Troll Time!

A comment from a reader, MelH, arrived on my phone yesterday as I left the cemetery in Peekskill.  Mel was apparently upset about what he felt was my unfair depiction of loyal Trumper Corey Lewandowski’s pugnacious appearance before the House the other day:

Wow, you need to get control of your blood pressure or your widow will be the one spending your next welfare check. Stay tuned, the TRUTH is coming out in an outstanding Perp Walk I hope you enjoy.

I thought of replying “You’re as witty as your president, Mel.  Thanks for stopping by, my brother, sorry I got you so upset.  Now — back under your bridge with ya.” or something equally innocuous, then thought better of it.   What would the point be of calling a troll a troll?

The only reason I don’t get a lot of these wickedly funny troll type comments is because few readers actually encounter these words of mine, opinionated words that speak for themselves.   A marketing failure, no doubt, that I don’t attract more readers like MelH.   On the other hand, if thousands read these posts daily I’d likely get dozens of puckish trolls chiming in regularly, so maybe I’ll just be grateful and take my internet obscurity for the blessing it also is.

We are free — human, “person” and bot alike — to express our opinions here in the USA  a privilege we must not take for granted.  Some, of course, are more free to express themselves than the rest of us (since money is speech), but we still have a right to express our thoughts, ideas, feelings and theories.  What Vonnegut said about knees applies to our government-protected freedom of speech and expression as well: take good care of them, you’ll miss them when they’re gone!

It appears the premise of my post bothered Mel.  Perhaps he felt it was unfair of me to suggest that Lewandowski appeared with a phalanx of lawyers provided by the “White House”.   Low blow, a handful of lawyers cannot “flank” anybody (and what’s with all these so-called “quotation marks”?).   I suppose it was also a sign that I was blowing a gasket to mention that at least one of these lawyers angrily interrupted the chairman of the committee with desperate, baseless legal objections.   

I can only imagine what Mel would have written if I’d highlighted (or even mentioned) Lewandowski’s money shot of the day.  Confronted with the clip of himself lying on national television (claiming no knowledge of what he’d already told Mueller about in detail under oath) he said he had no obligation not to lie unless he raised his right hand to God and swore not to — in which case he always told the truth.  “I have no obligation to be honest with the media,” said Corey who then instantly did the classic Trump double down/distraction/reframe: the liberal media lies ALL THE TIME, so what’s the big deal if he does too (hypocrite libtard cucks)?!

We could go through my assertions about the session one by one, and Corey’s answers, as thoughtful people used to do in assessing which way to go when forming opinions.   Or, we can see what’s behind door number two (and aptly named it is, give a sniff), shall we?   A thrilling world beyond reason, the superior, exciting world of pure emotion!   

Mel apparently saw, even if he only read the first few sentences,  that I went on and on about what Lewandowski said and how he behaved, how the respective parties on the committee went about their business, or maybe he just read “Lawyered Up” and he was off and running.  Shoot, maybe it was my remark about Trump’s extra-legal insistence on “absolute immunity” in all matters, the novel presumption of an all-encompassing presidential privilege amounting to a binding, pre-emptive, non-written Non-disclosure agreement that legally silences everybody he’s ever talked to about anything.    I can see how that assertion of mine might rankle somebody who devoutly loves the forthright, transparent Mr. Trump and the great job he’s doing.

My “wife” and I are suddenly on welfare (how could we not be?!  you don’t have to be smart to get this masterfully coded n-word, LOL!).   I am about to have a fatal heart attack, you know, because that’s what happens when you exert yourself to write a lot of words.   You see how this works?   

Welcome to America 2019, bitches, just in time for 2020!

The Price of Shame

Monica Lewinsky, the onetime White House intern infatuated with Bill Clinton, has a great TED Talk called “The Price of Shame”.   In it she discusses her public shaming when details of her sexual affair with the president came out, including his semen on her blue dress, his penis in her mouth and his unlit cigar inserted tenderly into her vagina.   She was publicly humiliated and cyber-bullied as a result of these disclosures.  Her talk is excellent.

A friend of mine, also moved by her talk, tried to book her to speak at his local temple.   It turned out the temple did not have the budget to afford her speaking fee.  One of the prices of shame, apparently, if your shame has high enough public titillation value, is $20,000 to $50,000 per appearance.

I shit you not. 

Son of Why Do You Bother?

I was extremely reluctant to spend $152 for a pen, even a fountain pen with a beautifully flexible nib.  I’ve dreamed of a pen like that for years, but $152 seemed nuts.   I carry several favorite pens with me every day and their price in total doesn’t come near $100.   Which is not to say I don’t value each of my favorite pens greatly, I do.  A good pen is like a true musical instrument, one that stays in tune and is a pleasure to play.   You can’t make music without a true instrument, nor love the marks you make on a piece of paper without a pen that feels good leaving its mark.  

Still, $152 for a pen struck me as ridiculous, even in a store that sells $4,000 pens.   It was a beautiful pen, with a wonderfully flexible nib.  I tried it for a long time in the store and sighed when I handed the pen back to the salesman.   The salesman took the pen back when I told him I couldn’t spend that much for a fountain pen.   He smiled and said “you’ll come back for it.”

A few days later I did.  It quickly became my favorite pen.   The salesman had assured me that the soft, delicate, flexible nib was under warranty for three years.  That was reassuring, especially since, from the beginning the pen was temperamental, finicky.   It was a challenge to get it to write sometimes.  I learned a few tricks to gently help get the ink flowing.  I cleaned it with cool distilled water periodically.   I learned I had to use it every single day to keep it flowing.  My cheaper pens never hesitate, this little prima dona rarely wrote as soon as you picked her up.   I began carrying a little pill bottle filled with distilled water to clean the nib, on subways and wherever else I drew.  

Over the course of seven months I had worn the nib down, mostly from trying to get it to write when it didn’t feel like writing, and, eventually, found myself trying to write with the dreaded “sprung nib”.   This means the nib no longer flexes since it cannot return to its thin state, the tines being now permanently separated.   Picture two fingers splayed apart.  The pen is ruined.   I hesitated for a long time, dreading the likeliest outcome,  and finally brought it back to the “Fountain Pen Hospital” where I had purchased the fine writing instrument.  Sekhnet met me there for moral support. 

The kid at the counter was sympathetic when I told him how much I loved this pen and that the patient was in bad shape and needed a fountain pen hospital.   He recommended a place I could send it where they could fix the nib for about a hundred dollars.   I reminded him of the three year Namiki warranty.  The older man at the desk chimed in to tell me there was no warranty for the nib.  He told me he’d been doing this for sixty years and that nobody gives a warranty for a nib.   I told him what his salesman had told me.  He said it was impossible, Paul had worked for him for twenty-five years, he could not have told me the nib was under warranty.   Paul himself passed by a few times.   I was clearly a desperate man, lying, and Paul was cool as a cucumber, his boss had his back.

I somehow left the store without expressing any anger and walked away feeling a little bit kicked in the balls, but there was little I could do but call the number the kid had given me and plead my case to Namiki/Pilot.   I’m not optimistic there either, but it’s worth a shot.  Japanese companies still seem to take a pride in their products that American corporations have long ago realized is for losers.  

Our next stop was the Samsung store in the ultra-trendy Meat Packing District of New York City.   The guy who sets up the repair appointments admitted that the oversensitive moisture sensor of the Galaxy S-8 that prevents charging with a cable was a design defect.  They had fixed the defect in subsequent models, Jose said, examining my phone.    In high humidity the sensor goes off, and even though the phone is advertised as surviving immersion in water… but hold on.   My screen was cracked, my warranty was voided and I’d have to pay $249.99 for Samsung to correct the design defect that prevents me from charging the expensive phone with a cable.   Here is my cracked screen:


I snarled and stalked away from the guy to cool off, as Sekhnet continued to talk to Jose.   A large security guard, hearing my curses before I walked away from Jose, came over to stand guard nearby.   I calmed myself, looking into the distance, breathing slowly.  After a minute I  went over to the guard, who had been watching me.   I explained why I’d gotten angry and showed him the phone.   He agreed that the tiny scratch voiding the warranty was bullshit.   He agreed that corporations regularly fuck customers, it’s just part of their business plan.  Profit making means breaking a few balls here and there, no big deal for a “person” who only has one job, maximizing profit.   The security guard was a lovely guy.  I told him about “The Corporation”  available to watch on youtube, and he told me he’d definitely check it out.  My friendly chat with him helped calm me the rest of the way down.

I went back over to Jose and Sekhnet to confirm my appointment for the following day and Jose said he hadn’t made the appointment since I’d walked away from him.  I told him he would have walked away too.   He admitted he probably would have. “I can’t lie,” he said, as likable a response as you could hope for in that circumstance.   I’ll be going over there in a couple of hours to have the phone ‘s design defect repaired, the battery replaced with an improved one, the screen replaced.   All for only $249.99 plus tax.   Minus the 15% goodwill discount Jose said he’ll give me, which brought the actual price down to a mere $230.43.  

Minor interaction in an art supply store we went to next left me feeling no better.   The manager was confused and defensive regarding a refund for a bunch of piss-poor nibs I’d bought in another store of their chain.   She told me she couldn’t refund anything without the original packaging (they came out of boxes behind the counter, there was no original packaging), and that to her knowledge they didn’t make the 3B mechanical pencil leads I was looking for (I held up my pencil with the 3B lead in it– another branch a few blocks away, I learned later,  had it in stock)… etc.   I started getting pissed off and left my credit card with Sekhnet to take care of the business while I sat outside, calming myself, reading off my “cracked screen”.  A few minutes later Sekhnet handed me the receipt and I saw that, for whatever reason, $2.18 had been not refunded.   Well worth the price of not walking back into the store.

Then I remembered Sekhnet pays for insurance for the two phones, about $25 a month.  Almost 40 minutes on the phone with T-Mobile (the first 25 or so on hold, with a syphilitic robot periodically coming on to tell me to please continue to hold, we don’t value you pieces of shit enough to hire enough representatives, all of whom are busy helping other customers) eventually connected me to the third party that Sekhnet pays to insure both of our fancy phones.  

I could send my phone in, they’d send me a temporary replacement phone, and they’d do the repairs for only a $175 deductible (about $60 less than Jose’s place which will do everything within 3 hours today).  I asked her what the deductible is if the phone is lost or stolen.  $175 she said.

“So your company’s policy incentivizes fraud,” I said, “I’d be better off just tossing the phone into the nearest sewer, or selling it to a crackhead for $20 and reporting it stolen.”

“Well, that’s why our rates and deductibles have to be high, because people take advantage of insurance companies, that’s why it’s so important for us to be watchful for fraud,” she said pleasantly.  

“No,” I told her, ” that’s insurance industry b.s..  Your rates and ‘deductibles’ are high because insurance companies are in business to pay out as little as possible.   It’s a fabulous scheme as far as your profits go, even if a bit sleazy, though nothing personal, you sound like a very nice person.”  

I managed again, for a third time in a few hours, not to get unreasonably angry.  One’s asshole eventually gets used to the uninvited probes, I suppose. 

If the corporation was actually a person it would be someone like Donald Trump.  They owe nothing to anybody.   They are incapable of real conversation, of any kind of mutuality, really.  They control the terms of every interaction.   They refuse to lose, or even compromise, no matter what the price.  They can never admit wrongdoing, nor can they apologize.  They do what they do because the law allows it, or at least does not explicitly proscribe it.   If it comes to it, they’ll  change the law to make their latest profit-increasing scam legal.   They have an army of lawyers, on salary, just waiting around to make their boss’s day.   Ever been sued by a billionaire?  Nothing like it, boys and girls.   

Capitalism, its defenders always say, is the most accurate reflection of human nature.   It is an expression of human freedom that incentivizes creativity and innovation, rewards the entrepreneurial spirit, maximizes liberty and the pursuit of happiness for everyone.  These defenders are always at least moderately wealthy. Those who do not fare as well under the Darwinian law of the jungle may be excused for seeing the out of control greed-driven psychopathic form of capitalism that is currently energetically destroying our habitat as a reflection of only a certain facet of human nature:  the insanely greed-driven psychopath.    

A powerful church that rapes children and protects the rapists is… we may as well just say it, even if the Pope can’t … evil in the eyes of Jesus, and of every dispassionate child you can ask.   An economic system that makes obscene wealth possible for a very few and a decent lifestyle possible for another 10% or so, while creating health-destroying insecurity or inescapable poverty for many times that number… and unspeakably brutal  poverty for billions more worldwide, the unseen collateral damage of the global “free market”, well, you do the math.

And have a blessed day…

Prisoners of Technology

Young people today may be the true heirs of the information age.  They were born with the sum total of the world’s accumulated information and opinion in their pockets, instantly accessible on phones so smart they can anticipate what we want to know.   Those born with this amazing power feel they are the best informed generation in history.   Maybe they are.  

The great educational innovator Sugata Mitra claims that students no longer need to memorize long lists of dates, famous names, salient facts etc. since everything of that sort can be found instantly on-line.   I’m no longer so convinced on this particular point by the extremely convincing Mr. Mitra, though I am a big fan of his theories of how we learn, how we are born wanting to learn.

As others have pointed out, what happens to the holder of the sum total of the world’s acquired information when your phone is out of battery life, if the power grid or internet goes down, in the event of a large scale emergency where smart phones no longer operate?   We are dependent on technology to an extent never before seen in the ravaging reign of homo sapiens, the earth’s apex predator and determined destroyers of our own habitat, if there is enough money to be made doing so (and, to be honest, even if not).

I’m just bitchy because my expensive new phone is messed up.   A month ago it was near an open window during a rain storm.    It didn’t get wet, but was exposed to 100% humidity.   It would not charge after that, giving me a shrill warning to immediately disconnect it–  “moisture has been detected!”.   Fortunately, it could be charged on a wireless dock.   Another popup message a few days later informed me that it could take some time for the detected moisture to disappear.   Now it is a month.  

Last Saturday a technician at Best Buy, a nice fellow named Curtis, fixed the phone, it was able to take a charging cable.  He reset something, told me there was a problem with the sensor in this model of Samsung phone I have.   I was able to charge it with a cable.  Once.  Now it again warns me that I will do permanent damage to the phone, void the warranty, cancel my insurance policy, etc. if I leave it connected to a charging cable.

Customer service is no longer something we can expect just because we are customers.  The world is now way too smart for that.   That’s where our smartphone comes in, it helps us figure out how to get customer service.   Who knew the Samsung guy at Best Buy was my best bet?

I discovered, after Curtis didn’t fix it, that there is a Samsung store at 837 Washington Street, not hard for me to get to.   I can use my smartphone to make an appointment to see a brilliant technician there.   They can tell me how foolish I was not to back up the 3,000 photos randomly and without warning deleted from my phone a few weeks ago.   They can point me to the Android to Mac program I need to download on to my laptop so I can save data from an Android to an Apple computer.   Hopefully they can also fix the phone and allow me to charge it with a cable so I don’t have to keep my friend waiting another hour for lunch while the phone gets a trickle of a charge on the wireless dock.  Last I checked it was up to 61%.   Could be 70% by now…

Hopefully the insurance I pay every month will cover this repair of a very expensive phone and the $175 “deductible” won’t kick in.   Hopefully.

Look around and think about that “hopefully”.


A Grateful Thank You

To the following, who took a moment in 2017 to click at the bottom of a post and let me know they read and liked a particular piece of writing:

Tetiana Aleksina, Tony Single, Beautybeyondbones, mresnick12, Rezzy Rez, Richard Erickson, jm zook, Avishek Singh, Success Inspirers’ World, Chitkala Aditosh, The Human Anvil, Leo, amanhimself, Rick Lunkenheimer, Geeze, Tim and Joanne Joseph, invertedlogic blog, Dottie, taka186, lemanshots, PMu, yzandy, David Montaigne, nsnunag, DGGYST, The Electric Oracle, petplayful, catladylives, lightningdroplets, AATIF, Whiskey&Lemon, Frank Solanki, chineseforbeginnersblog, LittleFears, Dr. Joseph Suglia, BlueFishh, welovethesecats, Jack Bennett, rachelbchatty, kelseysimmonsschmitt, Linda J. Wolff, mumercise, phicklephilly, hipstersfoodies, ourpawsrock, Archee, gabfrab, thedanieldouglasblog, bg, Linda, lovehappyanimals, stunninganimalpics, begintobelieve, Elan Mudrow, hotworkouts, and classypuppies.

If I wasn’t such a lazy, tired, asthenic bastard I’d have posted a link for each of these blahgs.  Alas, I am. 

Thanks also to friends of mine who took a moment to let me know a post interested or moved them in some way.  Particular thanks to a steadfast and responsive reader in Gaj, Poland, an interactive reader in our nation’s capital, as well as one in Australia, one in Africa and another in the Ukraine.  Youse all rawk.

A special thank you to the silent majority who read these pages without comment, no doubt sucking your teeth.  

A happy, healthy 2018 to one and all!

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