APRIL 23, 2016 -- JIM NEFF
THE NEFF ZONE
DID YOU KNOW?
One of my favorite things about reading newspapers is uncovering things I did not know before. Sometimes it's the crux of an article, but many times it's a nugget that is only revealed upon reading the entire piece.
There happens to be some science behind this. Did you know that dealing with actual paper makes us receptive and attentive? Researchers assigned students “to read either a passage on paper or to read it on a computer screen. Those who read the passage on paper scored much better on a comprehension test of the passage.” The researchers suspect “that there’s just something helpful in seeing the text physically laid out on the page. Readers sometimes remember where on the page they came across a particular passage. But that spatial aspect of reading — the physicality of it — is lost on a digital device.”
In this column I like to document things with website addresses, but for discovery and retention, paper may be old school but it still has benefits. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/04/19/earth-day-paper-recycling-environment-students-learning-reading-writing-column/82119976/)
With this in mind, here we go. Did you know that President Obama (or any president for that matter) actually does not need the Senate to approve his nominee for the Supreme Court? University of Michigan Law School professor Richard Primus notes: “The Constitution doesn't actually say that the Senate needs to vote to confirm a judicial nominee, only that the president must make Supreme Court appointments 'with the advice and consent' of the Senate.” Writing in the Washington Post, Gregory L. Diskant added: “The historical average between nomination and confirmation is 25 days...That suggests that 90 days is a perfectly reasonable amount of time for the Senate...If the Senate fails to act by the assigned date, Obama could conclude that it has waived its right to participate in the process.” The bottom line is that any president has the right to bypass the Senate. Whether a president would opt to do this is another question.
(https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obama-can-appoint-merrick-garland-to-the-supreme-court-if-the-senate-does-nothing/2016/04/08/4a696700-fcf1-11e5-886f-a037dba38301_story.html and http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/brian-dickerson/2016/04/13/garland-path-forward/82943488/)
While Congress is busy playing constitutional keep-away with President Obama, most of the rest of us are taking a deep breath after filing our income taxes. I say “most” because not everyone pays their fair share. Did you know the makers of Oreo cookies “pays crumbs in taxes?” Mondelez International “reported an effective tax rate of 7.5 percent last year...The company has consistently paid tax rates lower than the U.S. federal statutory rate of 35percent...in 2014 it was 13.8percent and just 2.5 percent in 2013.” By comparison, General Mills reported an effective tax rate of 34 percent and Kellogg's 21 percent last year. I don't know about you, but the next time I'm buying cookies I'll be supporting the Keebler Elves (Kellogg's).
Figuring out your taxes can be frustrating, but did you know a bill was introduced in the Senate this week to “allow free government-prepped returns?” It would be totally voluntary, but would work like this. “You'd open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone...It's already a reality in Denmark, Sweden and Spain. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time.”
This is not a new concept. It has been around for decades and was endorsed by President Ronald Reagan. So why has this idea gotten no traction? “It's been opposed for years by the company behind the most popular consumer tax software — Intuit, maker of TurboTax. Intuit has spent about $11.5 million on federal lobbying in the past five years — more than Apple or Amazon.” I guess you could consider the money you pay to the feds as income tax and the money you spend to have your taxes prepared as a de facto turbo tax. (https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-maker-of-turbotax-fought-free-simple-tax-filing)
Well, not everything found in newspaper articles is serious, thank goodness. Did you know that those cute baby carrots are not babies at all? While so-called baby carrots account for 70 percent of all carrots sold, “They’re just products of shaven down lumpy, ugly adult carrots.” According to a Chicago Tribune article, consumers like baby carrots for the convenience (no peeling) and growers like baby carrots because they can charge double (per bag). Everyone wins, sort of. (https://www.yahoo.com/news/truth-baby-carrots-may-may-200000491.html)
As you munch those baby carrots (please pass the ranch dressing), you might want to pair that with the proper vintage. Did you know that a glass of red wine is the equivalent to an hour at the gym? “Research conducted by the University of Alberta in Canada has found that health benefits in resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, are similar to those we get from exercise.” Of course you can also get resveratrol from blueberries, peanut butter, red grapes and dark chocolate, but vino might be more fun. (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/01/08/a-glass-of-red-wine-is-the-equivalent-to-an-hour-at-the-gym-says-new-study_n_7317240.html)
This links to another study. Did you know that “wine o'clock” is 6:30 P.M.? “A company analyzed two million users who track their wine drinking on an app, and figured out when most people start drinking. The answer is 6:30 P.M. They found that the majority of wine drinking goes on between 4:45 P.M. and 9:00 P.M., with the peak between 6:00 and 6:45.” The study also noted: “A heatmap based on the results shows people are more likely to drink on Friday and Saturday - although there is also a peak on Sunday evening.” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3541670/What-time-wine-o-clock-Drinking-vino-peaks-6-30pm-Friday-pick-bottle-4-45pm.html)
All this is fine and dandy, but the problem with this, as I see it, is that no effort has been made to coordinate “wine o'clock” with “beer-:30” while factoring in daylight savings time. You would think the Republicans and Democrats in Congress could put aside their differences in order to resolve this situation for the good of the entire free world.