Today was opening day in the 2001 NFL season. The Vikings opened theirseason at home against the not-so-mighty Carolina Panthers. Afterwatching the game, it is obvious that Dennis Green’s ploy to confuse thePanthers by trading offensive players and schemes with the CincinnatiBungles was a failure. The player impersonating Daunte Culpepperexecuted bad decision after bad decision, and even his good decisions wereoften marred by poor execution. Apparently, the Vikings did not re-signRandy Moss in the offseason, but rather, trotted out a lucky fan wearingMoss’ jersey for this game. That lucky fan had one catch for twentyeight yards. Based on game one, Jimmy Kleinsasser and Byron Chamberlinwill be the Vikes’ top receiving duo this year, supplanting the obviouslyover-the-hill Carter and Moss. Chamberlin led allViking receivers with seven catches, while Kleinsasser caught threeballs. Note that Kleinsasser’s three catches are more than the lucky fanwho impersonated Randy Moss. Perhaps this is yet another of DennyGreen’s clever plots whereby the previously great Carter and Moss will onlybe used to fill out the roster and the key plays in the game will be made bythose with less talent than the wide receiver duo. Giving furtherevidence to the “offense impersonation theory,” the player wearingJake Reed’s jersey failed to drop a single easy pass in Reed’s jersey’sfirst game back as a Viking after one year in New Orleans. (I’m notsure why Reed ever left New Orleans. The city’s nickname is “TheBig Easy” and given Reed’s penchant for dropping easy passes, it seemedthe two were a perfect fit.) The player impersonating Michael Bennettcarried on the proud Vikings running back tradition of running into thebacks of his own lineman, thereby making it easier for the defenders totackle him. Gary Anderson’s doppelganger missed a 41 yard field goaland also managed to shank an extra point (with some help from thesomnambulant offensive line). Todd “The Drive Killer”Steussie, now with the Panthers, reminded everyone in Minnesota why we werehappy to see him go with a trio of brain-dead penalties. Thereplacement referees also reminded us that while we may not always like howthe normal NFL referees call the games, they are better than thealternatives. Why taxes suck: Part I in a continuing series. Really looking at myrecent phone bill reminded me of just how many ways people get subtlyscrewed every day. Our non-DSL phone bill this month totaled $18.35without long distance charges for which we are billed separately by adifferent company. We pay $10.69 every month to have a phone. Ontop of that, we paid $6.85 in taxes broken out like this:- $4.37 - Charges for Network Access for Interstate Calling, Imposed byFederal Communications Commission. I’m paying four dollars in taxes sothat if I want to make a long distance call I can? How, exactly, doesthe FCC facilitate this every month for four dollars? Where does thismoney go?

  • $0.44 - Federal Universal Service Fee. This might be the”everyone deserves a phone no matter how far they live from acity” tax
  • $0.30 - CA High Cost Fund Surcharge No idea.
  • $0.02 - California Teleconnect Fund Surcharge No idea.
  • $0.08 - Universal Lifeline Telephone Service Surcharge Or is this the”everyone deserves a phone no matter how far they live from acity” tax? And, if so, what is the tax above?
  • $0.01 - State Regulator Fee We pay regular taxes to have a powerlessand sycophantic (to the industry) regulatory board. They need moremoney for what?
  • $0.49 - Federal Tax different than those above how?
  • $0.08 - 911 The only tax I don’t mind paying
  • $1.25 - Local Local how? Thy city of Alameda? Alameda County? Regardless of what all these taxes are for, we pay a tax rate of nearlyseventy percent just for having a phone with dial-tone. That seemscriminal.