Archive for October, 2011

Trends in Criminal Activity.

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Have you ever noticed how companies take your money, simply because you were too lazy to stop them?  This isn’t a new trend, but it is growing.   The first time I noticed it was when I bought my first computer (a 500MgHrz, IBM) from Best Buy.  Man was I excited.   So excited, that when I was purchasing it, for what I thought was $150.00, I completely glazed over the fact that my $200 in savings was only $50 by the time I got to the counter.   The rest, as you may have guessed, was MIR, also known as the dreaded Mail In Rebate.   And of course, I had to sign up for 2 years of AOL…   LOL. 

   Getting the rest of my money required some hefty work.  I had 4 different MIR’s to handle, and they weren’t going to make the process easy.   There were UPC codes to clip off the boxes, there were conditions and fine print that needed to be navigated (by a lawyer it seemed), there were secret codes that needed to be filled in on the paper work, the hoops never ended.   In the end, after countless hours of phone calls and complaints, I got all but one of the MIR’s cashed out.   Of course the BIG one from Best Buy, never showed up and somehow my original UPC’s got lost somewhere, soooo…  Oh well.  From that point on I simply pass on any deal, no matter how good, that comes with a MIR.   Better safe than sorry.

   Sadly, other companies were taking a long hard look at the MIR system, and began to implement business strategies solely based on the weakness of consumers.   By weakness I mean, our laziness, our gullibility, our lack of patience and our complete inability to deal with frustrating setbacks and circumstances.   Companies began to bank on the fact that we would either be too lazy to play their games, or just give up once they laid down their first roadblock.     And they were right!   We would roll over and let them have their way with us, once we got even the slightest bit frustrated at the process.

   Now, everybody is in on the game.   My insurance company United Healthcare (UMR) sends me a letter every time there’s a claim, saying they wont pay a Dr. or hospital, because they (here’s the hoop) believe I have other insurance, and I’ll have to call and confirm that I only use them.   And when I call, what do you think I hear, “Oh, yes I see it, there’s a note that says you’ve called before.”   Yeah, 50 F’ing TIMES YOU DUMB #$(&^$!!!!  SO WHY ARE YOU STILL SENDING ME LETTERS?!!    At this point I don’t even bother to yell…  It’s not the operators fault, they’re just pawns in the insurance fraud game.    Yeah, I said it.   UMR I’m calling you out.   I know that I’ve only got 60 days to confirm that letter, before you refuse that payment.   I know you’re trying to cheat me out of my money, hoping that one day I’ll mess up and miss my 60 day window.   Scumbags.

   And it doesn’t stop with insurance companies, big box stores, or even mail order and online services.   Almost every store you come in contact with has some angle, to steal your money in some “fine print” scam.  

   With a little common sense most of this can be avoided, but what about companies that attempt to steal your money, even without you ever having dealt with them?   Case in point;  In a recent Techdirt article, they divulged the how music labels are attempting to steal money from unsuspecting artists, by laying claims to their royalties from internet streaming distribution.   In this story they talk about Universal Music laying claim to royalty money from an artist (Zoe Keating) they admit they have no ties too.   Only by the artist checking up on her royalties account through SoundExchange, did she notice the “indiscretion”, and tried to get it resolved.   Which she did, or so she thought.   Sure, once could have been a mistake, it happens, but when it kept happening, and SoundExchange started giving her 90 day deadlines to dispute the claims or, Universal Music would get to keep her royalties.   Tell me that doesn’t stink of a scam!    Keep in mind, Zoe Keating has NEVER worked with or for Universal Music or any of its subsidiaries, and they admit to having NO LEGAL claim to any of her royalties.

   So, by this “YPNO (Your Problem Not Ours) tactic” Universal Music simply put out a blanket claim on all artists, and then sits back and collects money they have no right too.   Only a few artists might fight back, and even then, they’ll just keep the blanket claim up, hoping maybe that the artist will simply give up out of frustration, or be on tour, and miss the deadline.

   How many of us are caught up in this?   What happens when we’re nickel and dimed to death by companies we have no ties too?   How can we fight for transparency in online and offline contracts?   Do you know what your privacy statement says…  In any of the online services you subscribe too?   You would almost have to throw them in your feed reader, just to keep up with all the changes.   How will the, “You owe us, because you didn’t catch us”, style of business find it’s mark on you?    Prepare yourselves wisely.   It’s coming fast.

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Occupy Orlando, with me. or not, it’s up to you.

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Occupy Orlando,

To cut to the chase, I went, I saw, I listened… and now I’m more than torn over exactly how I should feel about our chances of ever getting anything accomplished.

 

On one hand, I’ve always said I just wanted people to get up, get mad and speak out. In that capacity, I got what I wanted. It was great seeing so many people out, taking a stand, moving their hearts and minds, and speaking out on causes they believed in. I respect that. Even in the Tea Party, I respected their passion, and their need for expression. The Occupy Orlando protest didn’t leave me empty in that regard either. There were a lot of people out there, and they were angry, genuinely angry. It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling seeing a mass of general public out and screaming for… Well, SOMETHING.

 

On the other hand, I think I was amiss about my expectations for the protest itself. There was a bit of cohesion at times, when the chant of, “We are the 99!” would ring out through the crowd, but other than that, there seemed to be such a hodge-podge of ideals and causes that it was like a trade show. Yeah, it was like a trade show, each cause or group having their own booth. There was everything from the 9/11 conspiracy theorists and Fair Tax advocates, to Ron Paul supporters and masked Anonymous “members”. Each with a slightly different angle and reason for being there. How in the world are we as a nation going to move forward without a clear and decisive direction? How can we bring all these people together and get them to agree on measures that need to be taken? Even I was there with a differing agenda. How was I supposed to fit on the same page as these other groups?

 

I suppose however, that’s the beauty of this movement, that there are so many people from so many differing views and ideas, yet here they are. Here they are, coming together in general assembly. Using and utilizing their rights instead of just reading about how those rights are disappearing, from their comfy chairs at home. Perhaps it’s that, that gives me hope. The fact that we were all there together. Could just being there say, “I’m here with you, and I agree.”? I hope so. I’d like to believe that.

 

So maybe I’m not so torn, maybe I’ll just accept it for what it is. Occupy (city name here) isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start. Congrats America, I think you’re starting to get angry.

 

 

And of course you had your teens (and some adults) who were just out for the experience. Below is one of the more confused people I saw:

 

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She loves Apple so much, she can’t even see the irony in the sign she’s holding.

1. She’s chanting, “WE ARE THE 99!”, while clearly Steve Jobs is a 1%’er.

2. The sign says, “We need more JOBS”, while I get the double meaning… Apple, like every other computer company, buys it’s parts from over seas “sweat shops” like Foxconn.

 

Anyway, it’s just funny how people are.

 

PS. That picture would have been a hell-of-a lot easier to take if I had an iPhone and not my Android POS that needed to be reset 3 times, just to take a picture.   Now that’s IRONY!

Occupy Orlando, with me :)

Friday, October 14th, 2011

So the Occupy (place city name here) protests have come to town, and yes, I will be going. Now, it’s important to note that some of the “Occupy” protests haven’t been real focused as to what exactly they are about.  They seem a bit like an angry patchwork of people who hate many different aspects of corporate America and the government.  This doesn’t mean they are wrong, corruption and greed are some things that the majority seems to be standing against, and that’s a good thing.  But the fringe can sometimes gain the eyes of the media, because it is in a sense more disruptive or loud… And lets face it, easier for the media to spin in a whatever direction they want.    The mish-mash of ideas and causes has led to some confusion amongst the general public at home watching the events on TV.  This is troublesome to be sure.  However, movements, even in these most general of ways, can be a good thing.  The “Occupy” movement isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start.

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Sign under review

Here is the sign I plan on carrying.  I hope its message is clear, and that people understand why I am there.   To me the message encompasses all the problems and places the perspective solely on us.   After all, without us, the problems wouldn’t exist.

 

We created the problems of today by allowing them to happen right under our nose.  We elected the officials that let the large corporate entities abuse our financial stability.  We saw the problems and did nothing to prevent them from coming to pass.  We stuck our noses to the TV in hopes of escaping… denying… or simply ignoring the storm that was coming.  We consumed, and consumed, and then consumed some more.   We allowed the corporations to take control of our government.   We allowed the very people we didn’t trust, to make decisions for our future, just so we could blame them when it all fell apart.   We held nobody accountable, because deep down, we knew it was our fault.  We bark, but have no bite.   Maybe, just maybe, we can accept our roll in this mess and begin to deal with our responsibilities.

 

Revolution or Evolution, may we take responsibility for our world, or remove ourselves from it.