The Alabama Moderate

Painting the Red State Purple.

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Archive for the ‘Corporate Craziness’ Category

Larry Langford Isn’t the “Big Fish” for the Feds

Posted by ALmod on October 21, 2009

Many people have asked…  If this isn’t a case of political persecution, then why hasn’t Bettye Fine Collins been indicted yet?  That’s a good question.

Well, let’s set aside the whole fact that the FBI has been for some time up to their eyeballs in public corruption cases.  Typically, it’s in your better interest to start with the “smaller fish” and see if you can cut deals so that you can catch your “bigger fish.”  And some smaller fish have been pursued before they went after Langford.  But there are still fish in the water– many, many fish.

Langford is a big fish, but he isn’t the big fish.

My gut is telling me that something very big is about to come crashing down on J. P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs.  The number of times those names have been brought up in the first two days of testimony alone is telling.

EDIT: I forgot to include Lehman Bros. in the names being brought up in this trial.

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Posted in Alabama Government, Corporate Craziness, Federal Government, Jefferson County, Scandal | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Larry Langford Isn’t the “Big Fish” for the Feds

More Epic Fail: Denying Infants Health Insurance

Posted by ALmod on October 16, 2009

He’s four months old. It’s not like there’s anything he could have done to cause himself to be particularly chubby.  His mother isn’t overweight.  As Jon Stewert put it (paraphrased by me), it’s not like his mother’s breasts are named Ben and Jerry.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Federal Government, Health and Wellness, Legislation | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on More Epic Fail: Denying Infants Health Insurance

Epic Fail: Could someone please teach the private insurers how to lie properly?

Posted by ALmod on October 15, 2009

Again with releasing extremely misleading reports that fact check themselves?

The newer study was conducted for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, which also says its findings on premiums would be different if it factored in other aspects of the bill…

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Federal Government, Health and Wellness, Legislation | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Glenn Beck has never heard of cookies or EULA statements?

Posted by ALmod on August 8, 2009

Here’s a clip I found amusing:

The line Beck is so worked up about is basically an agreement for the owner of the program/site (in this case, that would be the U.S. government) to monitor you while you use it.  There are a number of reasons for this and a number of ways to do it, but it’s done by virtually every site out there– including this one and Fox New’s own website.

Now before you accuse me of doing something dreadfully horrible, hear me out.  Most sites install what is called a “cookie” on your system for various reasons.  Perhaps you want to stay logged into that site when you return to it the next day.  The cookie keeps that information so that it’s possible to do that.  It also helps keep track of other personalized site features.  For me and other bloggers, it gives us nonpersonal information like the amount of site traffic we’ve had and where that traffic was referred from.  I’m not exactly getting your bank account information or name or home address.  But I can tell you what Google search words sent you here.  I can also tell things like what type of browser you were using.  That helps me to improve my site and get more traffic.

It also helps sites that are supported through advertisements to better assess which ads to place and so forth.  Government sites want to make sure that you’re not doing anything illegal with their site– like creatively modifying it to send out a virus or datamining it for the personal information of other people who have used it.

This is nothing new.  In fact, it’s been going on for years.  If you own a computer, chances are that you’ve already agreed to these terms with Microsoft (or whoever else owns the operating system you’re using) and the owners of any other software you have.  Back when the RIAA was first freaking out about pirating, it became increasingly popular to monitor and make sure you weren’t using any stolen software.  And yes, the process would have allowed them to see other things as well.  In fact, the first thing I thought of when I saw the agreement that Beck is ranting on was the End User Liscence Agreement (EULA) that I have to agree to everytime Blizzard releases a new patch for World of Warcraft.

Check out #17, in particular:

“A. WHEN RUNNING, THE GAME MAY MONITOR YOUR COMPUTER’S RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY (RAM) AND/OR CPU PROCESSES FOR UNAUTHORIZED THIRD PARTY PROGRAMS RUNNING CONCURRENTLY WITH WORLD OF WARCRAFT…

B. WHEN THE GAME IS RUNNING, BLIZZARD MAY OBTAIN CERTAIN IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR COMPUTER AND ITS OPERATING SYSTEM, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION YOUR HARD DRIVES, CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT, IP ADDRESS(ES) AND OPERATING SYSTEM(S), FOR PURPOSES OF IMPROVING THE GAME AND/OR THE SERVICE, AND TO POLICE AND ENFORCE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT AND THE EULA.

C. Blizzard may, with or without notice to you, disclose your Internet Protocol (IP) address(es), personal information, Chat logs, and other information about you and your activities: (a) in response to a request by law enforcement, a court order or other legal process; or (b) if Blizzard believes that doing so may protect your safety or the safety of others.

D. BLIZZARD MAY MONITOR, RECORD, REVIEW, MODIFY AND/OR DISCLOSE YOUR CHAT SESSIONS, WHETHER VOICE OR TEXT, WITHOUT NOTICE TO YOU, AND YOU HEREBY CONSENT TO SUCH MONITORING, RECORDING, REVIEW, MODIFICATION AND/OR DISCLOSURE. Additionally, you acknowledge that Blizzard is under no obligation to monitor Chat, and you engage in Chat at your own risk.”

And be sure to check out the Fox News website’s Privacy Policy to read all about how they collect and use your Personally Identifiable Information (“PII”).  In my humble opinion, they actually do a fairly good job of clarifying and simplifying everything– much better than the website that Beck is harping on.  But it’s still pretty much the same thing.  In fact, just for fun, pull out some software manuals (if you kept any of them) and start reading the privacy policy.  Even my web browser collects a certain amount of information.

And if you use satelite or cable television?  Well, that’s being monitored, too.  For similar purposes.  Ain’t “privacy” grand?

EDIT: After taking another look at the video, I realized that the highlighted exceprt Beck is going on about is specifically targeted at hackers who might be using the site to “mine” personal data.  Considering that this is a government site that asks people to log in with personal information, it could potentially be a dream come true for those with nefarious purposes.  And so, it would make sense for them to monitor the use of the site.  If they noticed anything suspicious, they could notify a third party government authority (foreign or domestic) should they suspect an attack of that nature.  Now, being a video gamer, I probably see it a lot more than some people because it’s very prominent in the video game industry.  But the Chinese industry for this sort of thing is HUGE.

EDIT: FactCheck.org has weighed in, and they actually caught something I didn’t.  The site in question is for dealers and not every day citizens/car buyers, as Beck seems to be implying.  (And he did imply well, as I thought he was referring to a site for participating consumers and not dealers.)  Regardless, the assessment is the same — nothing nefarious or unusual is going on here, and these two are overreacting.  In fact, the EFF says pretty much the same thing I said, which is that the language is meant to alert the user that the site is working to keep personal information secure.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Entertainment, Federal Government, Laugh It Off, Mainstream Media, Republicans, Video Games | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Today in DUH: Obama Edition

Posted by ALmod on August 3, 2009

First, let me start out by saying that I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last posting.  I was going to blog on the whole JeffCo thing, but chances are you’ve heard from other sources by now, and quite frankly, I was WAY too mad to write anything sensible.  I’ve instead taken to commenting on the matter elsewhere.  Maybe after today I’ll calm down long enough to write something that doesn’t contain any creative adjectives.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m actually a proponent of some sort of public health care plan.  I like single payer, but at the very least, I’d like a public option.  (Of course, I think suplemental insurance should always be available for people to purchase should they want it.)  And yes, I’ve always been realistic about the costs.

So why is it that Obama seems to have just now come to the realization that “taxes may rise to pay [for public] health care”?  Duh.

Mostly, I think it’s because the word “taxes” has such an ugly political connotation to it.  Yes, you’ll pay more out of pocket for taxes.  I think the average American isn’t stupid enough to believe that any of this will be free (or that rainbows and puppies will rain down from the sky).  But why not just give the facts.  Overall, most Americans will pay less for their healthcare, whether that’s through taxes or premiums.  In other words, you may pay $50/month more in taxes, but you’ll save $100/month on premiums, and in the end, you’ll have $50/month more in your pocket.  While those are purely made-up numbers, the fact is that the U.S. pays more in health care every year for less coverage in comparison to other countries which have a single payer or public health care option.

Yes, the local police are paid for by my tax dollars, and I’d likely pay fewer taxes if we didn’t have police, but it’d be a heck of a lot more expensive if I had to hire personal bodyguards to protect my family.  Still, I am more than able to hire bodyguards in addition to police protection should I ever wish to.

In the end, I think the American people will have fewer objections to Obama’s health care if he’d just be straight up with us about the cost.  Whoever is handling the president isn’t doing a good job of it, and he comes off like he’s hiding something at the end of the day.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Federal Government, Health and Wellness, Legislation | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Today in DUH: Obama Edition

Universal gets movie rights to a video game…

Posted by ALmod on July 3, 2009

…and it’s Asteroids.  Really?!  As in…  Asteroids?!

The best comment on this came from Woody over at GU Comics:

“Set in the deepest reaches of space, you are the pilot of a sophisticated starship beset by alien vessels and massive rock structures. Your only saving grave is a high tech phaser array. Okay, enough of that snarky bullshit. There was no backstory. There was not plot at all. You were a triangle, shooting dots at jagged, roughly circular polygons that would break up into smaller, jagged, roughly circular polygons.

“I don’t know what shocks me more. The fact that Universal would buy the movie rights to Asteroids or the fact that they had to beat out 3 other studios to get them.”

I think this is how you know that the Hollywood trend of making movies from video games has probably gotten a little out of hand.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Entertainment, Laugh It Off, Video Games | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Universal gets movie rights to a video game…

Another Reason to Drink Pepsi

Posted by ALmod on June 23, 2009

I’ve just purchased a couple cases of the new Mountain Dew Game Fuel to try it out.  Of course, this may be all of the product I drink.  I normally drink diet drinks, and this has WAY too much sugar for my taste.  It still makes a nice occasional treat.  But I’m a big fan of the Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, and the grocery store is sold out.  It’s fizzy goodness.

Then this morning, I got the following forwarded email from the American Family Association.

PepsiCo sponsors four more gay pride parades

June 18, 2009

Dear xxxxxxx,

Following their sponsorship of the New York Gay Pride Parade scheduled for June 27, PepsiCo has agreed to sponsor four more gay pride parades – Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and Cleveland. Click here to see the kind of parade PepsiCo is sponsoring.

PepsiCo shows its employees caught in this destructive and harmful lifestyle no compassion, no support to help them leave it. Rather,PepsiCo spends huge sums of money to promote the lifestyle.

AFA has asked PepsiCo to be neutral in the culture war regarding the homosexual agenda and the legalization of homosexual marriage, but PepsiCo adamantly refuses to do so.

PepsiCo requires employees to attend sexual orientation and gender diversity training. It supports homosexual groups with gifts totaling over $1 million. PepsiCo refuses to give any money to groups such as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gay and Gays (PFOX) that work to help individuals change their sexual behavior.

So as it turns out, not only do I already love Pepsi products, but now I find out that if I drink them, I get the opportunity to tick off the AFA!  Bonus!  I do so hope that someone sees me drinking it and approaches me with the above “knowledge” so that I can respond with, “REALLY?!  I need to drink MORE of this stuff!!!”  Then I give them a hug, tell them I’m contagious, and then skip away while waving a rainbow flag or something.  (NOTE:  I’m happily hetero, and I don’t carry a rainbow flag in my purse, but it doesn’t make the mental picture any less amusing.)

Here’s what the email goes on to suggest that you do to fight this “horrendous act.”  The last one was something I found particularly amusing, since it might not exactly have the desired affect if your friends and family aren’t raging homophobes.  (In which case they could end up like me and doing the exact opposite.  My comments are in brackets.)

Sign the Boycott Pepsi Pledge. After signing the pledge, please call Pepsi (914-253-2000 or 1-800-433-2652) and tell the company you will boycott its products until it stops promoting the homosexual agenda.  [I signed this petition and then called Pepsi to tell them that I will drink more of their products as a result of learning about this.]
Call the Pepsi bottler nearest you and ask it to stop supporting the homosexual agenda.  [I called them to tell them to keep up the good work.  I like for people in Alabama to have jobs, and Buffalo Rock is a big employer.]
• Pepsi’s products include Pepsi soft drinks, Frito-Lay chips and snacks (800-352-4477), Quaker Oats (800-367-6287), Tropicana (800-237-7799) and Gatorade (800-884-2867).  [I called the AFA to thank them for giving me a premade grocery list and taking the guess work out of it for me.]
Print the Boycott Pepsi Pledge and distribute it. [I’m not a big fan of fliers and consider them to be a waste of paper and source of litter.  So I put this up on my blog.  Good enough.]
Forward this e-mail to your friends and family so they will know about Pepsi’s support of the homosexual agenda. Millions of people are not aware of Pepsi’s support of homosexual organizations.

I know what you’re thinking.  The AFA is harmless, right?  Well, let’s not forget that this is the same group that pushed for the arrest of a U.S. Congressmen simply because he was openly gay and threatens companies who do not discriminate against homosexuals in their hiring practices.  If you read up on their history, you find that this group is a few “God Hates Fags” signs away from picketing soldier funerals.  Be very careful of any “Christian” group that sponsors hate or exclusion or fear of an entire demographic rather than attempting to reach out to them.  Meanwhile, I take great pleasure in doing all I can to foil the plans of such groups.

What I find amusing is that at this rate, AFA members are “boycotting” so many different companies that they’ve pretty much eliminated themselves from the consumer base.  Of course, that would have to mean that AFA members made good on their threats, which I doubt.  My last count included Ford, Kraft Foods (which owns several other brands), Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, Kodak, various fast food chains, Disney, and several others.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Laugh It Off, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Is it just me? An increase in incorrect billing.

Posted by ALmod on May 28, 2009

Over the past few months, I’ve considered myself lucky and at the same time cursed.  I consider myself lucky because if I’d been raised to be less diligent in reading my bills and documentation, we’d have paid out roughly $2000 more.  At the same time, this has been at the expense of wasting countless hours over the phone with various customer service reps while arguing over how I’ve been charged for something I shouldn’t have been.

I’m not the only one.  A quick Google search would suggest that incorrect billing is on the rise just in time for the economy to be in a mess and your paycheck to be feeling the stretch.  Could this be a coincidence?  Maybe, but I don’t believe in coincidences.

I’ve heard the stories, and I’m sure you have, too.  There are some companies out there who do it on purpose to see if people will pay the bills to avoid the hassle, but if you call them, they’ll remove the charges.  (By the way, keep an eye on your credit report, too.  If they “forget” to correct their mistake, they could very well report you.)  My current battles have been with Windstream/Dish Network and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

The problems with Windstream started when they offered to bundle my phone service with my internet and dish service (Dish Network).  At the time, it was explained to me that it would cost the price of the bundle plus whatever my current rate was with my dish service.  It was never explained to me that it would renew my contract with anyone, though I assumed my contract with my phone company would be renewed.  Since the price on my dish service remained the same according to the person I spoke with, I never assumed my contract with Dish would be renewed.  Imagine my surprise when we switched to DirecTV and were told by Dish that to cancel would cost us nearly $200 for breaking our contract.  There was nothing in writing other than a call summary ticket that was written by an employee of the company who sad I owed them money (how convenient).  Nowhere did you see anything written with my signature agreeing to the terms.  I was able to talk them out of the cancellation fees on the grounds that they deduct the $5 savings that we’d received for a few months from our prepaid month of service that was to be returned.

But that’s not where it ended.  After the service had been cancelled and the receivers for Dish had been returned, our next phone bill came in with the usual monthly charge for dish service.  We called Windstream and thought we’d resolved the issue.  We didn’t have to pay the dish charge.  When the bill came again, there was the charge same as it was before, and so the process began again.  (If this happens a third month in a row, we get free DSL service for two months.  Perhaps that will give them proper motivation to correct the bill.)

Blue Cross/Blue Shield has been a matter of not receiving coverage we’re paying for.  Our documentation states that regular office visits and preventative care are covered with a $20 copay.  There have been no changes to that coverage in 2-3 years and there will be no further changes until August of this year.  So when I showed up for my yearly gynocologist exam and find that I had an unpaid account balance, I wasn’t happy.  I actually paid that one, since it was only $10.

But then I got the bill for $50 from a lab in Atlanta for my pap smear.  It had been filed with the insurance company, and BC/BS hadn’t paid up.  Maybe it was filed incorrectly, so I decided to wait until I got the statement from BC/BS.  I only had to wait one day.  The statement showed where my doctor’s office had charged them for the test and the exam (all standard and all covered in every single yearly visit I’ve had since my teens), but BC/BS didn’t pay it and stated in the statement that I owed $150 to my doctor and the lab for services that should have been covered in my roughly $130/month premium.  The reason given according to the statement is that I’ve already received maximum benefits for this treatment for the year.  Considering that I only have one exam per year and I’d actually waited longer than a year in between, I don’t see how that’s a possibility.

So tomorrow I get to do the dance over the phone with BC/BS.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

So keep this in mind when you get your bills.  These are just two of the most recent situations where we’ve noticed problems.  Don’t just pay your bills.  READ them.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Economy, Health and Wellness, Public Outrage, Scandal | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Michael Steele: Private health insurance is burdensome on small businesses.

Posted by ALmod on May 16, 2009

Okay, so maybe that’s not what he actually said.  But consider for a moment what he’s suggesting.

Private health insurance is burdensome on small businesses, and I agree with him on that fact.  And if a small business (or even a large corporation) has issues with getting the deals that it can get on “bulk buying” private health insurance, then how exactly is it not to be expected that an individual who does not receive such a benefit from his employer would have the same issues?

But on the subject at hand… Isn’t it just abso-posi-lut-a-tively adorable that Mr. Steele seems to think that gay people only wed people of the same gender to gain legal benefits?  (And Santa Claus is real, too!)

You know what else is going to burden small businesses, Mr. Steele?  Straight couples.  Let’s say we forbit company employees from getting married and having children.  Those do put a rather large strain on the company as well.  And seeing as how that’s the majority of workers, I’d say that would ease a HUGE burden on those small businesses.

And for that matter, paying salaries also hurts businesses.  What say we cut that out, as well?

Just remember, folks.  When GM and Chrystler tank, it’s all because of “the gays.”

Posted in Alabama Government, Corporate Craziness, Health and Wellness, Laugh It Off, Republicans | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Michael Steele: Private health insurance is burdensome on small businesses.

WTB Our Sense of Humor Back

Posted by ALmod on April 14, 2009

I couldn’t help but comment regarding the outrage over a recent Burger King ad.  Seriously?  We are that well off that we have nothing better to gripe about?  Here’s the ad:

I laughed.  I’m sure that was Burger King’s intention.

Before we go off on the appropriateness of children’s programming, let’s talk about the cartoons that I watched as a child.  I don’t know how many more like me watched Looney Tunes, but the number of cross-dressing male toons was substantial.  And don’t get me started on He-Man and the Smurfs.  Remember Wonder Woman’s costume?  And violence?  I’m sure that Wile E. Coyote had good intentions toward Road Runner.  Pete wasn’t exactly a cuddly character when it came to Mickey Mouse, and let’s talk about swinging cats by their tails for a bit.  I’m sure PETA would have a field day.

Those never seemed to be a real issue then or now.  I grew up without any major psychological setbacks.  I have no idea why anyone would take issue to Sponge Bob’s childishness.  It’s just childish, guilty fun– the way a cartoon is supposed to be.  Not everything that’s entertaining has to be a model for behavior.

As for commercials…  I’m more concerned that my daughter might start parroting the genital herpes commercials.

Posted in Corporate Craziness, Entertainment, Laugh It Off, Public Outrage | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on WTB Our Sense of Humor Back