Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Is George Bush Crazy?

War Reparations?!

It might be a good thing for the USA if he is!

If doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results is one definition of insanity, does George Bush qualify as insane?

Is that what Bush is doing in the “Iraq Surge.” Throwing good money after bad. Throwing fresh troops after dead and wounded. What can he possibly hope to accomplish?

Bush is doing this in contrast to his usual behavior of doing the same thing over and over and hoping for the SAME results. Unfortunately, for us, his usual behavior is that of a greasy used car salesman. It’s not just the old stale line about WMD that got us into the war. Go back. Listen to his state of the union speeches. They are classic used car salesman pitches. Promises, promises and all about things that we want to hear and which he has absolutely no plans to implement. Education, health care, prison issues, he has absolutely no interest in these things. He’s just making a slick sales pitch for a product he knows we will not examine carefully before we take it home.

Look further back. A couple of years ago he announced we were going to Mars. The planet Mars. When, after that first month, have you heard more about a mission to Mars. At the time he was laughed at because it was so extremely out of character for him. But it was only noticeable because it was so far out for him. It was still just the same old “bait and don’t even bother to switch” that ‘W’ always gives us. Halliburton doesn’t launch or design spacecraft.

He ruined the Texas school system, he ruined the Texas health care system, and he ruined the Texas prison system. Now he’s doing more of the same at the national level. That’s George doing what he always does and praying for the same results. The results that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Rice, Inc (B,C,R&R Inc.) are being paid to produce by the Halliburton good old boys.

But the war may be something else. And there’s a good reason we better hope that there’s a difference.

So far there’s been no talk of impeaching Bush. That’s quite surprising given the national disgust with the war coupled with B,C,R&R Inc.’s constant thumbing of their noses at congress and at the American People. On the other hand, as often happens when the boy cries wolf, when the Republican’s used the impeachment of Clinton over nothing as payback for Nixon, the whole country got a sour taste in its mouth for the national pastime of Beltway Bickering. This kind of thing can happen at the most unfortunate time. What better example of a president who needs to be impeached than Bush? The man has no regard for anyone, save perhaps those lining his pockets, and he’s egregiously flaunting his authority with that, “I’m the decider.” nonsense. Certainly he gets to give the order to send in the troops, but he does not get to mire the country in an offensive, immoral and unwanted war when everyone, save those profiting by the war, are against the war.

Another reason why there’s been no talk of impeachment, I think, is that an impeachment of Dubya would be a blueprint to charge Bush and the joint chiefs with war crimes and then to come after the rest of us for war reparations.

Think of it. The war is a fraud. Is there any other way to characterize it? If there’s any doubt of that, look at Colin Powell. When was the last time we heard from him. He’s hiding out hoping the country will forget about his pivotal role in convincing us that Saddam had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Powell probably still hopes he can run for president when he turns 98 or 102 years old. I can remember clearly as he spoke and displayed the pictures of the trucks outside the plant he assured us was a chemical weapons plant, that he better know more than he was telling. He was asking us to believe that just because a bunch of trucks were delivering and picking up freight at a warehouse, that we should go to war for longer than WWII, kill over 3,000 and maim over 60,000 of our own people. I remember clearly thinking that what he was claiming was proof meant nothing, unless he knew more than he was telling.

As it turns out, he knew even less than he was telling. It was all a sham. I might be excused for not having made an immediate trip to Washington to stand outside the White House and shout, “Fraud!” Even congress might be forgiven for being gun-shy when B,C,R&R Inc. fabricated the reasons for war because of the mood of the country which would not tolerate dissent. A mood, the depth of which was subsequently demonstrated by the Patriot Act, warrant less phone tapping and warrant less opening of US Mail. But can the people who knowingly fabricated the totally baseless stories of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons be forgiven?

Not guilty by reason of temporary insanity? We better hope so. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already started calling names. And soon the rest of the world isn’t going to quibble over, “Can you call Bush a liar unless you also call Clinton a liar?” the way the US media does.

Unless the Netherlands could successfully invade Washington DC and arrest the Joint Chiefs and B,C,R&R Inc., I don’t see how it could possibly go beyond bluster. But if the world starts calling for the arrest and prosecution of the US military for war crimes, they will be coming after you and me for war reparations. They won’t get it out of you or me, but if you plan on leaving any money to your children or grandchildren, you might want to find a way to hide some of it.

And if you think congress passing gas…..er….non binding resolutions might hurt the delicate morale of our troops, just wait until some people in funny uniforms show up and start trying to arrest people for war crimes. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Monday, February 19, 2007

If You Pay For Credit Repair, You Haven’t Learned Anything Yet!

The Shearing of the Sheep

Don’t get ripped off again for this simple process.

I can’t say I’ve really looked into it, but if someone wants to charge you money to repair your credit, here’s what you do. After you tell them to take a flying leap, that is.

First, find a credit union that will take you as a member. You have to be a member of their charter population, but you can usually find one that has the geographic area you live in, or something like that, as a population. There is a Credit Union that will only take people who work for the Chicago downtown post office. That’s their charter population. Some are less specific. Mine, in addition to numerous specific companies in the area, will also take anyone who lives within 5 miles of their main office. That’s what you’re looking for if you don’t have a Credit Union at your job, church or social club.

Next, take a $500 secured loan from a credit union and deposit the $500 in a savings account with the credit union as the security. If they keep the money and freeze the account, you should be able to get the loan even if your credit is really in the toilet. Inquire about their credit reporting practices. This loan will do you no good if they don’t report it to a credit agency like TransUnion or Experian. If you have to, find out if they will report as a special case. Often institutions will do that upon request. Sometimes, institutions only report loans with a period OVER one year. While credit cards often report transactions monthly, credit cards are what got you into trouble in the first place. And there are cheaper ways to do the same thing you are trying to do with a credit card.

Finally, without ever touching the money in the account (to spend it, that is,), pay back the loan. If you have to use some of the money in the savings account to pay off the loan, that’s not best but that’s OK. Even of the account is frozen, they should let you make payments on the loan as long as the savings balance is more than the total of the loan plus the total interest on the loan. Best if you don’t ask to do that until at least ½ the loan is paid. And not more than one or two payments over the course of the loan. Otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

Two or three things happen here. For the $15 you wasted in interest on the loan, you have $500 in the bank. Also, there is a report of all the timely payments you made on the loan at the credit bureau for your new creditors to see. And your credit score will go up.

You can also do this with a secured credit card. But be careful. Make sure you know ALL the hidden charges of that credit card. You will probably have to pay interest charges far in excess of the Credit Union account so unless you really need the credit card to buy things, don’t fool around with it. Stick to secured Credit Union loans for the first few thousand dollars. If you can’t build up a few thousand dollars in the bank, you’ve got no business buying things with a credit card. If you can’t build up a few thousand dollars in the bank, how are you ever going to buy a car? The difference in buying a car, no money down with bad credit vs. buying a car with just $2500 down can be double the price. Do you really want to pay $25,000 for a $12,000 car? Do you really want to, at the end of 6 years, have a worthless car on which you still owe $8000? Sure you can roll that over into the next car. I knew a co-worker who did that a few times. He wound up with a dead Nissan Pathfinder with 240,000 miles on which he still owed $14,000!!!

In the same way that big, beautiful, brightly lit, flashy casinos are not built by letting the players win more than they lose, big, beautiful, brightly lit, flashy car dealerships are not built by selling cars at rock bottom prices. Nor by financing cars at rock bottom prices. Nor by selling auto insurance at rock bottom prices. Nor by selling rust proofing or finish protection at rock bottom prices. Nor by selling aftermarket radios, DVD players, leather seats, or heated seats at rock bottom prices. You have to shop and dicker over every one of those items. Or if you don’t you can forget about taking a vacation or having Christmas this year. Or any other year.

You can also forget about Christmas and the vacation if you let someone talk you into Credit Repair. Just like Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, there ain’t no such thing as Credit Repair. - © 2007The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just What is the Value of Insuring Shipments?

The Shearing of the Sheep

A look at life's realities.

A couple of days ago I mailed 4 packages. 3 were of little consequence. I didn't even bother to insure them at all. The 4th package was insured for $1650 total value. It cost $60.40 to send that one 27 pound package. The insurance was $19.10, the postage was $40.80. In all that follows, please remember, that there's a lot of "He said. She said." and "Who shot John?" Obviously I wasn't there when the package was received. I wasn't there when it was taken to the Post Office for inspection. I wasn't there for the conversation between the postal official and the recipient of the package. The recipient relayed these conversations to me.

You would think that if you insured something and sent it off, if it got damaged in transit, you'd file a claim, there'd be an investigation, and you'd get your money. That's the theory behind paying the insurance. That's not the way it always works. In fact, it seldom works that way. Probably the only time it works that way is if the goods completely disappear in transit.

My package contained $1650.00 worth of shotguns I sold on an internet auction site. That was the $1567 auction price of the guns plus the freight. Naturally the first package with only $40 worth of shot shell reloading equipment arrived intact. As did the package with the empty original gun boxes. Also the third package, the empty carry case for the Winchester in its original box, arrived safely. But the box that held the actual Ruger Red Label and the Winchester 101 Diamond Grade didn't make it intact. The over/under shotguns were shipped broken down (barrels separate from stocks) and nestled in a velvet lined, padded, locked, hard sided airline case. This is an airline case which made at least 3 cross country round trips without incident. The case with the guns was even packed in the box that the case came in. Yet upon arrival the wood fore ends of both guns were cracked. There must have been an exceedingly severe blow to just the right spot to have damaged such well packed items with so little damage to the outside of the box. It makes one think.

The Post Office puts a bright blue "Insured" label on insured packages. If an unhappy employee wishes to get back at his employer as that package pass through his hands, might he not give it a good slam? The other 3 packages (not nearly as well protected) arrived unscathed. Only the package clearly marked "Insured" was damaged. The airlines used to make you attach a bright red "firearms" tag to your case when you checked a gun as baggage. It was required that the gun be unloaded when checked. An unloaded firearm is about as non-hazardous an item as you can think of. But when you attach a red tag to the box, you invite theft. A stolen gun will probably ultimately wind up in the hands of a criminal which makes a piece of luggage with a red tag on it becomes a very dangerous item indeed. A good example of how burocracy can turn something harmless into something deadly. Just a thought.

When the buyer called to say the guns arrived damaged, my first fleeting thought was, "My God, I wonder if they think I shipped damaged merchandise?" With relief, my next thought, and what I said to the buyer was, "No problem, we're fully insured." How naive on my part. His answer, "Sure, we'll just file a claim." showed he was just as green. The damage, while it could be repaired by $2 worth of glue and a couple hours of time, would cost over $1000 for factory replacement wood. The repair would have to be custom work for the 101 as Winchester Olin is out of business.

The long and the short is, if the package had never arrived, the claim would have been paid in full. Unfortunately, when there's a partial loss
due to damage, the carriers know all too well that the claim is open to all kinds of estimation, negotiation and downright fraud. Naturally, the carrier's response it a slow drawn out process which quickly weeds out all but the largest, most legitimate, and most easily proved claims.

The rest of the claims, like ours, will be put to death by euthanasia to avoid a long, slow, lingering death. If we'd have filed a claim, we'd have had to give the damaged fore ends to the Post Office for the local office to send to a national claims center. The clerk told the buyer that most likely the claim would be denied after about a 6 month investigation because while there was some damage to the box, it did not seem to be enough to damage the merchandise inside. Nothing encourages you to file a report like the person taking the report telling you that you are wasting your time.

A six month investigation would mean that the buyer would have his money tied up for 6 months in 2 guns he could not sell with parts sitting at the Post Office national claims center. Then in 6 months the Post Office would deny the claim and send the broken parts back and the buyer would be in the same position he is now. What we did was this: The buyer asked his customers if they wanted to take the damaged but repairable guns for $100 (ea) off the previously agreed price. The buyer and I split the $200, ($85 Buyer, $115 Seller) and the deals were closed that day. Everyone paid a little more for a little less than they wanted, but was satisfied with a reasonable deal in the end. Except the Postal Service. They pocketed the $19.10 insurance fee.

The buyer could have blown up at me, accused me of shipping damaged merchandise and filed the insurance claim or paid to ship the guns back to me for a refund. Either way, he loses. I could have blown up and accused the buyers of trying to cheat me, faking the damage, and recounting a non existent conversation with the postal clerk. They would then have carefully packed my guns in nothing but a couple of garbage bags and mailed them back to me. I lose.

The way both the buyer and seller dealt with this unfortunate damage was wisest and the best for both of them. Take a small, bad tasting lump, while still making money on the deal. Let it go, and concentrate on the next deal. Hopefully a smoother one.

The real questions are: First, do I deal with this buyer again? From all he says, he's eager to deal with me again. Which actually has me somewhat concerned. Second, do I ship insured goods with the USPS again. It's the insurance label on the package which has me concerned, not the carrier. I'm sure (and I mean I'm really sure) that USPS, UPS, Fedex, DHL and any other carrier are about the same in this area.

I think the solution is this: I'll deal with the buyer again, but keep him on a short leash. I still have a number of guns for sale. I'll see if he'll buy one of the less expensive ones. Then I'll still ship it USPS, but I'll take it to the Post Office packed but unsealed. I'll show it undamaged to the Postmaster at my station. If it gets damaged on the way down again, I won't care about the insurance loss. I'll let the Postal Inspectors follow the next (empty but heavily insured) package to find out who's putting a burr under my blanket. - © 2007The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Friday, February 09, 2007

DomainNames of the Greek and Roman gods!!

Thalia Made Me Do It.

Things I've Found on the Way to Look Up Other Things

I'm not particularly a trivia geek, but now, with broadband, I like to look anything that piques my curiosity. Thus I am always running across interesting things on the way to looking up other things. It's like Hyper-Thoughts or Hyper-Musing. Often by the time I get to the end of the moment's curiosity, I can't even remember what I was first looking for or why I came to the final resting place. Usually this info is readily available on the net, but not all tied together in this knot. Here's the first instalment:

I must have been checking the availability of a DomainName and for some reason I wondered if the gods had their own DomainNames and sites. You can easily find a listing of the gods and you can WHOIS whatever you want. But this particular table just isn't out there. Unfortunately, the thing that's most interesting about the DomainNames of the gods is first, how paltry and common are the websites that own these famous names and second, how few of them are actual websites.

And I mean boring to the max. Try plugging in www. + a god's name. + com, net and org. About 59% are software or hardware related companies. Naturally the net geeks were first to realize the value of the names of the gods. Unfortunately, it looks like they are the last to realize that to reach any portion of the real potential of these names, the name has to be coupled with a product, company, image or concept that energizes the name. Another 39% are just placeholders. Either unavailable sites, junk sites with an offer to sell the DomainName or some other come on.

Only about 2% seem to have any pizazz to them:

  • hera.org looks like a secret site. Either it's a placeholder and ad for NetBox web services or it's a super secret site and you have to know the way in.
  • juno.com is a well known ISP
  • If you're male and still alive, or female and looking for a bathing suit, I can recommend venus.com. For the gentlemen I further recommend the "Other Cover-ups" page. (I had to go back to the page 5 times just to get the spelling of "Cover-ups" correct.) Not the page with the most skin, but definitely the most beautiful swimwear and women. Actually I'm kind of amazed this site isn't a household word site like amazon.com. Unless I'm in the dark here.
  • Not to denigrate anyone's contribution but, after venus.com, venus.org and net are big disappointments. Aphrodite.com, net and org even more so.
  • Thank God for the Mars candy company which got it's start in my home town, Chicago, unless I'm mistaken. They have a site and a company which at least reasonably approaches the size of the god's name. Looks like they're a little more than Mars Bars now.
  • ARES.org is the Amateur Radio Disaster Services site. MMmmmmm....must have been amateur radio emergency services (ares) at one time. At least this site seems to have the gravitas one might hope for.
  • ARES.net really IS a secret site that just asks for a password. Très frais.
  • dionysus.org = just plain strange. Too much or too little bacchanalia there me thinks.
  • dionysus.net is another site that begins and ends at index.html. It does show you a beautiful detail of Bacchus from some painting.
  • bacchus.net & .org is a portal (yawn) to a french site about Duval, Pannier and Ruinart (bigger yawn) champagne. They might be very fine sparkling wines, but believe me, Dionysus was not about the gentrified consumption of refined champagne. At least not after the 3rd or 4th day.
And that's it for now. I've gone through both Roman and Greek versions of Zeus, Hera, Venus, Ares, Bacchus .com, .net and . org, 30 sites, and only mars.com, ares.org, and venus.com were interesting. Venus.com will be worth another look for the suits (women) and accessories (men) and dionysus.org to see just how really weird it is, but so far that's it. If anyone finds anything of further interest, please leave a comment. Thanks! - © 2007The Chewed End All rights reserved.
Seamus O'Bròg is an artist and freelance writer who tries to turn life's irritations into life's lessons.

His money back guaranteed newsletter "The Pitfalls of Unlocked Cell Phones and SIM Card Cloning" can be purchased by clicking here.