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The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

Monthly Archives: July 2016

How did we get here?

Yesterday there was an opinion piece by Jean Pisani-Ferry that asked “why are voters ignoring experts?” in relation to the recent Brexit vote to leave the EU.  This sparked debate online about how dumb voters are and how dangerous democracy has become.

Why are voters uninformed?  Why do they not trust experts?  Why do voters so often vote against their own interests?  How did we get here?

I think it’s actually pretty simple.  It’s because for the last  30 years we have had leaders who have continuously lied to us, eschewed science and are in politics mainly to enrich themselves and wield power over others.  They have supported policies which are absurd.  The war on drugs, for example.  We are at a place, in 2016, where it has been clear for a long time that locking up more and more people is causing great damage to our society.  We have 4.4% of the world’s population but 22% of the world’s prison population.  That is literally insane.  Oh, and who supports the war on drugs? The Police Officer and Prison Guard unions, of course.

We have regular mass shootings, but no action.  Congress has become a non-working venture.  They do nothing other than bloviate nonsense.  Money has taken over politics, which allows rich individuals to title the system greatly in their favor.  While money buy influence has been around for a while, the Supreme Court handed corporations a gift with Citizens United.

And the #1 accomplice in this charade has been the main stream media (MSM).  They have become pure profit driven infotainment that gives a voice to both sides of an issue, for fairness, even when one side of the issue is batshit insane.  In fact, part of the MSM is a source of the insanity.  Rush Limbaugh.  Fox News.  They spread lies which become accepted truths to many.  Fox News and their ilk (some in the US Congress) have been on a 20+ year campaign to brand the Clinton’s as murderers and criminals.  It boggles the mind to try and understand why all this energy is being put into something so banal and useless.  (Useless to us, the citizenry of the US.  Not useless to the conservatives who seek power.)

Donald Trump and Brexit are merely the product of 3 decades of political shenanigans.

The global corporate business climate is no better.  Corporations have lobbied their respective governments to make globalism the default state of all our economies.  At home, the middle class is been shrinking while corporate profits are at an all-time high. The number of people unemployed might be down, but if you count the people not even trying to find a job, it’s much higher. Abroad, while the exploitation of the 3rd world has raised many out of poverty, it is still exploitation.  Don’t think that once a population has been elevated from abject poverty into a relatively better way of life their corporate overlords won’t pick up and move to the next 3rd world country, once wages rise too much.

Global business, led by US corporations, praise profit over everything.  The side effect of their capital engines has killed uncounted humans and has decimated the world’s environment.  Our oceans are being used as a toilet/garbage dump and overfishing is projected to drive many species to extinction in this century.  Corporate use of tax havens to avoid paying taxes is the norm.  We have multi-billion dollar corporations that pay no taxes and get government handouts.  This has led to income inequality of epic proportions.

So given all of this, is there any doubt why populism is growing?  Why the masses are enthralled by Donald Trump?  Why the UK voted to leave the EU?

There is constant hand wringing over terrorism.

If after 9/11/2011 we had sent Seal Team 6 after OBL, and nothing more, Iraq would not have given rise to ISIL.  Afghanistan would be a cesspool, but it wouldn’t be one that we created and whose sole focus is us and our foreign policy.  Iraq would still be governed by the iron fist of Saddam Hussein, and many people would have lost their lives and been tortured by that regime, but additional millions wouldn’t have lost their lives due to the war we started, and ISIL would not exist.

Our support of Saudi Arabia and the extreme form of Islam there, Wahhabism, along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have created more terrorists than anything else we have ever done.  Of course, we supported Saudi Arabia because of their oil.  We even had two Presidents with the same last name who personally benefited from this relationship.  That isn’t to say that American didn’t benefit from low oil prices, but it certainly meant that we didn’t look for alternatives.  The response to the crisis of oil depletion was delayed for decades, thus putting us behind where we could be in using alternative energy sources.

Everything above sends one loud and clear signal to the masses in the US and UK: you can’t trust anything we say or do and we clearly don’t give a shit about you; we’re here to get ours, so you better get yours, in any way you can.

In the choice between Leave and Remain, many (most?) Leave voters were not actually voting on the Leave/Remain issue, they were sending a signal to the ruling elite: we don’t trust you, we’re sick of this shit, and fuck you.

In November in the US, it could go the same way with Donald Trump.  People are looking at Clinton as the same old shit they’ve been eating for decades.  They literally do not care that Trump is a terrible businessman who cannot tell the truth about anything, they only know that voting for Clinton is more of the same.   They wanted Bernie, but they’ll settle for Trump.

If any of this is confusing or new to you, you have not been paying attention.  And that’s just want they want you to do. Watch your reality TV shows and go to your superhero movies, but don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

 

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Uber may be the best taxi replacement, but…

They have absolutely no clue about customer service or how to take payments for their service.

I decided to use them to get to and from the airport for a recent vacation. I got an estimate of what it would cost ($100), and got a virtual credit card from Citi for the rides and signed up on the website.

The rides were a convenient and quick way to get to and from the airport, but I didn’t predict the cost well. The ride home went put me over the $100 limit I had set on the virtual CC. They emailed me to fix this, so I immediately went to the website (following the link in their own email).

I couldn’t add a new CC on their website. I kept getting a generic “an error has occurred.”  I contacted support, and after exchanging email with four different people that didn’t read my original email or the previous emails their own support people sent me, I finally got someone that admitted the problem was their end and they were “looking into it.”

I waited 3 days and tried again. Emailed them. Got a response from someone that started the process all over again, ignoring all the history in the support ticket, with them telling me I must have used a prepaid card, or something, and to.. blah blah blah.

So, today, I had the idea, I’ll add a new payment method via the app. I did that. There appears to be no way to pay my outstanding balance via the app, so I went to their website, where it still tells me I have an outstanding balance, but the new payment methods are nowhere to be seen. So, I can’t pay the balance and I can’t use the service because I have an outstanding balance.

So, I added another CC in the app, to see if it was a one-time glitch. Nope, same deal.

Then, I get an alert from my CC company that two charges were just made on the two cards I added above, one charge for $0.88 and the other for $1.50. Note, this is not a temporary charge. I don’t get emails for those. This is an actual charge.

It is pretty incredible that a company with a $62.5B valuation (the value at their last funding), can’t even do something as simple as adding a credit card to my account!  And their customer support style (no continuity between emails to them) means you have to start from scratch with each person.

At this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to use the service again.

Racism in America

Since 2008, when Obama became the President of the United States of America, I’ve heard it often cited (TV, online, in person) that “racism is over.”  While some portions of white America wants racism to be over, it’s just not.  Things like affirmative action, they say, should be abolished, because there’s no longer a need.

So, I decided to catalog how racism is not over.  This page will be updated from time to time.

If you have examples for me to add to this list, please make a comment and I’ll consider adding it.