I have a friend who is a “conspiracy theorist.” No, he’s not a nut; he just likes pulling my chain with outré theories. He has proposed everything from ancient astronauts to the existence of a creator god who is also a personal savior.
His latest, however, trumps (pun intended) everything. He’s decided that (1) Trump (the one in the White House) is an alien; (2) Harvey and Irma are some god’s punishment or test of the human race; and (3) these are signs of the “end times.”
Oh, and (4) all these things play together nicely, somehow.
I cannot comment on (1) (that Trump is an alien) except to say that he’s definitely not my idea of a president. Remember when “gravitas” was considered important? What ever became of that? No, Trump lacks gravitas. In fact, sometimes it seems that he’s taken gravitas into negative territory.
Harvey and Irma. There’s a lot of crap on the internet. You knew that. There are no gatekeepers on the internet, and we are responsible for understanding and assessing all that we read.
I won’t call it fake news, even though some of it is what that is. $3500 fares on a major airline? In your dreams. The person who posted that is one of the reasons the rest of us Primates are called stupid. Post an anecdote and get the state’s attorney general involved. Weatherpersons are wrong and shouldn’t be paid? Another of those cretins who thinks they know the cost of everything (but, as the adage goes, know the value of nothing). It’s been shown that if the TV weather persons simply said, “Tomorrow’s weather will be a lot like today’s,” they would be correct more than 50% of the time… unlike their usual attempts to spin the information from the National Weather Service—which is where they all get their raw data. Meteorologists? It’s like calling me a doctor because I know how to access the internet’s medical sites.
Yeah, I know some of them have degrees in meteorology, and some really know what they’re talking about. However, most of them appear to be slaves of the networks, which are fighting for ratings. The worse the meteorologists say things will be, the higher the ratings, and the higher the advertising revenues. Did you know that “meteors” were once defined as anything that appeared in the heavens, from clouds to comets? Just saying, you know.
I find it disappointing that the Christian fundamentalist preacher who ordered Irma, in the name of his god, to return to the Caribbean, failed in that attempt. I also wondered what he had against the peoples of the ravaged Caribbean islands who would face the brunt of his curse.
It was interesting to see that an ugly haint, known as a right-wing political pundit, claimed that Harvey was her god’s punishment of Houston for electing a lesbian mayor. That was almost as ludicrous as the mega-church preacher of the ‘my god wants me to have a mansion and G5 jet” persuasion who claimed that Harvey was his god’s test of the people of Houston. I guess we can assume that the 70+ people who have already died failed that test. To bad we don’t know exactly why they failed. Nor do they include the thousands who are devastated by the storm, the hundreds who will die from cancer after exposure to toxic chemicals that got into the water that soaked into their drywall, and on and on. You should be able to complete this picture.
A news story I saw last night showed Trump at Camp David meeting with his cabinet about Irma. Apparently he started the meeting with prayer. Ummm. That didn’t work for the Xtian Fundamentalist preacher who ordered Irma, in his god’s name, to “turn back.” I just don’t understand. If you believe your god can stop (or mitigate) a storm, you must (if you are a rational person) believe he (or she) also caused the storm. But, why would he?
Of course you know that an infamous (and ugly as sin, initials AC) political pundit and author said that Harvey was her god's punishment of Houston for having elected a lesbian mayor. Of course, this mayor wasn't in office when the storm struck. What? Her god couldn't gin up a storm earlier? He (or she) forgot?
Joel Osteen, he of the "Jesus wants me to have a mansion and a G5 jet" said Harvey was his god testing the people of Texas. I guess it's safe to say the 60+ people who have already died so far failed that test, as did the thousands who are displaced, and the hundreds who will contract cancer from the toxic chemicals that got into the water and then into the drywall of their waterlogged homes, and the thousand who will suffer stress as a result of the storm. Looks like Joel's god got this one right... with all the testing that has happened and will continue to happen for years... he (or she) got a lot of bang for his (or her) buck.
Of course, it goes without saying that god (some god) is testing the people of the Caribbean islands, Florida, parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. with Irma. I'm not sure what this god is doing with Irma's little brother, Jose, who is likely to spin around and flake out some 700-800 miles due west of Miami. Perhaps god (he or she) decided Jose wasn't needed. Why, then, didn’t he (or she) simply cancel that storm? Inquiring minds want to know. (Maybe Trump can turn Jose into a divine border wall, but only if he prays enough.)
I think it is just as logical to say that Harvey and Irma are some god's punishment of this nation for having elected Trump.
When it rains, it pours. I learned today not only that Irma was projected to sweep over me next week as a tropical storm, but also that millions of “customers” of Equifax had their personal information, which might include names, addresses, social security numbers, and drivers license numbers compromised by a hack or flaw of Equifax data bases.
Naturally, I’m not happy.
First, I’m not a customer of Equifax, although their web site says my personal information may be included in the breach.
No, I’m not a customer. Creditors, insurance companies, lenders, credit card issuers, leaseprs, have colluded with Equifax and the other national credit monitoring services to collect, without my permission, information about me and my finances. That information is then offered for sale to anyone who wants to buy it. Usually, that’s limited to insurance companies, banks, and other lenders.
I’ve never needed a credit report or a credit rating. I’ve used the same bank for some 35 years… three home loans, checking account, two credit cards. When I recently asked for an auto loan, my bank had all the information it needed to make that decision—and give me a loan with a 0.01% APR. Yeah, I’m a good guy.
So why do I need Equifax? I don’t. They, and others including Experian and Trans-Union, need me and they need information about me. Information they don’t have any right to have
That’s right. They don’t have any right to that information, and we as consumers should demand that they do not collect or store that information. Not that it would do any good for us to do so.
I don’t believe that the Revelation of St. John the Devine is truth… it’s an apocryphal and a little frightening myth… but the idea of the “Mark of the Beast” offers a lesson. What might be that mark? A tattoo of “666” on our foreheads? A death camp number tattooed on our arm by Nazis, the models for today’s right-wing haters? IMHO, we are already bearing that mark, and it exists on the internet in the form of records of our every moment, records that will outlive us perhaps until the end of civilization.
How many of us have been compromised? Depends on whom to which you listen. More important, what is the source of that compromise?
One report says 143 million records. On the other hand, most of that information has already been made public (although for a fee) by people who offer such. There are many more examples of information about us, collected, and then turned into a profit-making opportunity by modern vultures.
It’s safe to say that we all have been compromised not only by the Experian experience, but also by hacks that have penetrated other credit reporting agencies as well as a hack that exposed something over 200 million records collected by a contractor of the Republican party. Yeah, remember that? Or has it slipped from contemporary memory (yours, to be sure) by time and more “important” things?
The wonderful thing about this is that Professor Pangloss is reveling in his pleasure. You do remember him, don’t you? If not, consider reading “Candide.” If you haven’t, and still have access to Amazon, consider buying a copy.
I understand that Equifax is offering “free credit monitoring.” What does that mean? Not a damn thing. What, then, can you do?
Freeze your credit. Contact Experian and others and demand they freeze your credit.
Very important: Change your passwords for all money accounts (bank credit cards, autopays, and similar). Use different passwords for each account.
Do not link credit cards to your phone. “Auto pay,” and “touch pay” and other fancy things are cool and they are convenient, but they are also traps. If you can’t pay by cash or use a credit card, don’t plan to pay.
Do not use debit cards. If a credit card is compromised, you have legal protection. If a debit card is compromised, you have no protection. That’s right: someone cannot only empty your bank account, they can also overdraw your account, and you have absolutely no legal protection. If you have a debit card, lock it up (better, shred it).
Keep your car’s gas tank at least half full all the time… it’s smart whether there is a storm or not.
Make a “bug-out bag” with clothes, bottled water, certified copies of important papers, and a list of meds and other things including DME (durable medical equipment), diapers and other things you will need.
Believe it! Listen to your government…
The GA Goobernor ‘s pronouncement will certainly benefit hotel and motels, restaurants, and others. There’s always that underlying concern. But for the most part, they’re going to be overly-concerned for your safety. Listen to them.
In the end, it’s better to react (which is happening) than to plan. It is better to react than to over-react.
Our Georgia Goobenor has invited us to pray to the imaginary friend he pretends (or truly) to believe in. What does he expect the result to be? His god is going to save us from a storm his god caused? Is there any better definition of irony?
For a longer exposition, please see “Holy Fire,” my novel that can be ordered from Amason.com from the home page of this web site.
Camille, Andrew, Katrina, and Harvey are names that evoke horrible memories. Names that evoke images of presidents and politicians pontificating, “We will rebuild.”
What no politician said was that most of the rebuilding would be done to pre-hurricane standards. Sure, people in certain high-risk areas such as the Florida and Gulf Coasts and in New Orleans have been required by regulations and insurance companies to build to new standards. However, cities and states received scant help from the American taxpayers to rebuild to tougher standards. Few local politicians were willing to raise taxes or utility fees to rebuild to tougher standards. Images of houses on stilts, once common only along east coast beaches, now grace many residential areas in New Orleans. Most of them don’t look nearly as elegant as this one.
For the most part, however, roads, sewers, chemical plants, electrical infrastructure, have been rebuilt with no heed taken to future weather-related disasters. And, it looks like Houston will fare no better.
Trump is right about one thing: the American infrastructure of roads, bridges, canals, electrical production and transmission, oil and gas pipelines, water and sewer systems, and other elements needs a shot in the arm. The Federal Government is best equipped to deal with this, especially where infrastructure elements cross jurisdictional boundaries.
However, just in time for Harvey, Trump cancelled an Obama-era order dealing with federal emergency aid. By doing so, he virtually guaranteed no federal aid to build infrastructure elements such as bridges and roads to higher standards. As a result, they will fare no better when the next storm hits.
Remember, that Trump believes Climate Change is a hoax created by the Chinese to destroy American business. Remember that Trump’s staff immediately after his inauguration purged the whitehouse.gov website of climate science information.
Remember that the Trump version of reality at www.whitehouse.gov, especially the “America First Energy Plan,” is in part, “…Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and Waters of the U.S. Rule… committed to shale oil [“fracking”]… clean coal technology… reviving [the] coal industry…”
There is no such thing as “clean coal.” It is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, and rebranding it “clean coal technology” doesn’t make it any cleaner. Action on climate change and to protect the waters of the United States is neither harmful nor unnecessary. Saying so doesn’t make it so. Perverting the Bully Pulpit to say it so doesn’t make it so.
Trump has also called climate change a “con job,” a “hoax” and “bull ---t.” His appointments of former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator show clearly that those words are what he believes. His attempts to walk back his opposition to the Paris climate pact, the role of the Chinese, and the anthropogenic component of climate change are only attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. His beliefs have not changed.
It appears to me that Trump’s desire to make America great (again) is being buried under bad decisions on many fronts, including his orders and positions denying the reality of Climate Change.
Months before Trump was elected, I wrote about this notion, and predicted the “H” hurricane (in my case, Hillary) and the devastation because utilities had been rebuilt only to pre-hurricane standards. Check it out on the home page. The book is available from Amazon.com. The “Hillary” report is on Page 366 of the printed edition. If you’re reading the Kindle edition, search for “Hurricane Hillary Hits Hard.”
The Obama Administration’s June 2013 “Climate Action Plan” no longer appears on whitehouse.gov, but a .pdf copy is available at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf
www.whitehouse.gov A search of the site using the word, “climate” got two hits from history (c. 1933 and c. 1961 in the biographies of two First Ladies). The only current hit was from the “America First Energy Plan,” in the sentence: “…Trump is committed to eliminating…the Climate Action Plan…”
Trump on “clean coal,” climate change denial: See Blog Posts of 2016-12-13
Trump on climate change and cabinet nominations: See Blog Posts of 2016-11-18, 2016-12-19
Trump on Paris Agreement on climate:
Republican Party platform on fossil fuels and climate change: Blog Post 2016-11-18
The science and reality of climate change:
Blog posts of 2016-12-07, 2016-10-21
Rebuilding to pre-flood standards: https://apnews.com/e3dd6ec99f9546eaa9f736d6fc2ad0a1
Our understanding of climate and weather is insufficient to blame any individual storm on Climate Change. But (there’s always a but), we can say with very high confidence that the Harvey’s massive amounts of rain are very likely the result of Climate Change.
How can we do this?
During the winter of 2016-2017, the temperature of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico was higher than ever before. Warmer water evaporates faster than cold water. The air that Harvey blew over Texas was packed with water, which is still falling in record amounts.
The temperature of Gulf waters is one thing that validates the science of Climate Change.
Scientists and laypersons can be confident that climate change has threatened the human race through more extreme weather events, including storms like Katrina and Harvey.
We can be confident that climate change includes the droughts and heat that have sparked years of increased wildfires in the western US. We can be confident that heat waves in Europe and Russia that killed thousands are a face of Climate Change.
We can be sure that new diseases with vectors (e.g., mosquitoes) that have spread far beyond their origins are a face of climate change. We can be sure that the spread of Lyme disease and Zika are faces of climate change.
We can be sure that poorer air quality in many locations (e.g., downwind of wildfires, in over-heated cities) is an aspect of climate change.
Harvey is not the ultimate storm. It’s been called a “600-year” storm, meaning it’s as bad as anything that might occur in a 600-year period. That’s a bold statement with no evidence yet produced to back it up. It may have originated in hysteria.
Nevertheless, Harvey is another example of what science has known and measured for a century. Since the 1960s, the number of heavy rain days has increased dramatically and the amount of rain falling on these heavy rain days has also increased… we’re getting more water more often, especially in the Midwest.
To echo Mr. David Leonhardt’s Op-Ed column in the “New York Times,” 29 August 2017 (first reference, below), it’s time to stop whining about Climate Change. It’s time to understand that there is no equivalency between the work of thousands of scientists who agree on the major points of climate change and the few shills of energy companies who deny climate change. (To those shills, I would add Trump, who has said that climate change is a hoax and the hoax was created by the Chinese.)
Now for my advertisement: my dystopian novel, “Holy Fire,” available from Amazon describes a number of effects of climate change. All are plausible. Some are pretty frightening. I hope you’ll read the book. You’ll find links on the home page. Thank you.
For my fellow geeks: heavy rain days are defined as two-day rains that exceed the five-year average. See the next link.
“Can people be taken from the jungles of Africa and forced into slavery [later] be fully integrated as citizens in a majority white population?”
This question is posed in an article entitled “The Black Dilemma” which has been attributed—wrongly—to The Baltimore Sun newspaper.
The question is posed as a “hypothesis to be tested.” That is a legitimate process. However, I claim that it is the wrong question. Let’s explore that.
You know the “one drop rule,” which says that anyone with any ancestor from Sub-Saharan Africa is considered black. This was never a federal law; however, it was law in Tennessee (passed in 1910) and in other states. Not to be outdone, Virginia finally got in the act in 1924 when the Racial Integrity Act was passed.
You may also know the rule of hypo-descent: children with a mixture of blood from different social or economic groups are assigned to the group with the lower status.
Here’s the kicker. Everyone alive today, and everyone who has ever lived, is descended from hominids who evolved in sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, everyone alive today is, by those rules, black. (Actually, if we were to follow the thoughts of Langston Hughes, we’re brown. You see, in Africa, “black” means “pure black.” Those of us who are melanin-deficient are, at best, brown.)
There are, to be sure, two competing hypotheses about the origins of modern humans. However, both are based on the findings of geneticists and paleontologists, and both posit that all humans originated in Africa. One hypothesis is that there were two migrations from Africa, one 130,000 years ago or so, and one between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. The second hypothesis is that there was only one migration. While there is debate, and while study continues, there is no argument but that all modern humans are descendants of people from Africa.
Some of the most recent research, from Cambridge University, is firm in its conclusion that our species, Homo sapiens, originated in Africa about 150,000 years ago, and migrated to Europe, Asia, and Australia between 60,000 and 45,000 years ago. The research also supports an earlier migration of the ancestors of our cousins, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens ssp. Denisovia, with which later humans interbred.
But why different skin colors? That’s easy, and it’s not rocket science. It’s not even ninth-grade general science.
We all need Vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D puts us at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. Low levels of Vitamin D have also been associated with prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and neuromuscular problems. If children do not receive enough Vitamin D from mother’s milk, they can develop rickets.
Vitamin D is not really a vitamin; it got that name because it was discovered back when vitamins were being discovered. It’s a chemical produce by a chain of chemical reactions that begin in the skin when sunlight (ultraviolet B) strikes one kind of cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol). Two more chemical reactions take place in the body before Vitamin D is created.
But, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL). Sunlight also can create skin cancer. When our ancestors lived in Africa, those who had lots of melanin in their skin (making their skin dark) got cancer less often, lived longer, and were more likely to have children who inherited their dark skin. There was enough sunlight near the equator to make Vitamin D, and enough melanin to protect from skin cancer. Over time, their descendants’ skins got darker and darker.
When our ancestors migrated to higher latitudes where the sun isn’t as bright as in equatorial Africa, dark skin was no longer a survival factor. Instead, those with lighter skin who could absorb more sunlight and make more Vitamin D lived longer and were more likely to have children who inherited their light skin. Over time, their descendants’ skin got lighter and lighter.
We all are descended from people who lived in Africa and who had black skin. The only significant genetic difference is that some of us are melanin-deficient.
The question should not be “Can we coexist?” but “Why do we not seem to be able, in this country at least, to coexist?”
The only answers I see are ingrained bigotry, ignorance, and fear.
So, to Trump and his coterie of melanin-deficient Nazis: By the rules of your white-supremacist ancestors, you are black. Live with it.
(Both Snopes.com and the Baltimore Sun aver that the article was never published in the Sun.)
Langston Hughes, The Big Sea, an Autobiography (New York: Knopf, 1940)
Zero-T, or Zero-Tolerance is no more than an attempt to create an easy, one-size-fits-all solution that allows school administrators (from teachers to boards of education) to manage without requiring them to think.
As Ms. Sherri Jefferson so eloquently put it in her article in “The Fayette News” (Fayette County, Georgia) on July 24, 2017, "...zero tolerance means having no tolerance for children or their misjudgments..."
Zero-T as practiced today ignores the contradiction in the phrase, "juvenile delinquent." The opposite of "delinquency" is "responsibility." Responsibility is an adult trait and one that we should be teaching children rather than punishing them when they fail to meet adult standards. Especially when the punishment is indiscriminate and applied without due process or in manner that makes due process impossibly difficult to obtain. That is delinquency. That is adults being irresponsible.
The number of egregious abuses of a school's Zero-T policy that reach the public's attention likely masks hundreds, if not thousands, of abuses that don't reach the media. Think of the student of Middle-Eastern ethnicity who built an electronic clock, and whose family eventually left this country rather than face the slurs and attacks of the school system and community.
Ms. Jefferson also wrote something that should be self-evident: "...students do not belong to the state." As she clearly showed, children do not give up their constitutional rights when they enter school grounds.
To paraphrase John Donne, "No one is an island. We are all part of humanity." We all, therefore, bear responsibility for the mindless implementation of Zero-T policies in our school systems.
I call upon the school boards everywhere to obliviate all vestiges of Zero-T in the nation's school system, and I call upon citizens, whether parents of students or not, to demand this of their elected representatives.
(Click button, below, for Jefferson article.)
A friend recently mused, “Which will come first, Civil War II or World War III.”
I expect both.
The divisiveness in this country now being nurtured by the president, the demagogues surrounding the president, the congress, and the press will increase. This will continue to be fed by social media.
Skirmishes between extreme right activists and those opposing them will expand.
Ultimately, the government in this country following the example of Russia, China, and countries in the Middle East and Africa, will seize control of the internet and suppress protests and access to information.
More people will understand the gulf between rich and poor, the inequalities of wealth and income not only in developed countries but also between developed countries and other countries. This will lead to increased unrest, protests, and riots.
Extreme right movements, aided by individuals and nations who meddle in elections, will take greater roles in European governments.
Law and order—the rule of law—in this country and throughout the world will gradually be replaced by demonstrations, counter-demonstrations, and riots.
Hitler’s rallies at Nuremberg will be eclipsed by those of the American president.
There will be greater global competition for resources, primarily food and energy.
There will be more migration not only between countries but also within countries as people flee crime, riots, and violence in urban areas.
This will further strain resources of developed countries, leading to more conflict and migration.
There will be more severe climate events that will lead to more migration and further strain on resources. Climate change will facilitate the release of new diseases. Old diseases will find new vectors, and disease will be spread worldwide.
There will be millions of deaths from starvation and millions from murder as people and nations try to defend their property and resources.
There will be more radical religious groups fighting guerilla-style wars.
There will be more armed reactions to these wars by developed countries using high-technology weapons,
Developed nations will expand their current “wars-by-surrogate” (e.g., Syria) leading to more incidents and low-level clashes between forces of the developed countries.
Eventually, we (humanity) will be engaged in World War III. It will not consist of alliances of developed nations facing one another across trenches or in cyberspace. It will consist of civil wars in multiple nations, religious wars especially in and among countries with largely religious populations, skirmishes between citizen militias and regular military, multiple proxy wars between and among developed countries, and worldwide breakdown of civilization. It will truly be a world war.
If you've not read, “Holy Fire,” which describes a different dystopia, please check the home page and order a copy. I don’t pretend it’s a modern “On the Beach,” but it has its moments. And, it’s cheap on Kindle.
Solar eclipse glasses are widely available at big-box stores. Civilization eclipse rose-colored glasses are also widely available and apparently widely used.
Robots. Recordings that cannot be interrupted. “Artificial Intelligences” that mimic people. Offers for credit cards, discount vacations, warnings that a vehicle’s warranty is about to expire, offers to fix credit, offers to obliviate student loans.
At least a dozen times each week these frauds and others call.
They pretend to represent the US Government, your credit card company, your bank, a vacation destination you visited, and more. They will try to sell you services not just for immediate profit, but to convince you to release personal information they can then use to destroy your credit and your life.
More than frauds they are thieves. They steal the cellular minutes you pay for. They will steal your identity if you’re not careful.
They are using cheap internet access from India and elsewhere. They have found a way to make your cell phone report to you that the call is coming from a US area code, even a specific US city. The phone numbers displayed in your caller ID may not be a real phone number. Worse, it could be a number they have hijacked. It could be the phone number of an innocent.
If you answer a call, your cellular carrier sends a signal to these thieves which they use to trigger their computers to start a recording, a robot, or, less and less often, a live person.
They call in defiance of the National Do Not Call List… after all, what leverage does the Federal Trade Commission have with India, and what would they do anyway? Any attempt to stop this egregious theft would be branded by the trumpsters as “restrictive regulations unfriendly to business.”
More recently, these thieves have apparently found a way not to be recorded in the “recents” list on my iPhone, making it difficult to report the number to the Federal Trade
Commission. There is no doubt in my mind that this is done in collusion with internet service providers, cell phone carriers, the manufacturers of cell phones, or all three. In my mind, the most likely culprit are cell phone carriers.
After all, they are in business to sell minutes. They don’t care who they sell minutes to, and they’re delighted when someone in India uses the internet to hack into the US cellular system and force you to use minutes to deal with these calls.
Here are some examples of the frauds. How many do you find familiar?
“Press 1 to talk to someone; press 5 to be removed from our call list.” Translation: if you press 5, you have confirmed that your phone number is valid and that there is a person on your end. That will put you on a list to be sold to multiple sources and guarantee you more calls. Don’t press buttons; hang up.
“Sorry, I was having trouble with my headset.” Translation: a recorded voice says that in order to make you think you are talking to a real person. Hang up.
“United States Department of Education Rule 4567.” Translation: someone wants you to think you are being contacted by a US government agency. Hang up.
“This is [someone] from Credit Card Services. There’s nothing wrong with your credit card…” Translation: I want to sell you a new credit card that you think will save you money or allow you to go deeper in debt. Hang up.
“This is [someone] from Vehicle Warranty Department. You didn’t reply to our letter [which they never sent] and your vehicle’s warranty is about to expire.” Translation: I want to sell you an expensive and probably unnecessary extension on your vehicle warranty even though I don’t know what you are driving or what are the terms of the warranty. Hang up.
“You stayed in one of our resorts recently and have earned credits that…” Translation: I want your credit card number so I can charge a reservation that you think you’re getting at a bargain, but it’s not. Hang up.
“Is Jill (or some other name) there?” Translation: I know there’s no one by that name at your number. (If you answer, “Sorry, no one here by that name,” the next thing you will hear is, “Maybe you can help me.”) It’s a scam. Hang up.
How do you protect yourself from this theft (and worse, the frauds they perpetrate)?
Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. Your cellular plan almost certainly has a “voice mailbox ” function. So far, robots aren’t leaving voice mail messages. Maybe they find that ineffective. Be sure, however, that if they do start, it will be in collusion with the cellular services.
Whatever you do, don’t press any numbers and don’t accept an “opportunity” to talk to a “real person.” The odds are that the real person is an artificial intelligence, a computerized robot.
Don’t listen past the first few words. Hang up.
Notify the FTC and complain to your cellular carrier.
This link will take you to the “complaint page” at the Federal Trade Commission:
To sign up for the national do not call list, start here:
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
This apothegm is credited to US President Abraham Lincoln. An older version appears in Proverbs 17:28. The King James Version reads, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
We know, or should know, that Trump is not a “man of the Book.” His façade as a religious person had broken. It lies in the detritus of his past. We should not expect him to know, much less understand, anything from the Bible.
Trump’s arrogance includes noting of the press that he is president and they are not. It sets the example for other politicians. For example, Christy of New Jersey, spotted on a beach closed to the public because of the state’s budget crisis (let us hope he wasn’t wearing a Speedo) suggested that if people wanted to visit a beach, they run for governor.
Trump’s putative hatred of Muslims, refugees, immigrants, and others who are not “white, straight, Christian, and Republican” was well expressed in his campaign speeches. His subsequent “tweets” set the example for others who are insecure in their own heritage and who, therefore, hate those unlike themselves. It encourages hatred and violence.
Trump—the default president of the US because our forefathers had to travel by horse and coach in order to certify votes and therefore created an electoral college—is in simple terms, a fool. He speaks out too often and in ways that create divisiveness in this country and bring shame upon this country throughout the world. He speaks in ways that weaken the position and standing of the US in the world.
Soon, Trump will visit the president of Russia. Putin is a KGB thug, a criminal leading a kleptocracy. Trump likely wants to have that kind of power and it is not unlikely that his vision for the United States is a similar form of government—a government by thieves.
We have lost our way. Trump is destroying the USA. On the other hand, impeaching him is not the best option. Pence, a fundamentalist preacher, would simply be another, different frightening and destructive force.
In the words of the Wiffenpoof Song: “We are poor little lambs who have lost our way.” While those words are familiar, how many of us know the penultimate line: “God have mercy on such as we.” Can we find the right direction when our putative leaders are fools and idiots?
(For the record, I am an atheist and do not need a creator god to explain the universe or life as we know it. On the other hand, I am not averse to quoting those portions of the Jewish Bible that make sense, nor appealing to the noosphere which includes the god of that bible.)
Will Trump’s legacy be a culture of conflict and a nation in ruins?
There are rumblings from the Middle East that the recent isolation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Yemen, and the Maldives was not, as Tillerson said, merely the result of longstanding differences, but the direct result of Trump’s recent challenge, issued in Saudi Arabia, for the Muslim world to come down hard on terrorism. (This despite Trump’s message of friendship to the Emir of Qatar.) There is speculation that the current crisis was created by Trump.
It is frightening to think that one narcissistic individual can wield this kind of power. It is more frightening than a psychopath having access to the US nuclear launch codes.
A Louisiana representative to the US House is reported to have called for a war against the “Islamic horror” and is quoted as having said, “[the] free world… all of Christendom… is at war” with “radicalized Islamic suspect[s]” and “Kill them all.”
Could Trump’s polemics against Muslims, not just recently but consistently over the past years, have created a culture in which Clay Higgins, that Republican representative, felt not only motivated but comfortable in speaking that way?
It is frightening to think that Trump’s constant appeals to his base, and their base nature, could have created that culture.
Could Trump’s embracing President Duerte of the Philippines, a man responsible for more than 7,000 extrajudicial murders in that country, create an environment in which alt-right vigilantes felt empowered to follow that example and murder not only suspected or accused drug users, but also those who disagree with their (his) views?
It is frightening to think that Trump’s rhetoric and actions point so strongly in that direction.
Could Trump’s failure to contradict his Attorney General’s new “war on drugs” lead to even more Blacks being incarcerated for minor crimes? Already, over 40% of the American prison population is black, yet Blacks make up only about 13% of the population. (Can you not see what’s wrong with that?)
It is frightening to think that Trump’s failure to step in, a “sin of omission,” shows he accepts and endorses this situation.
Could the blatant conflicts of interest between Trump the occupant of the White House and Trump the businessman lead to similar crimes by others? After all, if the Criminal-in-Chief can do it, why shouldn’t I be able to?
It’s frightening to think that Trump is creating a culture that endorses criminality, that divides us by skin color and ethnicity, that further pounds the middle class into oblivion, that throws away the heritage of “liberty and justice for all.”
In “Holy Fire” (see the home page of this web site), I portrayed one way in which the world might end should right-wing radicals gain political power. I’m sorry to say that I was naïve. They are worse than I could have imagined. (Still, it’s a good story. Please check it out.)
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.