I won’t go into detail about how my PayPal account became overdrawn.* It was a mistake (not mine). The mistake-maker assured me the problem was resolved days ago. PayPal being PayPal, though, what’s “resolved” on one end may not be on the other. So there’s a $50 negative balance and nobody will fix it. That means I can’t use my account.
No problem. Hey, I’ll just add money. There’s a handy-dandy button for that. But suddenly, for me, the button yields only a variety of bizarre messages (“talk to the person responsible for setting permissions on your account”) that leave PayPal customer service reps as baffled as I am.
This became a four-hour customer service nightmare this lovely Sunday morning. I won’t go into detail about that, either.** Except to say that PayPal’s customer service makes the famously bad Comcast service look like a concierge operation at a fawncy hotel by comparison. And except to say that one rep told me (humiliatingly) that I’d have to deal with their collections department. Then he cheerfully transferred me to collections — without mentioning that they’re closed today.
And of course, PayPal being PayPal, they can’t be bothered with an automated “we’re closed today” message. So there went yet another half hour of my life, listening to endlessly repeated mini-lectures from a voice that sounded increasingly smug by the moment, until — for the second time today — I hung up without managing to speak to the human in some other department who was supposed to help.
Not only that, but the fifth PayPal rep I talked to — who I’d already told that story to — also tried to transfer me to collections.
I know Peter Thiel hasn’t run PayPal in more than a decade. But its service was hair-tearingly deplorable a decade ago, too. Hard to believe that a man the media lauds as a great libertarian created something that operates so much like the freakin’ DMV. Or the IRS.
If you ever need a reminder of how little you really matter to institutions, corporate or governor, just call up PayPal and ask them something really, really simple.
Oh, and the problem never did get resolved. You didn’t really think it would, didja? I get to call collections tomorrow and present myself as a deadbeat making amends.
Not only is it a place of some lively blogitude and comment. Not only have we had 4,000-some visitors in the 10 days since the Lovely Nicki put up a counter. Not only has social-media maven Nicki gotten us somewhere in the vicinity of 1,100 Twitter followers in a matter of days. But we’ve gotten our first interview request (which Sheila will handle), a couple of requests to join, our very first donation (a monthly commitment, yet!), and demands for logoed tee-shirts, fridge magnets, etc.
Whew! Workin’ on it, workin’ on it!
For a bunch of volunteers who are putting this thing together in their scarce spare time, this is awesome.
But then, so are the volunteers. And so are the hardcore rights advocates who won’t settle for compromise.
* In case you’re wondering, all those wonderful donations got moved out of PayPal almost as soon as they came in, thanks to PayPal’s other notorious habit of arbitrarily freezing accounts just when they have nice sums of money in them. PayPal: can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. Someday — soon — they’ll lose their de facto monopoly, and on that day they’ll rue the fact that they treated their customers like crap all these years.
**Yeah, you’ve had experiences exactly like this, right? You don’t need to be told anything.
Just in case you ever wanted to become a crooked psychic/fortune-teller/medium … or in case you’d like to explain to a gullible relative how not to be so easily conned, here’s how cold reading is done.
I don’t intend to make this the all-Ebola all-the-time blog because I do think the fear is overblown (for everyone except medical personal). But here’s some plain common sense for avoiding exposure to infectious disease. And for those who really feel the need for hardcore protection (and have the money and time to go for it), here’s that, too.
And hey, if you’re really going to buy moonsuits and the kind of respirators (scroll down that page) needed for real Ebola protection, please don’t forget to use my Amazon links. Those could generate some very nice commissions — unfortunately for anyone who really needs such gear.
Not confirmed yet. But if true this could be a sweet lesson for those meddling “Moms” who believe in trying to get every open carrier SWATted. Will keep an eye on this. I’ve searched a couple of times today and found no further information.
As a health-care outsider, but one who cares about preps, I wouldn’t necessarily expect a hospital in the midlands to be ready specifically for Ebola. But with all the talk these many years of potential biowar attacks and pandemics, I’d certainly expect more and better preps at any hospital than the slapdash, make-it-up-as-you-go, and dangerously half*ssed measures the anonymous nurses describe.
Of course, they are anonymous, and on the face of it, it’s hard to know whether their statement represents a grudge-holding exaggeration or genuine outrage and terror from people whose lives have been put at risk. And people who watched others’ lives be endangered.
But now that a second Dallas nurse has been diagnosed, the bland assurances of hospital management and the accusation from federal officials that the first nurse’s infection must have been all her own fault ring even more false.
We also know that this second nurse, while self-monitoring for the disease, flew twice on commercial airlines — including one flight the day before she reported to the hospital with a fever. We can hope that the latest assurances — that she was asymptomatic at the time, that the disease can’t be spread by someone showing no symptoms, and that the planes have now been cleaned according to (I roll eyes as I say this) CDC guidelines — are all more reliable than past assurances have been.
Everything is still officially fine, of course. All that’s needed are a few billion more dollars of tax funding and the CDC, and National Institutes of Health will — really, truly this time — have Ebola well in hand. And really, truly, they won’t blow any of those billions focusing on obesity, guns, or any other politically driven (non) “epidemic.”
I still think it’s way too early to panic — and of course panic won’t be productive even if/when it is time. I would never expect Ebola to get as out-of-control here as it has in West Africa, even with a fair degree of stupid involved. Not even remotely.
But if what we’ve seen represents the general level of preparedness and precaution that health-crats and hospitals practice, then it may indeed be time to worry, and to examine our own preps with infectious disease in mind.
More later on that.
Another potential vector I’d include in my worries involves those thousands of soldiers (slowly) being sent into the “hot zone.” We’re assured that they’ll never, ever, ever have any contact with Ebola sufferers. But they’re also mostly young men and women. Many are likely inclined to be risk takers. And do you believe for one moment that those who are sending them have made any better preps than the officials at the CDC or that Dallas hospital?
These people will return to the U.S. and disburse — possibly to a military base or a neighborhood near you.
No, I am not saying it’s time to duct tape ourselves inside those airless “safe” rooms the fedgov was so (potentially fatally) advocating a few years back.
Just stating the obvious: that the people who are supposed to be in charge of infectious-disease containment appear to be as clueless as the people in charge of … well, everything else that’s run or regulated by government. And — also obvious — that concern for the welfare of individuals or so-far Ebola-free communities is simply not on the radar of “officials.” So it had better be on our own radar.
Furrydoc asked in comments the other day, “Where’s the CDC?” (in fighting Ebola in the U.S.) Rhetorical question, of course. She knows quite well where the CDC is: giving bland assurances to the media about being just right up there on top of Ebola while primarily occupying itself with profitable and political mission creep. These days it’s focused on “epidemics” such as obesity and “gun violence.”
Ron Fournier, at the National Journal says the scariest thing about Ebola isn’t the disease but our growing lack of trust in government and other institutions.
Sorry about the loooooong BHM-wide downage yesterday, guys. Oliver the webmaster tells me it was the result of a security update gone awry at the hosting company. But all should be well now.
Today is the day The Great Roof Project begins! Two stages. The first involves returning part of the roof to its original form (after a long-ago “improvement” done by a committee of chimpanzees on a no-bid government contract). After that, the actual roofing crew comes in.
Crews must coordinate with each other on timing. Weather holding so far. Might have a few nervous-making days. But winter should be dry inside — thanks to you.
Now for some links. I’m shifting away from “news” as I mentioned the other day so it takes a little longer collecting good stuff. Fortunately, I get by with a little help from my friends.
Although this item is kind of “news” (it being about how people hate Eric Holder), I’m linking it as “anti-news.” Note the percentage of those polled who simply don’t know who the guy is. I used to think such ignorance was shocking and dangerous. Now? I rather envy it.
How the power of no saved my life. (James Altucher’s off-kilter notion of no. H/T Randall in comments.)
For those who are rilly, rilly, rilly serious about their guns, old acquaintance Ian of Forgotten Weapons, is now producing episodes of InRange.tv. It’s pay-per-episode, but with Ian you always know you’ll get something you can’t find elsewhere. (Via Joel)
I was going to save this for Halloween. But what the heck; weird dog videos are always in season. (Tip o’ hat and a smile to Jim B. in comments.)
Um … I’m really not sure why various news media keep presenting this as amusing. I know socks often go mysteriously missing. But 43 (and a half!) … you’d think the family would have wondered. (Tip o’ hat to S.C.)
Smart homes are stupid. Maybe it’s only because the tech is new and just developing. Maybe … some of it’s actually stupid. (Not to mention intrusive and insanely insecure.)
I have no idea whether the cop in the Ferguson shooting was justified or not. Thiscop in Ferguson should be busted below the level of janitor. UPDATE: He has at least been taken off duty. It’s a start.
Not sure whether this is high-tech creepy or just Cold Warish enough to be weird. Gov’t listens in on scientists listening to marine life and … well, it’s complicated. (H/T H.)
You have the right to remain silent. But only after cops tell you have a right to remain silent. ‘Cause if you remain silent before that it’s because you’re guilty. Got that? If not, stay out of California. Cheers!
Yeah, I know this actually came out last spring. But in this iteration of the news they keep using the word “startling.” Somebody is actually startled by this???
It’s rather like being startled by the sun rising in the east. A chancre turning out to be syphilitic. Or a politician lying. Still the study (early draft here) could be worth sharing with your “vote-to-make-a-difference” friends. Full study due out this fall, so we’re not months behind the news here; we’re months ahead of the next round of shock! Dismay! And we must DO SOMETHING about this!
(And yes, I know my fellow anarchists will chide me about various aspects of this. Nevertheless, it’s funny in a sad sort of way. And that border guard does tell the truth — perhaps even more than he knows.)