Ax the Tax at Oregon State University

You ever have those crazy ideas that at first seem impractical but you just know you have to do it? Like deciding to play frisbee golf in the dark–because you have a couple of glow in the dark discs–but at a park you know you spend the majority of time finding your disc–in the daytime–after you throw it instead of playing the game and that the express lack of sunlight will only exacerbate the problem at least twofold?

Well, I had one of those ideas for the Ax the Tax event: I was determined to print the entire US Tax code. Yup, all of United States Code Title 26. Commit first, problem-solve later. What could possibly go wrong?

Lots. The text of the code presented a formatting problem as well as a fragmentation problem. Scripting was needed to both pull the data from the 1000+ pages the information resided on as well as parse it into a usable text format. Thank goodness for python.

Secondly, it appears it is not straightforward to print a million or so words from a PDF file. It takes a printer with enough RAM as to not choke and stutter as it spends the next 2 days printing out your document. School printers to the rescue!

And finally, I had the document in front of me. (Download the PDF version if the text is legible on your printer here. If you need to change the font size, edit the CSS in the HTML file here.) All 99 pages of size 3 pt font in its wall-of-text glory!

Tax Code

 And then comes the event.

Table Setup

It went ok. Even with the entire tax code there and letting people ax it with the blow-up ax (which eventually broke with a mighty swing. RIP) I still only garnered only 5 sign ups. 

I did have some good chats with curious people, however. It’s a learning experience and I look forward to honing my skills for the future.

March onward!

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