Things are weird and getting more weird. #Manymanypeople are calling it the Toxic Trump Syndrome, synonymous with greed, intimidation, insensitivity, perversion and narcissism. Trump seems confused and depressed and indecisive. He doesn’t seem very excited about his new duties and he makes strange, contradictory and mindless statements.
The Toxic TrumpSyndrome is the topic of every street corner conversation. And right now is not a good time for him. The planet Mercury may be getting in the way of his humanitarian nature. Sounds crazy but stay with me.
Three different industries. Three bank account ripoffs. Same MO. No, it’s not identity theft. It’s outright illegal monetary theft. Companies you pay online or by phone for a product or service and to whom you entrust your credit card info, are taking a little more than they should and your bank is turning a blind eye.
These sample scenarios actually happened. Don’t let them happen to you.
Earlier this year, a friend told me her story about a car rental company that quoted her a nice price to acknowledge her repeat customer service. When she returned the car, she got slapped with a bill for nearly twice as much. She had the quote in writing but when she presented it, the company danced all around it with excuses and wouldn’t honor it. The charge remained on her credit card.
I told her she would have to write the manager and CEO, then contact the credit card company. She did. The issue was eventually resolved but she spent close to six hours between phone calls and research and writing letters and paying for certified delivery to ensure a receipt. The paper trail is always important, but labor-intensive. Most companies hope you won’t notice or won’t put up the good fight.
In the end, American business is in Trump mode. They WILL take your money and call it an “oversight.”
Scenario # 2
A senior we’ll call Jim, pays his auto loan on line. It’s NOT an automatic debit but of course the auto financial institution now has the checking account and associated ATM debit card info.
Jim checks his checking account frequently especially since he’s on a fixed income and has limited funds. While expecting a balance of approximately $700, he is shocked to see it is only $200 and some change. When he contacts the company, he gets a runaround but eventually, while admitting no wrongdoing, and blaming Jim for checking the wrong amount, the company says it will return the oversighted amount to his account within three to five business days.
Here’s the real stinker. After that time passes and the money has not been returned, Jim calls again. He is talking with a “bot” that repeats the same words no matter what his question. Finally, a human tells him they won’t be refunding the money they took but will instead send a check within seven to ten business days.
Imagine one institution doing this to just a million selected customers a day. Suddenly, it has hundreds of millions of dollars on its books for up to three weeks. They look great and the customer has a low or no balance.
Scenario #3: This one just happened and it happened to me.
I sever my ties with a cable TV company (you can figure it out) that has screwed me over too often. They send me a box to pack up my equipment. I take it to the post office as directed. All boxes and remotes and wires are enclosed.
The balance due on the service is $113. I used to pay the monthly fee on-line as do 80% of Americans. It is not an automatic debit. Cable companies (and some phone companies) charge you a month in advance, and I hate giving companies like this my money for services I have not received.
By the way, I’ve been looking into the legislation that allows them to charge a month in advance and its very complicated. “No one could have imagined how complicated.”
Imagine my surprise when I see this company has somehow taken $357 from my checking account. For what? The amount due to them is $113 and the normal bill date is 10 days out. A closer look shows $244 is billed for equipment not returned.
No, the equipment was returned. THEY just didn’t notice. So their motto is “Bill ‘em anyway.”
Further phone calls and in-depth investigation with my bank (among the top four internationally) and I am floored. (a) I can’t stop payment because it’s not a check. (b) I can dispute the charge but I have to contact the cable company first. (It’s 1:00 AM in the morning, so forget that.) And (c) as long as the company has your card info and previous transactions, they are free to post any transaction they like.
This is scary SH*T. There is no other way to express it. Imagine all the companies with whom you’ve done business and to whom you’ve entrusted your valuable credit card data. Any business with that info can levy a charge if they can justify it or take it, apologize or not and call it an oversight.
I call this money laundering. Sen. Elizabeth Warren- (D. MA) compared money laundering by banks (specifically directed to Wells Fargo) to drug possession, saying: “If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to go to jail… But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.”[
I encourage you, whether you’ve been a victim of this kind of fraud or not, to write to your senators and reps and to Sen. Elizabeth Warren U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Or write:
317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
2400 JFK Federal Building
15 New Sudbury Street
Boston, MA 02203
Phone: (617) 565-3170
If you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention.
Ever notice that some things we do in the name of justice, lead to unwittingly doing injustice to others?
It happens. Mostly because we don’t think through a scenario. We just hear about a new outrageous statement or event and click! It’s a way to cast a vote for humanity.
What Could Go Wrong?
Physics 101. Newton’s Third Law. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It was amazing to observe the perimeter aspects of that Third Law at work when the “Delete Uber” meme permeated social media channels in early February. It was something “we the people” could do to make our voices heard, especially since 90% of Congress doesn’t seem to listen to us.
We just wanted the attention of the owners of Uber. We wanted justice for Americans who want to live in a safe, peaceful, caring, just and honest society where lives are respected and civility is exercised. We’d like to enjoy a true and structured democracy with checks and balances to over-ride egregious errors in judgment and ensure no one is above the law. That’s all.
On hearing all the news pileups, we thought instantly that we could express our discontent by deleting Uber. And tweeting and blogging about the whole mess of bad memos, moves, reversals and lies. The guy who runs Uber is a friend of Trump’s and he did a bad bad thing. He said YES to joining Trump’s “Forum” of business leaders.
It seemed like a good idea at the time–deleting the Uber app. It seems that the mass outcry made a difference. A little. But the quote by Kempis warns us to consider inherent trigger factors such as distraction and lack of discipline.
However, “Not every affection which seems good, is to be immediately followed.”
As more than 200,000 Uber account holders, deleted their Uber apps (some uninstalled the account) Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick resigned from President Trump’s economic advisory forum, a group of billionaire business giants formed to advise Trump on job growth. SCORE for the 98 percent. Only problem is the guy at the bottom, the one the Uber-deleters were representing, the Uber driver, got burned at the same time.
Rewind. On January 27,2017, a series of near-simultaneous events, starting with Trump’s ban on immigrants entering the United States, from selected Muslim-majority countries, resulted in thousands of travelers detained and stranded at major airports and resulted in unhappy Uber customers. That means a bad night for Uber drivers.
Here’s the best timeline I can piece together.
·Friday, January 27-Trump signs executive order to ban some Muslims entering the country, followed by
·un-countable street protests and exchanges of pros and cons via social media, and
·a one hour boycott of JFK Airport by an affiliation of New York cabbies, which prompted
·a memo heard ‘round the world’ that the CEO of UBER (rider services) Travis Kalanick, allegedly sent to his UBER team telling them-in Uber-code-that surge costs to consumers would be decreased and there were lots of NYC cab spots open (not nice)
·a closer look at Kalanick which revealed his ties to Trump, and triggered stories of his profiting from the cabbie boycott
·a counter move by the social media circuit to delete the UBER app from their devices, in support of Muslim communities and in protest of Kalanick’s ties to Trump
·Kalanick’s resignation from the billionaire-club
For those of you who deleted Uber, you made an impact—enough to get Kalanick to step off. So even if the idea was to boycott the company in protest, you couldn’t hit ’em where it hurts for as long as you needed to because you found out that Uber’s competition, LYFT has its own set of issues. Uber came out this time with a few bruises–mostly ego–but only because Kalanick didn’t want his inclusion in the forum to be “misconstrued as an endorsement of the administration’s policies” and because some very brave employees challenged him to walk the talk.
However, that deleted app may have hurt hundreds if not thousands of Uber drivers who earn relatively low wages as independent contractors. In the Bay Area, it’s roughly $10- $12 an hour in a six hour day. I have it from decent sources that the average pay may be higher in New York and Los Angeles. That’s not bad for a college student who wants to earn pocket change, but for a driver who really counts on it to feed a family, it’s quite simply indentured service wages, especially when you add gas, and wear and tear on your car. So, there’s that.
Even though I may inadvertently draw more negative attention to Uber with this writing, these growth tech companies have to decide and be held accountable. Clearly, it’s difficult to be associated with Mr. Trump and notbe seen as a supporter. Times are hard. Tips are rare. The kids all need new underwear. Most of Silicon Valley knows this. Kalanick took a foolish step. Maybe he’ll know better next time after a refresher course in physics.
“The backlash illustrated the difficult path ahead for technology executives in working with Trump in a bitterly divisive political climate. Protests were scheduled to take place at Uber offices around the country on Thursday.”
Fast forward. Here are the remaining “Forum” members in the event you need to unleash some anger and make a difference. Just think it through.
Stephen A. Schwarzman (Forum Chairman), Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone;
Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission;
Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors;
Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic;
Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co;
Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock;
Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company;
Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group;
Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.;
Jim McNerney, Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing;
Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners;
Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM;
Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System;
Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY;
Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric;
Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit
J.P. Morgan Chase’s Dimon, 60, by the way, is a self-described Democrat who has shown a liberal stance.Fink, 64, has criticized Donaldin the past. He was on a rumored shortened list of candidates for Treasury secretary under Hillary Clinton, if she had won.
So, who’s next? And why?
And how? Depends on what you know and when you know it. And which button you hit. Just remember, your action triggers an equal and opposite reaction. If you boycott a Disney movie because the Disney CEO is on the forum, you might see higher costs at movie theaters. And some very unhappy Disney movie fans.
All week, many many people were asking if they could impact ratings for the inauguration by not watching. The short answer is sorry, but no.
Anti-Trump Facebook friends began circulating a call-to-action to boycott the inauguration on TV by turning to another channel today (January 20). They thought they had found an effective way to force the TV ratings for the inauguration to plummet. This would have been a huge blow to Donald Trump’s fragile ego. He is obsessed with ratings.
In theory, it’s a great idea but it wouldn’t have worked unless you are a member of the Neilsen family. Neilsen pretty much has a monopoly on ratings gathering. The company has been around since the 1950s. But with the debut of DVRs and later, Internet streaming, they have re-invented themselves and their information-gathering techniques many times. This from Neilsen via www.snopes.com/change-channel-on-inauguration/
“…. Nielsen’s U.S. TV families represent a cross-section of representative homes throughout the country. We measure viewing using our national and local people meters…and we have TV set meters in many local markets. We collect more than two million paper diaries from audiences across the country each year during “sweeps” — specific periods during the months of February, May, July and November. To measure video content viewed on mobile devices, we have expanded our panels to incorporate census-style data from third parties in order to capture the breadth and depth of consumer usage.”
Short story: Neilsen is watching you watch, but it’s a relatively small sampling. Still, it is the respected measuring device of TV-land. In fact it is probably the only such operation. Arbitron used to be in the game but Neilsen inched them out long ago. Personally, I suspect any TV coming off the assembly line in the past two years has been equipped with a non-disclosed chip that is the building block for future shock. It’s the “We see everything you see” mentality “and you have no clue.”
Bill Scher in New Republic, January 11, 2017 reminds us that the protests, marches, petitions, phone calls are “..fine ways to participate in our democracy” but adds there is one other tactic that is guaranteed to rattle Donald Trump the most with the least amount of effort: Don’t watch him. “
The problem is unless you have a Neilsen box or turn in a Neilsen diary, you weren’t counted. Just do a straw poll to see who watched or did not. Start with me. And my family. Just on general principle and private boycott, we watched ESPN.
OK, so we’ve (almost) all figured out that the U.S. semi-president-elect (at this point, we’re not sure about his status) has NPD or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Pity him for his mental disorder, but don’t be fooled. You probably don’t need to worry so much about him as you should about the people he’s appointing. Sadly, the entire cabinet so far, looks like a DT clone, although some appointees may be narcissistic without having full-blown NPD. There is a subtle difference.
How much do we know about the original Narcissus who has made his way into post-Greek mythology literature and whose name is nearly synonymous with the president-elect. Most of us only know he’s the Greek mythological hunk who fell in love with his own reflection. But, as usual, that’s not the whole story.
Here’s the short and most widely accepted background on the mythological Narcissus. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. He was predicted to live a long life as long as he never saw his own reflection.
Well, you know the temperament of those Greek gods. You just can’t upset them or they start wielding swords of wrath. The Greek God of Revenge, Nemesis attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he–Narcissus– saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with himself. Apparently Narcissus wasn’t very bright or had never seen a pool of clear water before since he didn’t realize he was staring at himself. But he just couldn’t break away from the beauty of his reflection and eventually lost his will to live. He stared at his reflection until he died. Legend has it that the flower we know as the narcissus or daffodil appeared in the area where he died.
There are a few other versions of the story explaining why Nemesis punished Narcissus and alternate explanations for Narcissus’ death. There’s an even more complex love triangle involving the nymph, Echo who was hopelessly in love with Narcissus. He basically told Echo to get out of his life but the Goddess Hera had a beef with Echo as well, so she really didn’t have a chance with Hera and Nemesis on her case for different infractions. http://bit.ly/2hkop1y
WHO’S THE BIGGEST NARCISSIST OF THEM ALL?
So we know that Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one’s physical appearance even though Narcissus was kind of tricked into looking at himself. Here’s the thing: you can be a narcissist and not necessarily have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” -Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic article explains if you have NPD, “… you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care [for yourself].”
Does this remind you of anyone?
“At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior…” [or tweet your contempt in all CAPS at 3 AM].”
Psychology Today says that narcissism is not as severe as NPD. “People who are narcissistic may be described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative, vain, demanding and feel they deserve special treatment.” (They love mirrors) But certain other “markers” for full blown NPD may not characterize the “normal” narcissist.
Come’on, you know who they are—the neighbor who monopolizes your time with his newest idea when you’ve been trying to leave for the past half hour[and you’re on crutches from recent surgery]; your boss who belittles you in front of your peers; your colleague who throws you under the bus, taking credit for your idea; the guy who won’t let you get a word in the phone conversation (although they may just be hard of hearing); the person who uses the word “I” excessively and seldom uses “you” in an empathetic manner; the professional interrupter, and yes, the people who seem to be constantly primping and looking at themselves. In this age, a person’s level of narcissism is probably being measured by the number of selfies she or he takes per day.
More than a few writers and psychologists have referenced narcissism for centuries. Havelock Ellis, a sexologist wrote in the late 1890s that “narcissus-like” behavior was related to excessive masturbation. OK, TMI. BTW, Ellis was known for aligning his writings with open discussion of sex education and pro-women’s rights. Sigmund Freud (of course) and Otto Rank also used the term in association with sexual perversion.
A handful of movies and TV shows also include the term. Examples: the Disney film Hercules; the 2011 film Seeing Heaven (where Narcissus is depicted in a painting); and the 1979 film Alien. Ah ha, missed that one? It’s the name of the escape hatch that Sigourney Weaver (Ripley) takes to get back to earth. Well, after all, it’s all about her or we wouldn’t have had a sequel or tri-quel.
T.S. Elliott summed it up nicely.
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm but the harm they cause does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in an endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
And at age 60, maybe 70, they still blame their mother.
You were so sure about this election, right? So was I. Now the people I meet–liberals and conservatives–tell me they are fearful. It’s a little too late for that. Time to get to work so this won’t happen again.
I handle social media for other people so I don’t have a lot of time to log on to my own feeds and timelines. Occasionally, I post @thinknicetwice on #Twitter where I try to promote civil and random acts of kindness and thank those who are trying to make things better. Something as simple as “Thanks for voting” or “What can we do about our archaic system?” or “How do we change or eliminate the Electoral College?
But here’s the thing: the recent election has spawned a river of hate that is becoming an alarming sea of loathsome hostility. Are we going to accept this malicious disease and do nothing?
A sample of what I call passive activism:
Actress/comedian Sarah Silverman requested in a recent tweet, “Call 202-255-5074 and say “I’m (name) and I am calling for a bi-partisan review of Trump’s financials and conflicts of interest. Good day!”
Then hang up. That’s it. You probably feel that you should do something but as Hamlet expressed regarding the gnawing choices he faced, “Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all.” Don’t be a coward. Be like Sarah.
If you consider yourself a decent, reasonable person who wants to voice a civilized opinion without being hateful (I didn’t say you couldn’t swear; just don’t be mean), say it on the social media platform of your choice.
I respectfully ask that you not follow @thinknicetwice just to build your followers’ list. I’m looking for basically good people who want to be and stay informed, and get involved!
I’m not seeing much in the way of civility these days. I know you feel me, no matter who you voted for. It’s been like this for a while, but it didn’t hit me hard until November 8, 2016 when my oh-so-confident-claire-voyant-self realized I was dead wrong. Trump was going to get that damned electoral vote!
My apologies for the quality of this graphic. Please visit www.statistic brain.com to get a non-blurry view. Only the first four lines are significant at this point. He got 306 electoral votes; she got 232. Rounded out and up, she got 64-million popular votes; he got 62-million. In other words, the PEOPLE voted for her. But the SYSTEM gave him the vote. More on how the electoral college works in another post. I have to figure it out myself first.
This, after I laughed derisively at his lies, his perverse persona, his hair, his surrogates and disgusting choices of potential cabinet members. This, after I too felt he might just have a shot, and encouraged collective thinking to ward off the possibility. This, after all the assurances I gave to friends and family and YOU, my loyal subscribers, that he would never even get close. This, after I asked everyone I knew and could reach, to please vote. I failed you.
HOW. DID. THIS. HAPPEN?
I FAILED YOU!
I am so, so very sorry. My normally spot-on functioning intuition somehow went awry on this one. I guess I felt that someone of Donald Trump’s character was not what a majority of our country really wanted as the leader of the free world. I had hoped we would handle that by voting responsibly. Part of the problem is that too many of you did not vote at all. To those who did, thank you.
When Trump insisted the election would be rigged, was it the first time he told the truth? Did he know something we didn’t–perhaps that the election would lean in his favor? He seems to be an insecure bully with a Napoleonic complex and a brain that can only process “numbers.” Everything is rated by numbers, including women, of course. He also seems to have multiple personalities. I’m not a psychologist but I play one at home as a mom and grandmom. This guy is not very bright but he is shrewd, and a very sneaky double talker, programmed to confuse you with unfinished sentences and intimidating facial expressions that he probably practices in front of a mirror every day. He is dumb like a fox. Just saying.
DON’T FORGET: HE IS PRESIDENT-“ELECT”
Please don’t start with the “Give Trump a chance” crap. First of all, he is still ONLY President-elect. Anything can happen between now and January 20. I am not offering any examples.Use your imagination. I choose not to incriminate myself with un-civil thoughts.
Second, if indeed he makes it into the White House, we have little choice but to “give him a chance” UNTIL HE SCREWS UP. In the interim, activists are organizing to keep us all aware of what can be done with YOUR input. It’s not too late. But if you’re not outraged, then you’re not paying attention. Read and stay informed. I know what he promised and there are many who listened and bought in. They voted for him and they are probably going to be very disappointed. Things are not going to move fast enough. But by the time it hits them, it may be too late.
In my humble opinion, Trump has already started his own game of “thornes” by naming Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. Bannon may not even be able to pass the background check for that post considering his affiliation with American white nationalists. Oh, and he was also charged with choking his wife.
Bannon also once described himself as a “Leninist” who wanted to “destroy the state… bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment” in order to reach tea party populist goals.
GIVING NEW MEANING TO F U!
Normally I just ask you nicely to comment when you subscribe. But this time, I am begging for your commentary. Are you really gonna sit on this? Are you saying ” it is what it is?” Have you been paying attention to the racists, bigots and haters that Trump is appointing to his cabinet? I don’t think people realize we’re are firmly in place for a revolution. I don’t think today’s millennials or anyone who didn’t live through the 50s and 60s has a clue as to what we might expect.
What happened then, is being repeated. Those were the seeds that sowed “this.” But it’s not too late to get involved.
Click here for more info on the Women’s March on DC the day after the inauguration. Men are absolutely invited and encouraged to join in.
Please stop complaining, whining, sighing, shaking your head in despair, and leaving the hardwork to concerned citizens. Otherwise, there is a possibility that you may not be a citizen for very long. I’m not trying to scare you. Trump already did that. I’m trying to smack you into reality. Get informed. Stop reading garbage and get factual information by verifying it in at least three different, reputable and competing sources. Find out as much as you can before 2020. You are actually more resourceful, smarter and more motivated than your leader-elect. Show him your version of “Make America Great Again.” It’s already great. Let’s Make America Even Better. And as a wise man from the South once told me, “If the s%#t don’t stink, don’t stir it.”
Playwright George Bernard Shaw ordered his epitaph to read “I knew if I stuck around long enough, something like this would happen.” Exactly, but the “something” in this case, is the price of cable TV.
The reality is most of America is addicted to television programming. There’s something for everyone out there and the big guns like Comcast and Direct TV, and maybe Time Warner, as disastrous as that deal might be, know they’ve got you. You’ll give up something–anything before you relinquish that remote. But now you’re starting to realize you’re paying a lot more for it than you did ten years ago. Would you like to pay even more? You may not have a choice.
Cable, satellite companies (DISH, DIRECT TV) and Internet providers are taking steps to make up for trickling revenue in the face of streaming competition from Smart TVs, Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Apple TV and Sling Box that will eventually cause big red numbers on the balance sheets.
As more of us start cutting the cable cords, it’s likely our internet services bill or bundle will increase, most likely in some stealth manner. Dare you to try getting an explanation from your Internet provider, which in many cases, is also your cable company.
The cord cutters are on the rise. According to Variety Magazine, the total residential video revenue for American cable operators “is projected to fall from $57.7 billion in 2016 to $55.0 billion annually in 2026” as more cable users turn into cord cutters. It doesn’t sound too bad on paper over a decade (about .5 of a percent a year) but you know corporate lives for a hefty bottom line, not a dwindling one.
No need to feel sorry for them. SNL Kagan Research predicts a 13% rise in broadband subs for these same cable companies so they’ll also take in “$11 billion in additional cash from residential broadband over the same time frame.” On their end, broadband operating costs are far more profitable than TV.
Like Albert Finney’s character in the movie Network, I am mad as Hell! And I’m not going to take this anymore!” And neither should you.
BTW, you can watch Finney’s full rant, a classic monologue that is still relevant today (from 1970) on YouTube at https://youtu.be/WINDtlPXmmE
These days, I rely more on Twitter than TV for news. At least the #Twitter platform gives you various viewpoints and sufficient information without having to watch a flock of alleged experts yelling over each other, speculating about what could or could not happen. They know no more than we do. It’s all guesswork.
Speaking of guesswork, that’s where I am right now with this latest communique from Comcast.–our Internet provider under the name XFINITY.
So let’s break this language down.
“Effective November 1, 2016, your XFINITY Internet service will include one terabyte (that’s 1,024 GB) of data usage per month.”
“With a terabyte of data you can stream between 600 and 700 hours of HD video, play more than 12,000 hours of online games, or download 60,000 high-res photos in a month.”
What does “will include” mean in context? Is it automatically included, whether you want /need it or not? If you don’t use a terabyte, does your bill remain the same? Or is it included, and you have no choice but to use it or lose it? Most important, how much would you expect to pay for all this? This could use some “claireification.”
I tried reaching Comcast four times by phone, twice on-line. Forget phone contact. Their automated voice has limited communication skills and zero listening aptitude.
Wait, there’s more. This portion of the notice reads: “For the past three months, your average data usage was only 183 GB. Based on your usage history, you can still stream, surf, game, download and do whatever you want to do online, worry free.”
But I am not worry-free because the message isn’t clear. “I can….” but at what price? More than I was paying before? How much more? Hard numbers are not explained in this letter. Does that mean everything remains the same for me since my data usage is so low? Am I going to get a full terabyte whether I want or need it or not? If I go to the FAQ section under the link provided, it appears the answer is yes. You just have to check from time to time on your usage, and/or XFINITY will send you a courtesy e-mail.
Here’s my big issue with all of this. The provider changes its terms and the consumer has to do all the work to make sure the provider is not ripping you off. Also, the FCC allows cable providers to charge you a month in advance. Naturally, the service you receive that month has glitches and fall-outs; programs don’t record or they record the wrong program. Where are my $$ adjustments for the programs I’m paying for and can’t get? Just use On Demand, they tell you. Sure, great. Except I can get Episodes 3, 4, and 5 but not the Pilot or Episode 2.
Case in point: we have Direct TV as a “cable”/satellite provider for TV. The bill is outrageous but we’re stuck with the contract until Spring, 2017. As you may know, some time ago Direct TV became part of the AT&T “family.” Their Internet service is U-Verse.
In July, 2016, we were fed up with Xfinity Internet (poor connectivity and slow or not available) , so we made an inquiry with AT&T about U-Verse. They talked us into a less expensive package. We made an appointment. But their installation guy never showed up so we called to cancel. AT&T set up a U-Verse account anyway, and started billing us for both Direct TV and U-verse. So we started getting double-billed for Direct TV (we already had a bill from them) AND we were being billed for U-verse which we never got. Whaaa!
We spent more than six hours on the phone with at least a dozen different representatives (not counting hold times) and no one could give us a decent explanation. One of the reps ended his call, saying “I don’t know what to tell you. If I tried to explain it to you, you wouldn’t understand. It will just all come out in the wash” and hung up.
On the first round of calls, we were assured they would delete the U-verse account and make necessary adjustments. Then two weeks later, we got the same bill—only higher—because we did not pay the U-verse bill from the previous month, primarily because we don’t like paying for service we don’t have or have already paid for.
Two weeks ago, we spent another two hours on the phone with a series of disconnected people who obviously have no info from the previous rep who made the transfer. By now, U-Verse had sent us to a collection agency that was calling every morning at 7:45 (which BTW is illegal; 8:00 is the official start time to begin the dunning)
So, back to the same process all over again. Four transfers and five redundant stories later, we finally got a rep named Liz. (They never use their real names and you’ll never get a last name: security issues) It took two and a half hours but she finally resolved the issue.
Whoever Liz is, she deserves a medal for courtesy, patience, persistence and resourcefulness. For now, at least, she gets props on my Twitter feed.
The problem is there are very few people like Liz in the customer service realm and few consumers have enough time to spend two-plus hours on hold.
It’s all a legitimate racket. The air waves used to be free. You wanted more than three stations; you pay. It’s 2016 and by 2026, your rates will be off the hook. I encourage you not to wait until these issues become too politically embroiled to surmount.
Write (don’t bother with a phone call) to the Federal Communications Commission at 445 12th Street SW Washington, DC 20554. And get mad as Hell. “You have to get mad.”
While researching remedies for this debacle, I found this information from the FCC for low income users of the Internet. It’s a press release under this link:
But on my end, the link is broken. Why am I not surprised.
As always, your comments are appreciated. Thanks to all who have subscribed. I will eventually get around to thanking you personally. Meanwhile, please follow me on Twitter @morricles. If you don’t have a Twitter account, set one up (it’s easy) and stay in touch. I can even walk you through some basics.
This article has been updated. It was originally published under the title "Will The Real Worst President Please Stand Up" on 9/17/2014 at www.claireifyblog.com
Twitter claims to handle about 6,000 tweets per second, roughly translating to 500 million tweets per day. My Twitter topics and interests are varied and my activity is random, so in hindsight, I wonder how and why a troller (or someone) chose me and my timeline to tweet the hashtag #Obama with the brief phrase “The worst president ever.”
“Just baiting,” I chuckled but then I couldn’t resist the urge to respond. Maybe he could give me some examples. I tweeted back with one word: “Because?”
His answer: “He is a weak president. What has he done?”
I have a pretty good idea when an opinion is going to become a useless blowup so initially, I just shook my head and decided to let it go. I have grown weary of the increasing numbers of HGH (Haters Gonna Hate) and I have priorities in life that preclude toxic and fruitless arguments. Speaking up is important but I choose my battles.
But I couldn’t get his comment off my mind. What was his definition of “weak?” Is it because POTUS refuses to play the role of the angry black man? Was the tweeter trying to use the word “weak” as code for something more racially-charged? Whatever his intention, he and his buddies are still out there, overtly labeling Obama as the “worst president ever” and obviously, certain GOP legislators and candidates agree. Instead of presenting a viable platform for running the country, some of the far right continue to lean on the argument that President Obama is weak. “Seriously?
What isweak is the choice of the word. When I think of weak presidents, names such as Nixon, Dubya, and a few DINOs stand out. For claireification purposes, I also equate weak with cowardly, flimsy, degenerate, forceless, and fragile. I cannot, nor do I believe most Americans would define our president using any of these adjectives. He is calm and maintains grace under fire, and let’s remember, only a few insiders know what goes on behind those closed doors. This was the president who attended the White House Correspondents Dinner the night before the raid that ended with the death of Osama Bin Laden. There wasn’t a reporter at that event who knew the game was afoot.
For 24+ hours I mulled over the benefits and fallout of further response to this abrupt and designed-to-incite tweet, finally deciding to challenge the poster based on an educated guess that he may not know the history of US presidents beyond, say, JFK or LBJ. Also, a glance at his previous tweets and accompanying grammar were big clues. How could he possibly compare forty-four presidents and determine who was the worst? He had difficulty spelling fifth grade words. Continue reading HOW TO DETERMINE THE CHARACTER OF A PRESIDENT→
It was 1974 in Philadelphia. I was the noon anchor and ABC affiliate’s unofficial entertainment reporter. A pleasant diversion from the usual assignments like mob stings, SEPTA strikes, fires and murders.
I sat at a table at Just Jazz nightclub with two girlfriends, flanked by the legendary Teddy Pendergrass and some of the club regulars. Just Jazz had booked giants like Dizzy Gilespie, Coltrane, and Billy Ekstine. But the rules could be bent to accommodate popular Philly talent of most genre: The Three Degrees; Melba Moore, Cleavon Little; Patti LaBelle; The Spinners; and the OJ’s. It was cool, hot, and groovy.
Gil Scott-Heron was about to make his Philly debut for the album The Revolution Will Not Be Televised .The song had been released in 1970. It wasn’t new but its message was still salient.
It was not a glorious time for Black and Brown people. Just ten years earlier, (1964) Philadelphia had been the scene of three days of hardcore rioting, looting and burning after an incident in the inner-city of North Philly. The assassinations of John F Kennedy in 1963, Martin Luther King in 1968 and Robert Kennedy in that same year also weighed heavily on the minds of hopeful people of color and concerned civil rights leaders. Hope was fading.
Earlier that day, Gil rehearsed at Just Jazz. He didn’t need much time. A walk around a nine by 12 foot stage, a look around the back, a sound check and a consult with the setup crew took fifteen minutes. He was a pro. HE was cool, relaxed, appropriately friendly. and kept most of his answers succinct. When he talked about music, his stories flowed as effortlessly as one would expect from a great poet. He was a genuine griot whose words emerged like a custom woven tapestry with meaningful messages in every thread. But he also knew when to stop and reflect. Sometimes he became subtly Socratic so my questions were often countered with a “What do you think?” or “I’m not sure I would say that. How about you?”
Scott-Heron had been on the scene for a long time but his name began to take root with the recording of Small Talk at 125th and Lenox. He was accompanied by Eddie Knowles and Charlie Saunders on conga and David Barns on percussion and vocals. On that album, he dealt with the shallow tone of television (I think he saw it as a gift and a curse) and the duplicity of some would-be Black revolutionaries, as well as the struggles of inner-city residents to which white middle-class folks turned a blind eye.
In the liner notes, Scott-Heron acknowledged Richie Havens, John Coltrane, Otis Redding, Jose Feliciano, Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, Malcom X, Huey Newton, Nina Simone and the pianist who would become his long-time collaborator, Brian Jackson.
How ironic that almost four decades later, the situation does not seem to have changed. Scott-Heron’s song compares racial tensions in the US with those in apartheid-era South Africa, implying that the US was not too far ahead in race relations. Today, it seems worse, as if the clock has been turned backward. “Making America Great Again” sounds more like code for Making America White Again.
My cameraman got some outstanding footage, including superb outtakes. The content was provocative to say the least. Gil was outspoken about his drug use, his views on White America, suppression, lost leaders, and sometimes a glimmer of hope, however dim. I should have known then my General Manager was going to object to some of the content but that’s what editing is for. Maybe Scott-Heron was just too deep and intellectual for the news “officials” I had to answer to. He was definitely a complex man whose music was thoughtful satire, a mix of blues and poetry and what some would later refer to as the beginning of hip hop. But Gil considered himself different from all these descriptions and coined his own moniker of “bluesologist.”
This would be a first for the evening news–a young, intelligent and savvy Black man who sported an unconventionally ethnic “look” (his fro was wider and higher than Angela Davis’) and spoke out about America’s race problem with songs like “Whitey On The Moon.” The race riots of 1964 received biased publicity, usually below the fold of the newspaper. On television, the footage was looped–the same Black people breaking storefront windows with crowbars and carrying “liberated” items from White-owned stores in shopping carts or on their backs. It was wrong but it was a long time coming.
In 1970s Philadelphia, despite its overtly polite and liberal appearance and aura, racial issues were not dinner table topics. It wasn’t, shall we say, polite conversation. I was taught that everyone was a human being. The color of a person’s skin was not significant. Whether my parents did me a service or disservice in that regard is a subject for another blog.
I sat down with Gil to get his perspective on those trying times and how he expressed it on his album, Pieces of A Man.
You knew right away he was angry but it was a cool defiance, laced with sardonic smiles and shakes of his head as if to say “Don’t ask me to understand it for you. I just write and sing what it is to me.” His face was filled with angelic calm but his eyes spoke of irreversible resentment and rage. Malcom X had been assassinated in 1965 and Gil was still angry about that.
“What about things that make you happy?” I asked.
He frowned briefly but then a glimmer of a smile gave way to “Living in Chelsea.” He said his home was close to those of Richie Havens and Julius Lester and other talented artists. It was inspiring to him.
It was probably the most informative and enlightening interview I had done for the station. But my audience would never see it. Somehow, the reel was “misplaced.” Back in the day, it was film and hand-splicing. Editing technology like AVID was just coming on the scene. Reporters reported, sound men held the boom mic, and editors edited. Today, most local news reporters have to do it all, carrying their own cameras and doing their own editing.
I checked on the status of the piece in the editing room around 3:00.
“Can’t find it” Tommy (we’ll call him that) said without making eye contact. I knew he was hedging.
“What does that mean?” I asked. Tommy shrugged. “The cuts you wanted. Not here.”
“So you spliced it and lost it?”
Tommy looked at me apologetically. “I never had a chance to get to it” he winced. It’s just gone.” I realized he was following orders. Gil was just too much for Philadelphia conservatives to digest. My GM obviously thought the piece would not go over well with a predominantly White audience. It was like convincing my White friends some years later that they really should watch Roots and hearing them protest that it wasn’t something they wanted to re-live. As if they had lived it at all.
When I saw Gil that night at Just Jazz (after a standing ovation for his hour and a half set) I apologized that the piece had not aired. He did not seem surprised or upset. He just chuckled and shook his head. “The music never dies,” he said.
I was more upset about the whole thing than he was. “This is a racist thing, you know that, right? They didn’t want that shit on the air. It was just too… Black.”
He said quietly, “Sister, remember this. It’s not about color, it’s about class.” I’ll never forget those words because they still ring true today.
Miraculously, the missing reel appeared on my desk the following day but, the window of opportunity had slipped away. A quick run-through revealed that most of the film had been damaged.
Scott Heron’s work is timeless. Just read the lyrics for The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and make note of its relevance today. Better still, hear Gil at https://youtu.be/qGaoXAwl9kw.
The people and products you’ll see on that YouTube video may not be familiar but the message is the same. “The world is too much with us,” said William Wordsworth. “Late and soon; getting and spending, we lay waste our powers. Little we see in nature that is ours.”
But as Gil would say “What does it mean to you?” That’s what’s important.. Gil being the prophet that he was, may have seen beyond today. Maybe he meant there will be no TV when the real revolution arrives. Maybe there will be no devices at all. At least, none that we can see.
Gil Scott-Heron – April 1, 1949 -May 27, 2011
You will not be able to stay home, brother. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out. You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip out for beer during commercials. Because the revolution will not be televised. The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox in 4 parts without commercial interruptions. The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary. The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia. The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal. The revolution will not get rid of the nubs. The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.
There will be no pictures of you and Willie May pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run, or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance. NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32 or report from 29 districts. The revolution will not be televised.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers in the instant replay. There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process. There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving for just the proper occasion.
Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day. The revolution will not be televised.
There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news and no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose. The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb, Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth. The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people. You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl. The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath. The revolution will not put you in the driver’s seat. The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be not re-run brothers; The revolution will be live.
Donny Trump’s most recent incendiary comments at a Trump fest in North Carolina have drawn some ire from esteemed columnist, thinker, reporter, writer and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Thomas L Friedman. The New York Times ® columnist and best selling author is more than unhappy with Trump’s vague and “menacing” implications. From what I read and hear, Friedman is not alone.
It appears that the Donald, with blood coming out of his ears, coming from everywhere–I don’t know–gave a nod to anyone with a gun and an attitude to get creative and “stop” Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Friedman was more than kind with his description but I’m telling you what I heard and saw, including tone and body language.
“Hillary wants to… essentially abolish, the Second Amendment,” Trump said. “By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
The ignorance that seeps from those words, is just as unsettling to me than the thinly veiled directive that Trump signals. Does he have any idea of the many steps involved in abolishing an amendment. And yes, POTUS selects Supreme Court judge nominees but they must be confirmed by the Senate. The powers of the president are more limited than most Americans know. Am I wrong? I don’t know. You tell me.
Why bother to make a strong statement that invites the confused and unstable to consider knocking off a presidential candidate, followed by “…maybe there is [a way]” but “…I don’t know.” Are those hollow, over-exposed phrases of doubt intended to cover his buttocks, as if to say “It’s just something I am noodling on in my big brain that one of you zombies with a gun might consider carrying out to protect [my] rights.”
MY UPDATE: This controversial comment about the Second Amendment was followed by an equally scathing remark that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were the FOUNDERS of ISIS. Need I suggest that this guy is desperately looking for a way out of his candidacy?
“Oh for God’s sake,” one of my GOP acquaintances squealed at me, “that is not what he meant at all.”
I asked with a forced calm, “What do you think he meant?”
“He’s just saying maybe the people who want to protect the Second Amendment can figure out a way to do that. To stop her from taking away our guns. You can read into it whatever you want.”
I wasn’t aware that each American citizen had a bounden duty to sharpen his or her political interpreting skills to understand the real meaning of poly-speak. Is there an on-line class for that and how many credits do we get toward a degree in PolySigh?
This is why I always stress the importance of clear communication.We live in a world where “bad” means “hip” and “sick” means “absolutely fabulous” and “dope” means “incredible.” You have to claireify almost everything. That sometimes means using up seven of your 140 Twitter characters with the word “SARCASM” just to ensure you are not attacked when someone reads your post the wrong way. All it takes is a misplaced comma or a misspelled word. What could go wrong.
Of course, Trump didn’t say “Kill Hill” in plain English. He doesn’t speak the language clearly anyway, because that yuuuuge brain of his is impaired. There are so many big words crowding the frontal lobe of his cerebrum, he becomes easily confused.
But a view to the kill was definitely more than implied in Trump’s statements. It was not-so-subtle code for “Maybe you people who are here today, you know, somebody with a gun can go to her next event and get close enough to just pop her. Teach her a lesson.”
No Doubting this Thomas
“People are playing with fire here, and there is no bigger flamethrower than Donald Trump,” Friedman writes in his August 9, 2016 NYT column Trump’s Wink Wink to ‘Second Amendment’ People .
Friedman starts his piece with the caveat that this newest rant smarts of right wing extremists who labeled Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin as a traitor, and triggered the PM’s assassination. Rabin had negotiated the Israel-PLO accords with PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) leader, Yasser Arafat in 1993, in an effort to sanction Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories. In October 1994, Rabin also signed a peace treaty with King Hussein bin Talal of Jordan. In 1995, after speaking at a peace rally in Tel Aviv, Rabin was gunned down by an Israeli student, Yigal Amir.
“Of course, all is fair in politics, right? And they had God on their side, right? They weren’t actually telling anyone to assassinate Rabin. That would be horrible,” Friedman writes with satire in every keystroke.
“There are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats,” Friedman continues. “They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don’t you? We kill them.”
Trump and his minions were quick to rush in with a defense saying Trump was simply encouraging people to vote for him to stop Clinton from appointing liberal Supreme Court judges who would undoubtedly hand down a ruling forcing everyone to give up their guns.
“This is a political movement,” Trump told Sean Hannity of FOX news. “This is a strong political movement, the Second Amendment, and there can be no other interpretation. Even reporters have told me. I mean, give me a break.”
“What he said was ambiguous — slightly menacing, but with just enough plausible deniability that, of course, he was not suggesting an assassination,” Friedman writes.
Trump is aware of the power of his words. He seems to have a hypnotic effect on the poorly educated, which may be the reason he often states his love for that group. These are what I call the mushroom people. You keep them in the dark and feed them manure.
That old meme “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never hurt me” a phrase that every good child was taught decades ago to ward off bullies, couldn’t be further from the truth. Hateful words incite the loners, the already mentally disturbed, and as Friedman describes, those who are “deeply immersed in fringe jihadist social networks that heat them up.” These folks most likely grew up unhinged because of words that were hurled at them as children. Not only do words hurt, they can kill–if not the person, her spirit, her drive, her soul.
“They hear the signal in the noise,” Friedman says. “They hear the inspiration and the permission to do God’s work. They are not cooled by unfinished sentences.”
Mr. Friedman amplifies his article with an unfaltering tone of anguish. “Forget politics; he (Trump) is a disgusting human being,” writes Friedman. His children should be ashamed of him. I only pray that he is not simply defeated, but that he loses all 50 states so that the message goes out across the land — unambiguously, loud and clear: The likes of you should never come this way again.”
I agree, sir. I agree and so do millions of Americans. Unfortunately, many remain a part of the silent majority. To them, I say, it’s time to grow some balls. Unless you’re afraid a Trumpster has you in his crosshairs. If that’s the case, do what you must do (or not) but please do not stay home on election day. Not to decide, is to decide.