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Comment Re:Excel & Paper (Score 1) 386

I'm sure I could have found a cheaper price, but that is what TT showed me when I checked the cost to file the returns.

The question of whether it's worth it is not simple. Since I don't get paid for my time outside work, it's primarily a question of values and emotions. The emotion involved in supporting such a parasitic business overwhelms any issues of cost. The question of why the tax code is so complicated involves a different set of parasites.

Comment Re:Prefilled, confirm by SMS (Score 2) 386

IRS has the ability to do something similar, for those with relatively simple financial situations (not for real estate tycoons). However, Intuit has lobbied against allowing them to do so, as it would kill their parasitic business. A couple of articles:

Comment Excel & Paper (Score 2) 386

I downloaded the workbook at, as I have for several years. I used a free version of TurboTax to validate the results. Once I was satisfied that I had entered everything correctly, I printed the relevant forms and hand-transcribed them to the IRS official forms. I mailed the paper forms yesterday. I try to print neatly, so that the poor transcribers (practically minimum-wage) at IRS can read the forms. In order to buy a version of TurboTax that would handle my federal and state returns, they wanted $140. I can't stand the thought of paying for the 'privelege' of filing my tax returns.

Comment Re:Orbiter (Score 2) 64

Orbiter and the work of its community of add-on developers allows (but doesn't require) the user to learn at least the following aspects of "rocket science":
  - What sort of path a rocket should take to get from a launchpad to a stable orbit
  - What sort of maneuvers a spacecraft needs to use to change from one orbit to another, e.g. to rendezvous with another spacecraft
  - How to plan a mission to the Moon, or another body in the solar system
  - How to use the gravity of one planet to shape a trajectory to another, as Voyager did for its "Grand Tour"
  - The kind of systems a spacecraft needs, and their realistic or plausible capabilities
  - The sequence of stages to build something as complex as the ISS
  - Various ways that spacecraft (winged or not) can interact with a planet's atmosphere to manage energy during re-entry or on a fly-by
And all of this is free (as in beer), a precious gift from Dr. Martin Schweiger and the many other developers who have contributed uncounted hours of their time. See also the community's forum at

Comment I got similar treatment from Amazon (Score 4, Insightful) 332

In my book "The Making of 'I Saw Them Ride Away'" I mentioned the great help that Amazon, and their subsidiary CreateSpace, had been in enabling the publication of my Great-Grandfather's memoir. When I submitted the manuscript for format checking, it was rejected because it mentioned "". I had to eliminate a very complimentary sentence, at their own insistence.

I'm sure the policy makes sense to someone.


Simulation of Close Asteroid Fly-By 148

c0mpliant writes "NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have released a simulation of the path of an asteroid, named Apophis, that will come very close to Earth in 2029 — the closest predicted approach since humans have monitored for such heavenly bodies. The asteroid caused a bit of a scare when astronomers first announced that it would enter Earth's neighborhood some time in the future. However, since that announcement in 2004, more recent calculations have put the odds of collision at 1 in 250,000."

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