Ann Bell on her Wanderings blog was rich: occurred to me that the MAC vs PC preference discussion is somewhat analogous to today's political conundrum. Is it just me or does Obama seem like a Mac and Hillary more like a PC? Playing around with this idea I came up with several reasons: 

* Very nicely packaged
* Stylish
* Engaging and appealing
* Easy to like

* Businesslike
* Long history of getting things done
* Practical
* Hardworking

McCain? There my analogy breaks down. I am not sure what to compare him to!

McCain? A 386 PC running Windows 95? 

Oh, welcome back from the Dark Side, Mary Ann! 


Tax prep weekend

My mantra this weekend has been:

It's good to have income on which to pay taxes.
It's good to have income on which to pay taxes.
It's good to have income on which to pay taxes.

And it is. While preparing stuff for my tax preparer is a big pain in the patootie, I have always been thankful that I have a good job and a decent income. I am not real crazy about how many of my tax dollars are spent, but I've never grumbled that taxes are too high. Yes, I am one of those LIBERALS who believe that good schools, roads, fire and police protection, taking care of those who can't take care of themselves, etc. are more important than a bigger boat, a fancier vacation or leaving behind a vast inheritance (Sorry, kids).

What has struck me this year as I semble, sort and staple is just how many of my financial records have moved online. Via the Internet, I now get:

  • My bank statements, including a record of all my electronic bill paying
  • My mortgage information 
  • My W9 form from school
  • My credit card statements
  • My electric and gas bills
  • My insurance information

I am not complaining - I LIKE this. (Although it doesn't feel very private.)

My goal for next year's tax prep day might be to be totally paperless. This would mean scanning beau coup receipts, I suppose, but it's doable.

Oh, and is there a portal similar to iGoogle for one's financial dealings?


First 1040 - 1913. 4 pages. According to Professor Perry's interesting post here.


The 4th R trademark

stop4thr.jpgOne of the more interesting e-mails (spams? scams?) I've received lately:

Dear Sir,

We are the proprietor of the Fourth R trademark (registration no. 1763375).

Widespread use of the Fourth R trade mark has been made, to the extent that this trademark has acquired an extensive reputation and goodwill. The Fourth R trademark is, accordingly, also a well-known mark for all relevant purposes of trademark law.

It has come to our attention that you are using the 4th R trademark.

This trademark is confusingly and/or deceptively similar to our Fourth R trademark and also constitutes a reproduction or imitation thereof.

In the circumstances, your use of the 4th R trademark will constitute an infringement of our registered and common law rights.

In the circumstances, we demand that you immediately:

1.    Cease all use of the trademark 4th R;

2.    Deliver-up for destruction all material to which the 4th R trademark or any other mark confusingly or deceptively similar to our trademark has been applied;

3.    Withdraw, cancel and/or delete any corporate names, domain names, trademark applications and/or trademark registrations for or including the 4th R trademark;

4.    Undertake, in writing, never in future to make any use of the 4th R trademark, whether within any corporate name, trading name, trading style, domain name or otherwise.

We await to hear from you by no later than close of business on March 31st, 2008.

This is written without prejudice to our rights, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.

Robert McCauley
President, Fourth R Inc.
11410 NE  124th Street  #142
Kirkland, WA  98034
(425) 765-9969

I did indeed title a column "The 4th R" (not Fourth R) once upon a time when writing about Research. But I'm not alone in using this term. A Google search of "4th R" turned up 14,400,000 hits.

And what were those "4th Rs?"  Recreation, Religion, human Rights, aRt, Recycling... well, you get the idea. My guess is horticulturists may see Raspberries as the 4th R - following Rhubarb, Radishes, and Radicchio. It's not exactly a novel concept.

I am not sure what exactly McCauley hopes to get from this e-mail except ill-will. Not exactly something one who hopes to sell to education wants, yah'd think.

If "4th R" can be trademarked, I can trademark "Dear Sir," dontcha think?  Watch it, letter writers!