Amazon to start charging Maryland sales tax

If you live in the state of Maryland and purchase something from Amazon, an extra six percent will be added to your purchase price and funneled to Maryland in the form of a sales tax. This change goes into effect beginning today.

Until now, Amazon did not collect Maryland sales tax because they did not have a physical presence in the state. That’s about to change. Amazon is in the process of converting an old General Motors plant in Baltimore into one of its massive distribution centers. The new facility is not scheduled to open until next spring, but they will start collecting Maryland sales tax from Maryland residents beginning today.

I wonder how much taxes Amazon is paying to state and local governments for its new facility in Baltimore. Usually, when a business like Amazon comes into a location, it’s showered with tax incentives intended to attract them into establishing a presence. The idea is that they will hire lots of people who will then in turn pay taxes and spend their paychecks, thus stimulating the economy.

When I moved here to Maryland in 1994, twenty years ago, it was to work in a new gigantic Wal-Mart photo finishing lab that was being constructed in nearby Williamsport. The state and county essentially gave the land to Wal-Mart to build the facility. They also provided tax incentives for the next twenty years. After a few years, Wal-Mart sold all their large photo labs to Fujicolor. The lab closed in 2008, resulting in 125 people losing their job.

Personally I hate that I will now have to pay Maryland six percent of everything I buy from Amazon. I feel like they’ve done nothing to deserve it. I also feel like I pay Maryland enough without having to also pay a tax for the stuff I buy from Amazon. Oh well, what can I do about it, join the TEA Party?

Gre Hernandez

I don’t think so. I’d rather just pay the stupid six percent tax.

Who knew storing nude photos on the Internet was a bad idea?

I think what surprised me the most about the Apple iCloud naked celebrity photo scandal is that it’s 2014 and people, celebrities in their 20’s, thought the Internet was a safe place to secure their private nude photos.

Since when was the Internet a safe place to store anything?

Edward Snowden, the American hero coward who leaked highly classified information about NSA monitoring capabilities, currently hiding in Russia, told the world that nothing you do online or with a cell phone is private. He said the government had access to anything. If you believed Snowden, why would you think anything was private on the Internet?

If you own an iPhone, by default, it sends any photo you take to the cloud, specifically, the iCloud. The reason? In case you lose your iPhone or it becomes damaged, all your photos will be backed up and obtainable. I like it because I can take a picture with my iPhone and then immediately have access to the photo on my desktop or laptop. You can always turn this feature off if you want to.

Did any of these naked victims know that they cold turn this feature off? I’m guessing not.

Some people love taking naked photos

Having worked for years in the photo finishing industry, I know for a fact that a lot of people like taking naked pictures of themselves. When I got out of the Air Force in 1994, I was hired by Wal-Mart Photo to work as a repair technician in a new, gigantic photo lab they were building here in Maryland. If you dropped off film at a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club for two-day processing anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic or North-East region, it would be sent to us, processed, and then sent back. Most of the process was completely automated and normally the images were not seen by human eyeballs. As a repair technician working on the high-speed, automated photofinishing equipment, that standard didn’t apply to me. I would see a lot of the photos being processed.

There were a lot of nude pics, much more than you would think coming from people who shop at Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club.

Whatever you think the percentage is of people taking nude pictures of themselves is, double it and then double it again.

The takeaway from all this is that if you’re a celebrity who enjoys taking nude pictures of yourself, make sure the technology you’re using to capture your nakedness doesn’t automatically store the photos on the World Wide Internet Web, protected with the same simple, stupid password you probably use for everything else. Depending on your level of celebrity, you may have someone working for you who is in charge of your security and technology. If so, they should have ensured this didn’t happen.

If however your level of celebrity is on a downward journey, you can just go on Twitter and blame the technology you never bothered to learn:

If Kirsten Dunst is smart enough to know how to put a pizza icon with a poop icon in a Twitter post, creating the phrase piece of shit, how did she not know that photos taken with her iPhone, even “private” naked pictures, would automatically backup to the iCloud?

Wal-Mart is selling Nazi SS skull t-shirts

The Death’s Head symbol was worn by the members of the German Nazi SS. The Totenkopf on the Wal-Mart t-shirt looks very similar to the divisional insignia of the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf. As you can see, It’s almost an exact copy.

I stopped in at Wal-Mart today after I got off work. I had to pick up a few things. As I was walking past the men’s clothing area, something caught my eye. I noticed something weird over at a wall of t-shirts. One of the t-shirts had a design on it that looked remarkably like something related to Nazis. Specifically, the Totenkopf or “Death’s Head”.

I took a picture of it with my camera phone:

The Death’s Head symbol was worn by the members of the German Nazi SS. The Totenkopf on the Wal-Mart t-shirt looks very similar to the divisional insignia of the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf. As you can see, It’s almost an exact copy:

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Neo-Nazis sometimes use the Totenkopf image because it is not as easily identifiable as other Nazi symbols such as the swastika. You might see one of these tattooed on someone’s arm while standing in line at Burger King and think it’s just a poorly done pirate skull.

It’s not.

Is Wal-Mart purposely trying to sell clothing with Nazi symbols on it? I doubt it. They won’t even sell CDs with bad words on them. I doubt someone at Wal-Mart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas decided to sell clothing with Nazi symbols on it.

Whoever designed this shirt had to know the origin of the skull.