Spring cleaning

Earlier this week, I consolidated several of my legacy sites into either ethitter.com or my photoblog at i.ethitter.com. While it’s a bit sad to shudder some blogs that I’ve had for nearly a decade, they hadn’t seen new content in several years.

It’s nice to clean up around my multisite network now and then.

SiriusXM sells its subscriber list, apparently

I’ve been a SiriusXM subscriber for a long time, and even with their ever-increasing subscription fees, the company continually struggles to make money. Today I received a voicemail that helps explain how they’re still in business.

Last year, I rented a car that had an inactive Sirius radio in it. Since I was going to have the car for a few weeks, I activated its radio on my Sirius account, cancelled the subscription after I returned the vehicle, and carried on with my business. This afternoon, I received a voicemail from one of those scammy companies trying to sell extended vehicle warranties. The caller urgently needed to speak with me about my 2013 Audi Q5. I don’t own one, and I can’t see confusing a 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit with one. Sure enough, the Audi is one of the vehicles I rented in the past year, but is the only one I also added to my SiriusXM account.

Selling your customers’ personal information is one way to pay the bills, I suppose. Google does the same in exchange for free services, but at least they’re upfront about it.

Christ is Born – Merry Christmas!

From Luke chapter two, telling of the Nativity and announcement of the shepherds:

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

On this, the day our savior was born, I wish all who read this a merry and safe Christmas.

Text from the New International Version, © International Bible Society®

Christ’s Birth Foretold – Merry Christmas!

From Isaiah chapter 9, Christ’s birth and kingdom foretold:

2The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

On this, the eve of the birth of our savior, I wish all who read this a joyous and merry Christmas.

Text from the New International Version, © International Bible Society®

Taxtalk: A New Series

In the coming days, look for the first post in an occasional series called “Taxtalk.” The series will look at a variety of issues related to taxes, but will not provide advice for preparing tax filings. Instead, Taxtalk will be a sort of insider’s account of what it’s like to be a “tax professional.” The first post in the series, “Praying on Desperation,” deals with the recent settlement between the Internal Revenue Service and so-called tax-resolution firms.

To comply with Internal Revenue Service regulations as codified in Circular 230, the following disclaimer is made:

Pursuant to U.S. Treasury Department Regulations, I (we) must inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication, including any attachments and enclosures, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (1) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.

Genetic Variation Could Be Double-Edged Sword

In a study released today, genetic researchers may have discovered one reason for the high prevalence of HIV in Africa. Scientists discovered, in those of African descent, a gene variation that has protected its carriers from certain forms of malaria. Unfortunately, the same mutation may make these individuals 40% more susceptible to contracting HIV. While there are many factors that contribute to the high rate of HIV infection in Africa, this gene mutation only exacerbates the problem. The study appears in Cell Host and Microbe, a scientific journal. Links to the study and a Wall Street Journal article about it appear below.