Well, life as we know it didn't exactly end with the millennium here
in the state of New York ... unless, of course, you count Gov. Pataki's
hefty new tax increase on every pack of cigarettes. (All you non-New
York smokers need not gloat. Like the flu -- or Hillary -- it's been
going around lately.) Those who won't or can't abandon the fragrant weed
can always head down to North Carolina, knock off a cigarette truck, and
commence a brilliant entrepreneurial career in the black market. Most,
though, will no doubt prefer to seek out less risky ways of economizing.
They're in luck.
You see, it seems there are loopholes in this tobacco tax thing. One
of the biggest is that online tobacco shops that are located on Native
American reservations are not required to report out-of-state
sales. That means tough darts for state tax collectors. There are also
duty-free cigarettes that have been shipped out of the United States and
re-imported -- still available, though the laws concerning them are
currently in flux. To see what kind of deal you can make, visit Discount Cigarettes. It
lists many, many discount online cigarette sellers, alongside the prices
they currently proffer, all of it updated several times a month.
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Yes, I know the real
answer to these little money difficulties is to cut out the
cigarettes altogether. So do you. You don't need me to preach about it.
And I'm disinclined to do so, anyway. These punitive taxes are the
government's crude and bludgeonly way of "encouraging" people to quit,
and it makes me want to encourage you to damn well stand your ground and
continue to smoke, if that's what you like doing. In real life, of
course, there's not much sense cutting off your nose to spite your face
-- if you're the least bit inclined to quit smoking, then that is the
avenue you should pursue. But if you aren't about to make quitting one
of your New Millennium resolutions, you can at least quit enriching your
local snarky anti-tobacco bureaucrats.
Your own litmus test
Customize your own presidential litmus test -- and automatically
administer it to all the presidential candidates -- at the 2000 Presidential
Candidate Matcher. You enter your opinions on various issues, and
the site matches you up with the best-fitting candidate profile. It even
lets you specify which issues are your biggest priorities and weights
them accordingly. (A prominent note up front, for what it's worth,
states, "This site does not store or forward your answers to this
Once the match is made, you're presented with a complete list of
candidates in order of match quotient, along with links to all of their
websites. Brace yourself. I got one major, major surprise in my own
top-three list (Browne, Keyes, Forbes) -- which, by the by, I feel
constitutes a decisive confirmation of my essential status as a cultural
freak. I mean, what kind of schizophrenic nut case gives Harry Browne and Alan Keyes roughly commensurate,
top-ranked scores? I don't care how much sense it turns out to make upon
further research. It still feels to me like being a Red Sox fan and a
Mets fan at the same time. It's just fishy. Me, I would like to
have a word with the site's researchers. There may be a few kinks here
that need ironing out. Harrumph.
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Want to buy a defunct Russian
submarine? They are serious, and I am speechless. I guess you really
can buy absolutely anything over the Web these days.
A game for all seasons
Being cheap and family-friendly may have something to do with Dweep's
continuing popularity, but the fun is the real secret. The shareware
download is a classic
guide-the-questing-creature-through-the-hazardous-maze game, and
involves lots of really good little tools and twists. It also contains
no verisimilitudinous gore whatsoever, which means its appeal is a)
non-coarsening and b) capable, at least potentially, of being perceived
by all ages and genders. If you like the 10-level demo, pay just $10 for
the complete, 30-level version.