Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fox News Headline pisses off blogger! Post ensues

9/11 Families Outraged by Obama!

WTF? How does anyone not know this is a lie? Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, the Justice Depatment, and everyone else involved in creating and populating our "terrorist prison camp" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were able to make something unprecedented happen-- by using bad techniques, arresting the wrong people, breaking international treaties and domestic laws, and not protecting the prisoners' due process, they have basically ensured they will get no convictions against any one of the 850 or so people who were cycled though Guantanamo. None! Zero!! Did you hear that, 9/11 families? Did you hear that, USS Cole families? Bush and company have got nothing to convict anyone at Guantanamo, and never have, and never will have. they spent millions on Guantanamo, and millions more on "extraordinary rendition." Domestically, they arrested almost 3,000 Arab-Americans, and thousands more non-Americans. Overseas, they seemed to arrest anyone turned in for a reward in Afghanistan and Iraq and who knows where else.

And they've got nothing. They have gotten three plea bargains (based on the promise the people who plead guilty will be released immediately, or almost). Everyone else has been held to be innocent when our prosecutors couldn't produce any acceptable evidence to the contrary, and then our tax dollars were paid to either return them home or to relocate them (when their home country wouldn't take them back). What's more, Fox News knows this fact, but won't publish it, because it's more convenient, and reader-grabbing, to say the 9/11 families are "outraged" because Obama is closing Guantanamo. Fox News is lying to the victims to make some cheap and misleading news headline. Shameful. We, the American people are more ashamed Gitmo is still open.

No convictions, no evidence, no confessions under torture that could stand up in a court of law. Nothing. The Bush Administration experiment with the suspension of habeas corpus, trashing the Geneva convention (which the US signed), and failure to honor any human rights at all, is a colossal disaster. Fox News knows it. And they're trying, somehow, for some reason, to blame Obama. Maybe they don't think their audience is smart enough to understand the real story. I don't know, and don't care.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day / Wireless Disaster

This post could be titled "What They Mean When They Sell You the Unlimited Plan."

The wireless communication industry is abuzz with the problems they're anticipating from the Obama inauguration. The pre-inaugural concert in Washington this past Sunday caused random dropped calls and pockets of poor or no service with more than one supplier.
"We did experience some mild call-blocking, as was expected, but with the capacity we added and the number of calls we got on the network and the amount of activity, our network worked about as well as we expected," Crystal Davis, a spokeswoman for Sprint Nextel, told the Post.
Oh, you bought the unlimited plan? Well, don't expect it to work to help you find your way back to the bus you came into town on. When they say "unlimited", they really mean the way they feel about how much they can bill you (up to $150/month)... err, I mean "unlimited" means how much service they would like to give you, up to the point when they can't actually give you any service at all.

The wireless industry is recommending text messaging for communication during the inauguration ceremonies. I don't wonder. My fiance's plan offers texting for twenty cents per message. And know what? Texting takes ZERO BANDWIDTH for the phone companies. That's because text messages ride for free in surplus space in the packets used to make the protocol work. The companies charge a lot for text messages because it's a popular way to communicate, and because they can. They cost the vendors functionally nothing.

Hello, America. The phone companies are are among the largest and most profitable in the country. They are breaking new grounds in designing consumer unfriendly terms of use and levels of service. Sprint has a program where they drop you as a customer if you complain three times in one year. They carefully avoid the crime of monopolistic collusion by all acting as if they're a monopoly. They promise unlimited service, and deliver whatever they feel like hacking together. Call them on it. Maybe the new Obama administration will hold up this kind of greed-capitalism to the light and show it for what it is. Or maybe not. But don't be fooled just because the TV and print media don't say anything about it-- they're all owned by the same companies!

The wireless industry sold unlimited service. And they reneged.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No One's Watching the Treasury

In African and South American countries, one of the hallmarks of a regime change is the looting of the public treasury. Every safe, strongbox, cash drawer, and cookie jar is stripped clean by the cronies of the outgoing administration.

A similar story was in the NYTimes today. In case you think it can't happen here:
At the Palm Beach Ritz-Carlton last November, John C. Hope III, the chairman of Whitney National Bank in New Orleans, stood before a ballroom full of Wall Street analysts and explained how his bank intended to use its $300 million in federal bailout money.

“Make more loans?” Mr. Hope said. “We’re not going to change our business model or our credit policies to accommodate the needs of the public sector as they see it to have us make more loans.”

And don't get the idea this is one arrogant SOB who's bucking the trend. The Times article has a video with four more of the scum-sucking reptiles, errr... I mean bank presidents, all announcing they're planning to use it to acquire other banks, and to grow their business. Not to help the beleaguered American homeowner, or business person. Nope, the money's going to be used to increase their shareholder's value! And wait... you be the judge. I don't think they're even grateful. They think it's theirs.

In a bold and stunning end-of-term gambit by GWB and friends (Paulsen, Bernanke), the American public was told they had to pony up three-quarters of a trillion dollars to bail out the banks, or the consequences would be dire. The house of representatives, concerned by such an expensive and frankly unexamined move, rejected it at first, so for the next week or so, as the stock market plumetted and the value of people's homes and 401K's dropped by as much as a third or more, the administration was everywhere at once chanting pious nostrums about rebuilding confidence in the system and hinting relief for the millions of Americans over their heads in mortgage debt.

The basic problem was banks wouldn't lend to one another, because of the shenannigans that took place when Lehman Brothers collapsed. No one is going to lend money to a person playing Russian Roulette, because on the next turn you might be out of your funds for good. It's fine to say, as Paulsen, Bernanke, and others in the administration did, that the loans were going to address the mortgage crisis, but they knew then, and they know now (even after Congress passed the bill to release round two of the bailout money) that the money was just to prop up the banks confidence in one another, and keep the status quo. Congress didn't understand that, though. They released the money anyway.

As for the American people: Got a mortgage you can't afford, that's for more than your house is worth? Sucks to be you. Got an adjustable rate mortgage that's about to balloon to 10% interest? Probably should have read the fine print. Has your retirement fund shrunk to uselessness? Get back to work. Oh, your job no longer exists? Bummer. Vote for the Republicans again, who know how to save a buck and shrink the government rolls and take care of real Americans.

The two trillion plus dollars the Bush Administration injected into the US banking system from common American taxpayers isn't going to help a single distressed American homeowner. It's going to be used by the banks to buy more banks, and to keep in the safe to prove the bank's fit to stay in the big old poker game. GWB may not be bright enough to know he's been had. Paulsen and Bernanke are. They've stripped the treasury, and no one is calling them on it. Not even our elected representatives, who are supposed to be watching the door of the Treasury. It's sickening.

Friday, January 16, 2009

No, No, No...

Did our government just, on the same day (yesterday), approve the next 350 billion dollar bank holiday grant, errr... I mean bailout-- and approve what they're calling a 20 billion dollar gratuity to Bank of America, but which on closer inspection seems to be more like 20 billion now and the promise of 55 billion more if the value goes south on a particularly steaming pile of toilet paper.... err, I mean mortgage debt they happen to own-- and did this all get done while Mr G. W. "I stole it all" Bush was telling the American people he did it all for them?

In the last year, our treasury has given, without conditions, nearly 2 trillion dollars in cash and promises to the largest, most rapacious, malfeasant, and dysfunctional corporations in the world.

Too big to fail should mean too big to exist in the first place. Think about it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why I Quit NetFlix

This morning I decided to go over to the Netflix website and change my membership from "on hold" to "cancelled." What could I be thinking of? Isn't Netflix the greatest way to get movies since, well, the beginning of the universe?

Partially, that's so. After I clicked cancel, and then was redirected to the page that said "ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO QUIT NETFLIX?" which I also had to confirm, I was quickly sent to a survey page to try and explain it to them. Exactly why I could be making a choice of such questionable sanity? Was their selection too small? Had Blockbuster tried to undermine their business model with some misleading new program? Was I going to some radical new technology? Were there technical problems with their downloads? Wasn't their high definition high enough? Couldn't their surround sound surround me? All the questions were multiple choice, and none allowed me to tell them exactly what was wrong. So I have to use my trusty blog for that.

No Netflix, all those things are OK. The reason I quit is that you stole $15.00 from me, to which you were not entitled, and for which you delivered no value whatsoever. In addition you were able to process that payment through my bank on a credit card which had expired (you did the same thing as well, Amazon, and I'm going to deal with that soon). The long and short of it is, back in September( I believe?) my credit card was expiring, Netflix asked me for a new number, I thought "heck, I don't really use this service, because I don't really watch movies much anymore," and went to cancel. The Netflix website said, noooo, just put your account on hold for up to three months, so I did that. When the hold was up, Netflix sent me an email to tell me (I promptly went back and extended the hold), but they also processed a payment. Fifteen bucks. Against an expired credit card. And Bank of America processed it, because face it, Netflix is probably Bank of America's only successful and liquid client. B of A would never let me use that expired credit card, but they will let the likes of Netflix "If-you-don't-pay-us-we'll-just-steal-it-from-you" Corporation process a payment through that expired credit card.

Now there are those who would say I just need to call Netflix customer service to get my money back. That's fine, but that means that it's OK for a company to take my money, and it's up to me to ask for it back. That's a bad, bad, bad state of affairs. I speak English. I have a phone. I read my credit card statements. I wonder how much Netflix collects each month in questionable transactions. I find it troubling and a little disgusting.

So, the answer to the question posed in the title of this post: I am no longer a customer of Netflix, because they stole money from me. And proven themselves thereby to be scum sucking pond rats. And what's worse is they're probably the best and most principaled of the online service-online payment companies out there. Sad. Very, very sad.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year

Happy New Year to all my reader. I'm glad to say this year, 2009, is going to be great. How do I know this? I know this because 2009 is the first year in the last few where I don't need to make any resolutions. I think I finally "caught up" with things, and instead of resolving to improve this year, I really can just sit back and enjoy all the good stuff I've already done. Any more improvements I could make to myself or to my life would just be kind of OCD, like thinking maybe I should get some different colored shoelaces for my sneakers or something.

Nope, this year I'm happy to say I'm as good as I'm going to be, and my life is everything I want it to be, and the world doesn't seem like it's going to get any better anytime soon, so I'm just welcoming this new page on the calendar with no strings attached and saying Happy New Year to my reader.

Visiting hours will be from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Thursday and Friday, grand funeral mass at the Chapel by the Side of the Road will be celebrated on Saturday at 9:00 am. Try and dress nice.