Monday, December 28, 2015

It’s time to start thinking ahead to the 2020 Republican nominee for President. My favorite crazier-than-Trump candidate of the future is Sylvia Allen.

Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen: "The vapor
trails are coming! The vapor trails are coming!"

Look, either The Donald will or will not be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee. At this stage, who can know? Who could even have suspected, only a few months ago, that Trump would be the leading contender? Or that Ben Carson would lose his footing as a leading contender by getting the story of the Biblical seven years of plenty confused with King Tut’s sarcophagus? Or that he would ever be a leading contender in the first place?

The rule of Republican politics seems to be, the more insane, the more ridiculous, the more outrageous, the more bombastic, the more twisted, the more confused, the more ignorant of the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s history a candidate sounds, the greater the likelihood that he or she will enchant Republican voters.

With that in mind, I herewith nominate Sylvia Allen as a serious candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2020.

Sylvia who?

So glad you asked!

Sylvia Allen is a Republican from Snowflake, Arizona. 

Snowflake? It’s up Route 77 from Show Low. You say that's no help? Well, it’s kind of west of Concho. Still no help? Try a long drive southeast of Flagstaff or a helluva long hike from Mesa.

But I digress.

Earlier in her still-young political career, Sylvia was county supervisor in Navajo County, which is located…oh, never mind the geography. At any rate, she came to some prominence in her supervisor’s job when she tried to interfere with an investigation into her son in law, who seems to have done something, um, worthy of of investigation, concerning female inmates in the jail where he’s a detention officer.

So the county sheriff warned that he’d arrest Sylvia if she kept on messing with an official investigation. Whereupon she filed a state senate bill that gave detention officers like her son in law greater protection from disciplinary investigations.

No no, don’t get all excited about her candidacy yet. Because her CV gets lots better.
  • In 2009, during a committee hearing concerning a uranium mine she shared her impressive  geological knowledge by declaring that the world is 6,000 years old
  • This year, she declared that people should be required by law to go to church. The “establishment of religion" clause, of the Bill of Rights, of the United States Constitution? Must be some kind of Moose-lim plot. She made her declaration during a debate on whether to let people carry concealed weapons in public buildings. (That's always a good idea, since you can shoot the opposition on the spot instead of wasting time debating them.) Allen, who said she didn’t understand the opposition to her idea, decried a “moral breakdown.”
  • With all her geological and moral knowledge, it’s only natural that somebody like Sylvia Allen should be telling professional educators what that may and may not teach. So naturally, the President of the Arizona Senate appointed her chair of the Senate Education Committee.
But here’s the pièce de résistance. Well, why should I paraphrase it when I can lift it directly from Sylvia Facebook page? Here is is, with misspellings (or typos, depending on how charitable you choose to be) preserved intact.
Ok, I do not want to get into a debate about weather. However, I know what I see weekly up here on the flat where I live outside of Snowflake. The planes usely, three or four, fly a grid across the sky and leave long white trails streaming behind them. I have watched the chem-trails move out until the entire sky is covered with flimsy, thin cloud cover. It is not the regular exhaust coming from the plane it is something they are spraying. It is there in plain sight. What is it they are leaving behind that covers the sky?
Things are happening all around us that we see everyday and just don't get what it is. I think we throw the "conspiracy theory" at people when we don't understand or have the information they have so we try and explain it that way. Plus we just don't want to believe that our government would do anything terrible to us. Well, just a few examples, the IRS attack on the Tea Party, Benghazi, wire taping, Fast and Furious just to name a few and we think that they would not manipulate our weather?

Wow, that drove the crazies out of the woodwork like swarms of termites during spring mating season.  A few choice examples lifted verbatim from the same Facebook page:

"You go girl! We used to have articles about this all the time and it is real and it is poison in the air and it is happening over Snowflake. I used to see it all the time. We had letters from construction workers and others who swear that they got sick after every dump in the sky. It got so bad that some crews when they saw them would just home and hide in their houses. Thank you for saying what needs to be said. And, by the way, we were the first on the mountain that reported on the New World Order and on the Continental Super-Highway over 10 years ago. SWe were right then and you are right now! Please go shut down that puppy mill that I told you about. It's sick and you would cry if you saw it and smelt it. Love you!?
" have lots of photos I have taken over the years of the planes making "X" in the sky. Seems like a day or so later lots of peopl get sick. I call it population control..... hmmmmm"
 "It's ridiculous. Is there any way we can get them to stop making chem trails? Are there bills we can pass that they can't do it in the state of AZ? And while we're looking at issues to stop or protect ourselves from, is there anything we can do to protect our state from Common Core? Happy 4th of July, btw"

Admittedly, we have a while to go before 2020. And I know that by November 2016 you’ll probably be all politicked out. So do me a favor. Just print out this post and stash it in a safe place. Four years from now, you’ll have physical proof that you read it here first.

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog

Friday, December 25, 2015

Attention Republican property owners: Get Congress to declare war on ISIS and you’ve just handed yourself a huge insurance bill

Guess what Republican
war fever will do to your
homeowner's insurance
Ever since 9-11, when terrorist hijackers flew separate airplanes into each of the twin towers, the insurance industry has been scrambling to cover its butt.

Little wonder. The original claims of the landlord there, Larry Silverstein, came to the tune of $7.1 billion. He didn’t collect nearly that much because the insurance companies didn’t want to cough up that kind of money, so they fought him bare knuckles to a lower sum. 
No surprise there. Whether it’s health insurance, car insurance or office building insurance, insurance companies hate to fork over the moolah. To paraphrase a line of advertising — from an insurance company advertising campaign, as it happens — not paying claims is what you do.

Most property insurance, whether it’s for homeowners, home renters, or for commercial office buildings, have “exclusions” for incidents like Al Queda or ISIS blowing up the premises. If you want to be covered against acts of terrorism, you have to buy, and pay through the nose for extra coverage to override that exclusion. 

Fine. But now along come a bunch of Republican presidential wannabes, drumming up a “war” on ISIS. Or ISIL. Or Daesh. Whatever the hell you want to call it. Rand Paul says we should declare war on them. Jeb! Bush says we should declare war on them. The Donald, forgetting all the property he'd have to carry additional coverage on, also says declaring war on ISIS is a good idea. Ted Cruz seems to believe the war is already declared.

Moreover, the usual suspects are also rousing the rabble to demand a declaration of war, including pundit Charles Krauthammer and the conservative Washington Journal.

Meanwhile, back in insurance company office towers, the insurance biggies are rubbing their hands together with glee. See, if it’s determined we’re “at war” with ISIS, instead of merely trying to slap them down and stomp on them like the lowlife terrorist enterprise they are, you’re going to need a third kind of insurance, “act of war insurance,” to cover your home or office building. That's in addition to fire insurance. And terrorism insurance. Which means more money will jump  out of your pocket and into the insurance companies’ treasuries.

Corporation will also pay. And since property values of skyscrapers and office parks can run into the billions, they’ll have to pay a pretty penny.

That is, they’ll have to pay unless they’re foolish enough to think they can send the bill to Jeb!, Ted, The Donald, and Charlie the K, and wait to see which of them wants to part with five or six billion bucks. Any guesses about whether any of them will volunteer to write the check?
Cross-Posted at No More Mister Nice Blog 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A highwayman gets captured. Now, will he be appropriately punished?

Here are five words you never want to hear somebody say to you: “Your money or your life.”

In fact, in 18th Century England, if you failed to fork over every penny you had when a highwayman interrupted your journey,  it might be your money and  your life. You would be shot down and left to die at the edge of the road, your pockets rifled anyway.

Little wonder highwaymen were treated unkindly by the courts, often hanged en masse, in public, in England, or beaten until their bones were broken, and beheaded in France. (See illustration at the bottom of this post.)
Smug highwayman Martin Shkreli. When criticized for 
outrageously jacking up the price of a once-cheap lifesaving
drug for his own profit he tweeted in response, "LOL"

Now the authorities have captured a modern highwayman. His named is Martin Shkreli.

Martin Shkreli bought a company that made a drug AIDS victims need on a daily basis to survive and raised the price from $13.50 a dose to $750. He effectively said to thousands, if not millions, of AIDS victims, “Your money or your life. Fork over more than a quarter of a million dollars a year to me, or die.”

It was all perfectly legal. Someone who has the money to buy a company is allowed to buy it. And a company that wants to raise the price of a drug can raise it. And humanity be damned.

Except for one thing. Psychopaths enjoy what they do. Whether it’s the perverse lust for power, or a greed-filled adrenalin rush, or a total lack of human empathy, psychopaths are likely to be serial criminals.

And so it’s not surprising that the F.B.I. found a pattern of behavior in smug-faced Shkreli’s past that is prohibited by the criminal law. He not only seems to enjoy ripping off sick people. He also is charged with having ripped off his own investors.

Specifically the U.S. Attorney has charged Shkreli with seven criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Let us hope that when Shkreli’s  trial comes along, defense lawyers won’t flimflam the jury. And let us hope that the judge legally can, and will have the courage to, impose the maximum penalty for each count. Serially. Because we no longer can legally hang him. Or do this to highwaymen, as they did in 18th Century France:

Monday, December 14, 2015

Five rumors invented by this blog to concern, alarm, excite, and inflame the paranoia of panicky Republicans

I haven’t posted for the past few weeks because I’ve been left almost dumbstruck by the extent of small-mindedness, unreasonable “reasoning,” fake science, complete disregard for facts, insane rants, and other thinking , either of the stupid or the neo-Nazi kind, that seems to be prevalent in the Republican party.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? That Cruz, and Carson, and Christy, and Carly, and Trump, and (ad infinitum) are full of crap? That it’s alarming how we are tumbling pell mell down the slippery slope toward totalitarianism? That the denial of science is not only stupid but suicidal for the planet? That allowing only “Christians” to immigrate to this country is a de facto establishment of religion in violation of the United States Constitution?

Nah! It’s all being said. Over and over again. And meanwhile, rumors, misinformation, outright lies, and filthy slanders abound to reinforce either the sclerotic Congressional status quo, or the candidacy of whacko Republican candidates. 
One of Trump's towers. Why so big? The
grainy secret is revealed in this blog post.

So if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em. Here are some rumors I’ve deliberately invented, just to see if the stuff that springs from my head is as good as the stuff that springs from Republican heads. 

1. What the Trump towers are really for.  There are several Trump towers in New York City. One is at Columbus Circle. Another on Fifth Avenue. Still another on First Avenue near the UN building. Other tall buildings bear his name on the Upper East Side. Why so many? Well, currently they contain  hotels and the apartments of millionaires and billionaires. But that is only temporary. Long term, comes the world wide famine caused by global warming, they will be used to store grain.

2. Global warming is real, but not for the reasons you think. Yes, there is an international conspiracy of scientists who are trying to keep the truth from you. They have been paid off by the oil industry and Big Government “libtards” to avoid the total panic that might occur if everyone knew the truth.

The truth is that the earth is heating up because the planet has been knocked off its axis and out of its orbit by too much and too-powerful fracking. Earth is now racing toward the sun on an erratically spiraling path that makes us feel too hot one day, too cold the next. But in the long run, we will all be fried, baked and barbecued alive by solar heat. 
Jeff Bezos in his space duds, practicing
to flee Earth with his fellow billionaires
before we're swallowed up by the sun.

In fact, the reason some billionaires like Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic) and Jeff Bezos  (Amazon) are pioneering “commercial” space travel is, they’ve been tipped off that we’re heading on a wobbly course to the solar crematorium. 

Their plan is to sell one-way tickets to another planet for $800,000,000 per seat, economy class, more for Business and First Class. Better upgrade if you can. Seventeen months in a narrow Coach Class seat could be mighty painful on your read end. And yes, baggage, meals and even use of the toilet will be extra. You don’t have that kind of money? Even for Economy? Then you’re toast, pal. Literally.

3. The blonde boy from Brazil.  The late author and playwright Ira Levin, an agreeable guy who at one time was my neighbor, wrote a book called "The Boys From Brazil." It's about a bunch of little Adolph Hitlers, cloned from the original, placed strategically by old Nazis to take over the world. The book later became a movie.

Well, Ira was partly right. There is one “boy from Brazil.” And don't be surprised if you learn that he's Donald Trump. But The Donald was not cloned from Hitler. He was a frozen embryo, fathered not by Fred Trump or by Cranky Adolph, but by Reinhard Heydrich, the “blond beast of the S.S,” who gained Hitler’s favor by making statements such as, “We will Germanize the Czech vermin,” and later became known as “The Butcher of Prague.” 

Reinhard Heydrich (right) with
Henrich Himmler. Note that 
Heydrich was photographed
with his hat on. Want to guess
what's under there?
Heydrich was every bit as good at spreading hatred as Trump is, but other parallels are equally eerie. Both Hydrich and Trump had several wives.  Both were military school cadets, Trump at the now-defunct New York Military Academy. (And by the way, what happened to Donald Trump’s school records, once kept at the military school? Hmm?) Both Heydrich and Trump were efficient organizers and builders. 

Ominously, one of Heydrich’s biographers wrote of him: “Among a crowd of lackeys, imbeciles and unredeemable thugs, Heydrich stands out as the one man who not only seethed with utter hatred mixed with emotional indifference for the welfare of others, but also knew exactly how to do something about it. He was, at that iron heart, a psychopath.”

Need proof that The Donald is The Blond Beast’s frozen embryo son? Notice that Donald Trump has never shown you his birth certificate. Not a legitimate one, at any rate. How can he, when he was born in a test tube? 

4. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are part of a sleeper cell. No no, not Muslim. Cuban. Their so-called “conservative” leanings are only a ruse. They were sent here by Fidel Castro to take over the government by becoming President, and then turn the United States into a Cuban communist satellite. There are two of them so in case something happens to one of them, there will still be another. Mark my words, in 30 years, if the Earth hasn’t been swallowed up by the sun yet, you’ll be speaking Spanish with a Cuban accent, and  driving a 30-year-old Chevrolet .

5. Carly Fiorina is the illegitimate daughter of Leona Helmsley, the Queen of Mean. Or maybe of Cruella de Vil. I mean, what proof do you Little People need?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Live from New York! It’s the Republican Clown Car whining for attention!

Republican presidential candidates
demand the right to the same public
air time NBC gave another clown
Where is Dr. Freud now that we need him?

It seems like an increasing number of Republican presidential candidates are now suffering from a pathological case of Trump Envy. 

They are whining out of the mouths of their press agent that they want all the attention that Trump has received. Well, not the attention that he received everywhere. Just the attention he received when he was a guest on Saturday Night Live.

Or so we must believe if we read Variety, increasingly the newspaper of record concerning the orgy of showbiz and political miscegenation that characterizes the general Republican ethos these days. Well, the New York Times has also covered this, but the rest of the press? Hah! Anyway, back to the story:

As you may remember, Donald Trump appeared for  twelve minutes and five seconds on Saturday Night Live l recently. Since Trump can be charitably regarded as an entertainer, although not really as either a politician or a serious presidential candidate, his appearance, for all of those twelve minutes and five seconds, made a kind of sense. He's a clown. The SNL cast clowned around with him.

But now some of Trump's rivals in the Republican clown car are demanding their own twelve minutes and five seconds of fame, too. That’s less than the 15 minutes of fame the late Andy Warhol said everybody would eventually enjoy. But it’s exactly, down to the last second, what the law says they’re entitled to.

Pause here to mention the five attention-hungry whiners. They’re George Pataki, John Kasich, Lindsay Graham, Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore. Jim Who? Well he’s on the ballot somewhere-or-other, so he’s entitled to twelve minutes and five seconds, too.

See under FCC rules…well, let Nick Cosanti of the New York Times explain it.
Federal Communications Commission regulations state that other candidates for president are entitled to “equal time” on the network when a broadcast event isn’t a “bona fide newscast,” “bona fide news interview,” “bona fide news documentarty” or “on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events. 
By law, NBC is not required to give [the candidates] exactly the same treatment as that received by Mr. Trump, meaning that there will probably not be a Mike Huckabee-hosted “S.N.L.” anytime in the neat future. The network is just required to give equal time for the candidates to reach a relatively equal audience.”
So Pataki the forgotten governor, Kasich the other governor, Mike the Huck, Lindsay the G, and Whatsisname may be negotiating a deal for free advertising time on various affiliate stations. The pressure is on NBC and its affiliates, but not on Saturday Night Live, which caused this headache for the people who broadcast their show.

Seems to me the broadcasters are passing up a huge opportunity here, the 21st Century equivalent of locking malefactors in the public stocks in the town square and letting people throw eggs at them. 

The broadcasters should lean on SNL to put each on of these clowns on their show for exactly twelve minutes and five seconds. This would deliver just about precisely the same audience, in exactly the same time slot, which gets the fairness issue out of the way.

As a comedy show, SNL was able to dictate to Donald Trump exactly what it would or would not allow on its show. (Trump was free to accept or decline.) SNL should do the same with The Five Clowns. In fact, I like that concept.

For example, each of the whining Republicans could be required to wear a clown suit while appearing on the show. Costumes would be chosen by the producers of Saturday Night Live. And the skits?

Well, I think Mike the Huck should judge a wet T-shirt contest, during which some shapely women and Mike would be wetted down with hoses while the women dance. Mike would be entitled to preach about abortion and same sex marriage while the hoses are on him and the wet dancers are gyrating. Maybe we could get a few gay dancers in there, too.

Pataki’s clown suit act should include a dunce cap. He should be made to write on a blackboard 100 times, “I will not have the unmitigated gall to run for President again.”

Lindsay the G should be fitted with an elaborate Pinocchio nose, which grows longer as he recites his litany of complaints against President Obama.

John Kasich should be required to repeat his not-quite-famous lame “joke” about abolishing teachers lounges, while members of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers throw cow pies at him.

And Whatsisname could explain who he is.

What if the candidates refuse to accept? Well, they were offered equal time, to do comedy on the same program. The obligations of NBC, and for that matter of SNL will be discharged.

But I do hope SNL makes the offer. And I can’t wait to see who accepts and what the show looks like.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

How did Melissa Click ever get on the University of Missouri journalism faculty in the first place?

Melissa Click, the former journalism
 professor who protested against journalism,
 but evidently never did much —if any
— of it.
So in the midst of real life-and-death stuff — I’m thinking especially of the terrorist attacks in Paris—we 
had a tempest-in-a-teapot event last week.

It involved a journalism professor at the University of Missouri who tried to keep young journalists from covering a public event in a public space.

She apologized and resigned from the faculty where she had a “courtesy appointment,” whatever that means, as Assistant Professor of Journalism.

No big deal. Or so I thought until I sat through 12 minutes and 41 seconds of the event. The event's purpose, whatever it was, has been drowned out and forgotten by the behavior of  Click and the other demonstrators. The video is below. Scroll down now if you must, but then come back here.

Instead of what might have been a forgotten protest event, what we now have is something else:  a permanent Internet exhibition of classic Brownshirt behavior aimed solely at pushing people around and trying to make sure nobody gets to cover whatever the protest was supposedly about.

What the video reveals to me is that what I thought was a brief outburst by Click that seemed to be calling for an assault (“Can we have some muscle over here?”) was instead something much more ominous — part of at least 12 minutes of orchestrated pushing and shoving, aimed and keeping whatever it was they were up to from going public. 

Getting out information is exactly what journalism is supposed to be about. And one of the first rules of misbehavior in front of the media is precisely what Donald Trump has been teaching the world in recent months. If you want attention, behave like an idiot, a willful child, or a fascist thug. Take your pick.

So it’s proper that Melissa Click resigned. It would have been equally proper to fire her had she not resigned. But what puzzles me is how she ever got hired in the first place.

Journalism is both a difficult craft and a noble profession, and among the most underpaid and insecure in both categories. These days many reporters need to shoot video, and take notes, and chase after quotes, and write accurate stories, and put out regular tweets, pretty much all at the same time.

There are plenty of seasoned journalists who are out of work, the consequence of too many publications having slashed staff, or folded, as the disruption of the Internet continues wreaking its havoc.

So surely, I thought, Melissa Click must have paid her journalism dues to join the faculty of a once-and-presumably-still prestigious journalism school. 

Maybe she had been a reporter covering breaking news, or doing investigative reporting for the Washington Post, or the New York Times, or the Los Angeles Times.

Maybe she’d been a magazine writer for The New Yorker, or the Atlantic, or what’s left of Time or Newsweek. 

Maybe she’d been an online reporter. Slate, for example.

No dice.

Yes, she has published. But it’s the kind of stuff you’d expect from a professor of sociology desperately thrashing about to publish some kind of subject matter and avoid the academic equivalent of perishing. In fact,, if you check out Click's CV, you’ll her effort has been focused just about solely on academic  journals and books. 

For example: There's her book chapter, "Fifty Shades of postfeminism: Contextualizing readers’ reflections on the erotic romance series. In E. Levine (ed.) Feeling Feminine: Popular Culture for Women in the Early 21st Century."

Or her 2010 co-authored article “Aubrey, J. S., Behm-Morawitz, E., & Click, M. A. (2010). The romanticization of abstinence: Fan response to sexual restraint in the Twilight series. Transformative Works & Culture, 5. Available at:

She evidently went from undergraduate work at James Madison University, to graduate school at the University of Masschusetts, and then straight to the University of Missouri faculty without ever passing a newsroom. At least that's what both her CV ad her Linked-In page indicate.

Which raises at least a couple of  questions. What were they thinking at the University of Missouri when they hired her? And what are they teaching in a journalism school that’ll prepare the kids there to cover news, or investigate what's behind the news?

Or is a University of Missouri journalism degree in today's tight job market as useless as a degree from a for-profit university?

Okay, here’s the co-author of “The romanticization of abstinence: Fan response to sexual restraint in the Twilight Series” doing her number which I’ll call, “Academics and Totalitarianism: Incomprehensible Role Model Behavior of Faculty and Students For No Comprehensible Reason in Post-Journalism America"

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Crybaby Republican Presidential candidates want to pick up their marbles and go home. Let them.

Donald Trump as a baby. Or is it Jeb Bush? Or Carly
or Marco, or Ben, or...wait a second! Maybe it's one
of them today.
Oh, the poor babies! They got asked such mean, mean questions during the last Republican debate. Like where they were getting their facts from — obviously a gotcha question. Although come to think about it, it’s only a gotcha if you’re lying through your teeth or making stuff up.

But probing questions are  “petty and mean spirited” says Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus. 

Y’see, it’s petty to ask people who intend to run the United States of America how they’re going to do it. We should all just take their word that they know what they’re doing. And I will, as long as, say, Ben Carson will allow me, with my degree in English Literature, and a lifetime spent in the writing  trade, will allow me to do brain surgery on him.  Hey Ben, trust me. I know what I'm doing. I read about it in a book.

Back to Reince Preibus, who said the moderates of the last Republican debate “should be ashamed” for calling out the Republican Pinocchios. The Republicans didn’t collect tons of money from billionaires just to get asked what the hell they’re talking about when they say they can cut taxes on billionaires, cut holes in the social safety net big enough to let a truck fall through, reduce spending, and still make us all rich.

So the Republican Naitonal Committee is now saying it will not continue with plans for a scheduled February 26th debate on NBC, which of course is a media property of CNBC.

Know what? Hold the debate anyway. The desperate ones, the ignored ones, the narcissistic ones all will come, eager for a little bit of extra attention. And we can have empty chairs with the names of the no-shows, just so the American public will see the ones who say they’re brave enough to stand up to Putin when in truth, they can’t even stand up to a probing question.

If we don't do that, we'll be forced to listen to pure drivel at the next Republican propaganda festival. Expect questions like this:

"Candidate X, you promise to honor the concerns of American families. Are you a family man? And as a followup to that, how much do you love your children. Okay, let me ask a real tough follow up to your last answer Do you love your children as much as you love Jesus?"

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Republican Congressmen to Science: “Lalalala I can’t hear you. Shut up! I don't want to know.”

Is this Congressman Lamar Smith of
Texas? The ape is acting like him. Or
maybe it's vice-versa.
Up in Greenland, some scientists are risking their lives to measure the rate at which the Greenland ice sheet  is melting. Read about it here.

Why do the young scientists take such life-threatening risks? Because it will give the world better information about how high and how fast the melting ice will raise the tides, inundating coastal cities, or at least big chunks of them, around the world. What the scientists learn may save thousands —or millions — of lives. And you know what?

Republican Congressman are furious that people are finding this stuff out. The New York Times reports in the same story:
But the research is under increasing fire by some Republican leaders in Congress, who deny or question the scientific consensus that human activities contribute to climate change. 
Leading the Republican charge on Capitol Hill is Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House science committee, who has sought to cut $300 million from NASA’s budget for earth science and has started an inquiry into some 50 National Science Foundation grants. On Oct. 13, the committee subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking more than six years of internal deliberations, including “all documents and communications” related to the agency’s measurement of climate change.
The know-nothing Republicans remind me of the little kid who closed his eyes when he ran into speeding traffic across a busy thoroughfare. I guess he figured, if he didn’t see the cars, they couldn’t hit him.

As for Texas? Well, maybe after they kiss Galveston goodbye, they can swim after Congressman Smith and hold his head underwater.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Calling all class action lawyers. Here’s a possible golden opportunity for a double-header.


Recently, Mac computer users were pestered by Apple to upgrade their operating systems to something called “El Capitan.” I’m one of them.

I should have known better. Every time I upgrade at Apple’s behest, I get screwed. Last time, neither my old Microsoft Word program nor my old Quark graphics program would work with the new operating system. Apple failed to tell me this before I upgraded. 

Result: I had to buy a new Microsoft Word Program. I passed on Quark, since Quark now only rents access to its software. It’s so expensive that only a graphic designer with a steady cash flow from his operations could afford it. I’m not a graphic designer. It was just nice, sometimes, to lay out postcards with it. Goodbye Quark.

But neither of these is the big Class Action Opportunity I'm talking aboutHere it is:

Now Apple has done it again. This time they pestered me, and kept pestering me via little interruptive onscreen message to “improve” my “experience” with them by upgrading to El Capitan. So I did.

And now my Magic Jack telephone, which runs through my computer, won’t work. 

So I contacted Magic Jack’s online customer service. I’m not sure whether whether I chatted with an automaton or an idiot, but Magic Jack had bad news for me.

The automaton told me that they haven’t yet figured out how to fix the problem. And that they have no idea when they’ll be able to fix the problem — at least no idea that they’ll admit to. And that although I’m renting the phone service and separately a "vanity" telephone number from Magic Jack, they won’t give me a credit for the unknown number of months I won’t be able to use it.

That’s right. They took my money for a service they can’t provide. And if I don’t like it, their solution is not to give me a credit but to make me  buy more Magic Jack services from them. (You can’t make this stuff up. Wait until you read down and see the transcript.)

What’s more, since I conduct a business using my Magic Jack phone, I’ll have to go reprint my business cards, and maybe pay somebody to fix my business website. Both list my Magic Jack phone number. Obviously I can’t advertise a business with a non-working number.

There must be thousands of people like me. So  first Apple has screwed us  again by not warning us that their “improved experience” would screw up our Magic Jack telephone experience. And then Magic Jack is screwing us by outrageously demanding that they have a right to take our money without giving us the service we paid for.

Class action lawyers, do your stuff!

Below, a transcript of my “chat” with something or somebody at Magic Jack customer service named “Sally.”

    rn:widget path="chat/ChatOffTheRecordButton"/   Disconnect
Status: Connected

  Sally (Listening)
  Sally: Hi, my name is Sally. How may I help you? 
  New York Crank: Hi Sally. Last night, I upgraded the Mac to which my Magic Jack is attached to their new El Capitan operating system. Since then, magic jack hasn't worked. Since last night I've been getting a screen that begins "magickJack was unable to contact our registration server. Please check your Internet connection. Obviously, my Internet connection is working fine. How can I fix this? 
  Sally: Okay, 
  Sally: Thank you for addressing your concern. Let me assist you on that. 
  Sally: Please wait while I check that for you 
  New York Crank: Happy to wait. 
  Sally: Please be informed that the magicJack software is not yet compatible with the newly released OS X El Capitan MAC Operating System, Crank 
  Sally: Our engineers are still currently working out on the fixes in order for the compatibility issue between the magiCJack and this new OS to be fixed as soon as possible. For the mean time, you can use the magicJack device on lower version of the OS X El Capitan. 
  New York Crank: I don't have a lower version. I'm out a telephone. 
  Sally: I see, 
  Sally: For the mean time, please use the magicJack device on a computer that is not running on a OS X EL Capitan Operating system Crank.. 
  Sally: Our engineers will fix this compatibility issue as soon as possible 
  New York Crank: This is highly impractical for me most of the time. I'd like a credit until such time as service is available. 
  Sally: Unfortunately we cannot do that, Crank 
  Sally: Please extend you patience regarding on this matter, this will be fixed as soon as possible as more customers are now using the new OS X El Capitan MAC Operating System. 
  New York Crank: Well, don't you think that's a kind of a ripoff? Magic Jack sells me a system that's supposed to be compatible with my computer. It doesn't keep up with the changes so my Magic Jack become unusable. But then Magic Jack tells me, tough luck, pal. We're charging you anyway,. 
  New York Crank: This is a consumer fraud issue. 
  Sally: I understand your frustration on this Crank, we will fix this compatibility issue as soon as possible. 
  Sally: The old magiCJack device was created long ago and it cannot keep up right away with the latest technology. 
  New York Crank: And how long is "As soon as possible" in estimated hours? Or is it days? Or is it months? 
  Sally: You can choose to buy our advanced magicjack devices which can be used without a computer Crank 
  New York Crank: I can choose to pay you more, in other words. When do you estimate the system will be fixed. 
  Sally: I cannot provide your with an exact time frame regarding on this matter since this is being worked out on a different department from us.. 
  Sally: All our valued customers will know it once the feature to use the magicjack device on the new OS X EL Capitan is already available. 
  New York Crank: Thank you for a completely unsatisfactory answer. I'll limp along as best I can, borrowing a laptop from a friend to check my messages now and then. If this goes on too long, I plan to cancel my service and let people know why. Essentially Magic Jack's answer is, "We can't keep up with technology and we want our customers to pay for our inability." 

  New York Crank: I have nothing more to say about this matter. Let me know when Magic Jack is restored — or I'll let you know, eventually, if I want my service cancelled. Goodbye.