Archive for November, 2010

 

Verizon FIOS Part 1 Zillion

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

So.

I suppose it’s time for an update on my adventures with attempting to get Verizon FIOS installed in my house. As you may or may not recall, I ditched cable tv some time ago. I later decided to switch my Internet connection to FIOS, over my current provider, Comcast. Verizon insisted on looking at my credit report, which I refused to let them do, but eventually they let me make a deposit to retain my privacy. They set an install date, which they couldn’t keep, moving my installation to the end of the summer. And that’s where I left my story.

So the date they had selected to do the installation wasn’t going to work for me, so I called to reschedule for a few weeks later. On September 11, the guy shows up, and was very friendly. He first said he needed to go look at the hookup in the manhole across the street (the power and cable lines are buried where I live, instead of being on telephone polls). He came back and told me that somebody had screwed something up in the manhole, and that he needed to call a crew in to come and fix it, which he did. And in the meantime, he installed the fiber into my house, and got the box inside ready to go.

After finishing his in-house install work, he told me that the work in the manhole was not going well, and that they may need to reschedule. About two hours later, he confirmed that this was in fact the case. He said engineers needed to come out and fix the work that was previously messed up. He apologized, and said someone would call me to reschedule.

After about a week, nobody called me, so I called Verizon, who told me that engineering “Keeps to themselves” and that the rep had no idea when the issue might be fixed. He told me to try back again in about a week. About two weeks after that, Verizon called me to reschedule the installation, which we did on November 6. The Verizon tech came into my house, saw that everything was hooked up. I explained to him what had previously transpired, and he went back out to the manhole to confirm that the engineers had done their job.

They had not. Or rather, they screwed things up in a different way.

The tech apologized to me and told me he was calling an emergency crew off a job in Woburn to come out here to fix the problem, since this had been the second time they had attempted to install (not including the original spring install date I’d been given) and the problem had not been fixed. The Woburn crew came out and again, explained that the problem was too big for them to fix, and that the engineers needed to come out to fix the problem. So I said “whatever” and sent the tech on his way.

So yesterday I received two calls from two phone numbers that showed no caller IDs and that Google came up blank on. As you may have guessed, the calls were from Verizon looking to install FIOS. Why Verizon can’t identify themselves in caller ID is beyond me. Anyhow, they followed up the call with the following email to me:

Dear ROBERT SAMA,

Unfortunately, we did not install your FiOS service at the time of your original appointment. We attempted to call you to reschedule your order,MA00055820521, but have been unable to reach you.

Please allow us to contact you to discuss the order or to reschedule installation appointment. You won’t be disappointed. There is nothing like FiOS; fiber optics straight to your door providing the best entertainment experience, the most innovation, the fastest internet all at an amazing value.

> Unlimited Calling, FiOS Internet and FiOS TV – 100% digital powered cutting edge fiber optic technology
> That’s unlimited calling, FiOS Internet, and Digital Entertainment for one low price without the hassle of switching companies!

We value your business so please email us today with a new installation date that is convenient for you.

Thank you for allowing us to serve your communication and entertainment needs

Uh huh. I love how the marketing message stuck in the middle is COMPLETELY WRONG as well. I’m not a current Verizon customer, and I have no interest in cable tv or telephone services.

Anyhow, the question is, do I bother with this or not? What’s the likelihood that they actually got this shit fixed this time around? I’m guessing that it will be a repeat of the last two times, but you never know. And then there’s this:

Level 3 has accused Comcast of demanding fees to transfer data from Level 3′s backbone to Comcast customers. Level 3 describes this as “Internet online movies and other content,” which would mean everything, even though it’s calling out movies. Level 3 signed a deal on November 11th to act as one of Netflix’s primary network providers. In October, Internet monitoring service Sandvine said Netflix streaming represents 20 percent of all U.S. Internet non-mobile bandwidth use during prime-time hours.

At least Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon, has acknowledged that the era of buying cable TV from a Cable TV company is fading, and that in the future, all they’ll be selling is Internet service. But Comcast really seems intent on screwing everybody in their path. I may have to call Verizon back just because of that. But I’m open to suggestions.

What do you think?

 
 

Rob Sama Goes to Logan Airport – Commando Soprano

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

So today is the day I need to fly for Thanksgiving. It just so happens to be National Opt Out Day, do I thought I should be duly prepared for my opt out experience.

The first thing I needed to decide was what to wear. I had read with great interest Jonah Goldberg’s TSA experiences, and especially his suggestions that men wear kilts to the airport, and that they “go commando”, otherwise known as wearing no underwear. I generally liked the idea, but not being of Scottish or Celtic descent, I didn’t happen to own a kilt, and I felt that I would generally look silly wearing one, to the airport or otherwise. But being of Italian descent, I decided that what I should wear was a velour sweatsuit, and go commando with that. The baggy sweatpants should, I figured give me plenty of room and leave nothing to he groper’s imagination. So I ordered a Doo Doo Brown velour sweatsuit from Sweatsedo, and some matching rubberized slip on Corrado Native Shoes in the difficult to find Buccaneer Brown color. I call this look, “Commando Soprano”, and it it how I will dress while traveling by air from now on. Here is the resulting ensemble:

I went outside to Starbucks to get an Egg Nog Latte and the suit is surprisingly comfortable. Though going commando in these cold, strong winds makes my junk feel cold. Nevertheless, we must soldier on for the cause!

So I’ll let you know how it goes. I installed Qik on my iPhone, so hopefully I’ll be broadcasting the entire thing live from the samaBlog Qik page. And hopefully, these videos will automatically archive over to Youtube. I fly at 1PM, but I’ll tweet when I get to the airport. Wish me luck!

UPDATE: I went through security. I got selected for the scanner and I refused. As previously, they tried to get me to walk through the machine on the way to my patdown. I refused to walk through the machine. This confused them, and they oddly enough wouldn’t let me walk through the metal detector either. Eventually they opened a gate and let me through.

Was patted down by an older man. Asked him to put on a fresh pair of gloves and he seemed happy to oblige. He gave me a paydown very similar to what I’d received before. he did not grab my junk. In a sense I’m disappointed, but I will be happy if this marks a permanent end to the junk grabbing. Still, the nude machines have to go.

 
 

Don’t Touch My Junk

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Charles Krauthammer is on fire today:

Don’t touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter. Don’t touch my junk, Obamacare – get out of my doctor’s examining room, I’m wearing a paper-thin gown slit down the back. Don’t touch my junk, Google – Street View is cool, but get off my street. Don’t touch my junk, you airport security goon – my package belongs to no one but me, and do you really think I’m a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 72-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come? [...]

The junk man’s revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.

But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?

This time you have gone too far, Big Bro’. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don’t touch my junk.

Read the whole thing.

See also this take on the Gadsden Flag, from IowaHawk.

Don't Touch My Junk!

 
 

Scott Brown On The Nude Machines

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Sen. Scott Brown’s office wrote me back, after I wrote to him asking that the nude scanning machines be removed, and the groping be ceased. I don’t think he’s on the same page with us as of yet:

Dear Mr. Sama,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the SAFER AIR Act of 2010 (S. 3536). I always value the input of my constituents on all issues and appreciate hearing from you.

As you know, on June 24, 2010, Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) introduced the SAFER AIR Act, which would implement new forms of airport screening technology. S. 3536 would authorize the use of full-body scan machinery to search for weapons, explosives, or other hazardous materials that are otherwise undetectable. Additionally, the bill would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from retaining images used in airport scanning, and also require that faces of individual be blurred.

Currently, S. 3536 is under review by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where it awaits further action. While I am not a member of this committee, I will certainly monitor the progress of the bill. As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the safety of our airports, flights, and passengers is a top priority for me and I continue to be actively engaged on these issues. I also understand potential concerns surrounding the privacy of travelers and believe Congress must consider that when forming transportation safety policy.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I will keep your views in mind should the Senate consider the SAFER AIR Act. If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or visit my website at www.scottbrown.senate.gov.

Sincerely,
Scott P. Brown
United States Senator

Bob Bennett was ejected from office for being out of touch with his constituents. Given his introduction of a bill authorizing the use of nude scanners at airports, that seems to have been a good decision by the people of Utah. Senator Brown doesn’t take any particular position in the email above. Let’s hope the pressure pushes him in the direction of removing the machines and stopping the sexual assault of ordinary Americans.

Support the 4th Amendment!

 
 

LEAVE EVERYTHING TO ME!

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

What ever happened to Powdered Toast Man anyway?

 
 

Dread

Monday, November 8th, 2010

I wondered if anyone objected to the nude posture photos.

You may remember the scandal. From sometime in the late 1930′s to sometime in the early 1970′s, incoming freshmen at Ivy League and Seven Sister’s schools were required to pose for nude photos, front and back. The ostensible purpose of these photos (nsfw) was to check for spinal diseases, but the real purpose was to attempt to validate some racist notions that body type correlated to intelligence. To call it pseudoscience would be a grave insult to pseudoscientists everywhere.

I’ve often wondered, why it is that nobody objected to these photographs. It seems incredible to me, that people would just accept it. I couldn’t accept it. Somebody, somewhere, must have objected. Somebody, somewhere, must have said no. I found this article by Ron Rosenbaum (single page, original source) that provided an answer:

What happened was this: In September 1950, Sheldon and his team descended on Seattle, where the University of Washington had agreed to play host to his project. He’d begun taking nude pictures of female freshmen, but something went wrong. One of them told her parents about the practice. The next morning, a battalion of lawyers and university officials stormed Sheldon’s lab, seized every photo of a nude woman, convicted the images of shamefulness and sentenced them to burning. The angry crew then shoveled the incendiary film into an incinerator. A short-lived controversy broke out: Was this a book burning? A witch hunt? Was Professor Sheldon’s nude photography a legitimate scientific investigation into the relationship between physique and temperament, the raw material of serious scholarship? Or just raw material — pornography masquerading as science?

I wish I knew who that young woman was. I would love to talk to her. What was she feeling when they told her what she’d be doing? Did she have the picture taken, and then tell her parents? Or did she storm out, and tell her parents immediately? Why is it that thousands of Ivy League kids allowed this to go on, and yet when Dr. Sheldon took his nutty show on the road to a state school, he was immediately rebuffed?

Rosenbaum provides an interesting theory as to why the men at least put up with the pictures. During the years that the posture photos were being taken, men were all drafted, and were used to military lineups and a complete lack of privacy. Not so with the women. Rosenbaum managed to find an archive of some of the posture photos that were not destroyed, and what he describes moved me:

As I thumbed rapidly through box after box to confirm that the entries described in the Finder’s Aid were actually there, I tried to glance at only the faces. It was a decision that paid off, because it was in them that a crucial difference between the men and the women revealed itself. For the most part, the men looked diffident, oblivious. That’s not surprising considering that men of that era were accustomed to undressing for draft physicals and athletic-squad weigh-ins.

But the faces of the women were another story. I was surprised at how many looked deeply unhappy, as if pained at being subjected to this procedure. On the faces of quite a few I saw what looked like grimaces, reflecting pronounced discomfort, perhaps even anger.

They felt helpless and degraded. Their welcoming gift upon entering college was to be sexually assaulted. I’ll say it again, god bless that young woman from Seattle.

So I’ve written previously about the nude picture machines at the airports, and my experience in avoiding being sent through them. But now they’re apparently doing an “enhanced” pat-down procedure that involved getting felt-up by perverts from the TSA. If you think it’s unfair that I should categorically call people who work for the TSA perverts, that they’re just guys “doing their job”, then why are they advertising “x-ray vision” as a job perk in their recruitment billboards? You get the type of candidate you recruit, and it’s hard to argue that they’re seeking out perverts with that kind of advertisement.

And so it is that I approach the holiday season this year with a sense of dread. I have to travel twice this holiday season, once for Thanksgiving and once for Christmas. Last time I flew, Boston only had the nude machines in the international terminal. I’m flying to DC for Thanksgiving, so I’m sure I’ll be hassled at least on the way home. But I’m concerned about my wife. She will be flying with our 1 year old son alone, and I am to join them a few days later. How is she possibly expected to go through a nude photo machine with a 1 year old? If she declines the nude photographs, which I assume she will (and which I will encourage her to do), who will look after my son while she is being man handled by the TSA perverts? How is it that they will conduct an “enhanced” pat-down on a diaper-wearing baby?

The whole thing sickens me.

If you haven’t yet watched the video linked by Drudge, of a woman discussing how male TSA agents wanted to manhandle her 7 yr old daughter, and how they sent a woman to do it after she intervened, you should. Personally, I prefer the grope to the photo because the grope is ephemeral, but the photo is everlasting. But in a free country, you really shouldn’t be subjected to either, not without cause, not without a warrant. The fourth amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Nude photos constitute an unreasonable search, and groping my genitals an unreasonable seizure, and the fact that I want to fly on the holidays does not constitute probable cause that I’m a terrorist. Is there no politician willing to pander to the likes of me for my vote, to promise to rid us of at least the infernal nude machines and gropes, if not the TSA itself? Is the only guy on record against these things one rep from Utah? Are there others? I’m not being rhetorical. Politicians who stand up against this deserve our support, and those who support the TSA our scorn. So in the spirit of Christmas, I propose making a list…

* *

If anybody has Lexis Nexus and can search old news articles, I’d be interested in hunting down that woman from Seattle who blew the whistle on the posture photos back in 1950. I’m guessing that she’s 70 today, but I think she would make a great spokesperson for this cause. Also, I’ve tried finding an email address for Ron Rosenbaum to get his opinion on this matter, but to no avail. Any help any reader could provide in that effort would be appreciated.

UPDATE: Found a Time magazine article online from 1950, but it’s very much an apologia for Dr. Sheldon.

 
 

Another Voting Fraud Methodology That Irks Me

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

From the Future of Capitalism Blog:

Third World election systems of the urban Democratic bastions of Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven, which always report their vote hours after everyone else, perhaps just in case Democratic candidates need a few extra votes once the votes from all other municipalities are committed.

It’s always the urban centers that can’t seem to get their votes counted as quickly as everyone else. That practice needs to stop. Either force them to announce first or make everyone report in to one centralized place, which announces all results only after every precinct in the state has reported in.

 
 

Analyzing the Election Results

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

While it was a good night nationally, it sure was a disappointing night in Massachusetts. Nationally, the Republicans took back the house, winning over 60 seats from the Democrats. They came up short in the senate, mostly because the Democrats only ever had 17 seats in play, though the Republicans appear to have won 7 or 8 of those (Colorado and Washington are still too close to call, so it’s only +6 as of this writing). I’m disappointed by the Nevada and Connecticut results. Connecticut in particular seemed like such a clear cut choice to me, but nothing compares to what happened in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, liberal voters felt under siege and turned out in high numbers. Charlie Baker was a terrible candidate, and Tim Cahill made the mistake of not running for the Republican primary. Regardless, the ballot questions were surprising to me as well. Question 1, to repeal the double tax on liquor in the state, barely passed. I’m convinced that there’s a certain population in this state that is basically neo-prohibitionist, and will vote for anything to restrict the sale of alcohol. Question 2 to repeal the low-income housing requirements failed. And Question 3 to reduce the state sales tax failed.

A few lessons from the question 3 initiative: The measure polled well before TV ads were run, and polled poorly and lost after TV ads were run. This says two things: TV ads are still effective, and the Libertarian apparatus in the state is incapable of raising money for TV ads. Question 3 had a natural constituency in retailers who must be feeling the heat from the increased sales tax. The fact that they evidently couldn’t raise money from those retailers to run ads indicates a certain degree of haplessness.

I have to say I was absolutely right on Sean Bielet, though even I got sucked in to some of his excitement thinking he might pull close. Here’s what I wrote in a comment on a Pajamas Media article predicting Barney Frank’s defeat:

Simply not happening. It may be close, but I do not see the Jewish populations of Newton and Brookline turning on the only Jewish member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. More likely they feel under siege and will turn out for Frank in high numbers.

Brown won the district, but there was no Jewish candidate in that race. Reagan won Massachusetts, but don’t forget he was Irish, and had that ethnic solidarity going for him as well. Were Bielat of Portuguese descent then maybe he could motivate the voters of Fall River enough to push him over the edge. Alas, he is not, and I’m afraid this race may not even be particularly close, much as I would like to see Bielat win.

At this point, part of me wonders if Bielat didn’t energize the opposition with his spirited campaign. At any rate, for all the money he spent and sucked out of other potential races, he only did as well as Gerry Dembrowski, who lost to Ed Markey and nobody thought had a real chance to win. Maybe Bielat will run for something else in the future. Or maybe we’ll never hear from him again.

I do have to say that the most disappointing race of the night for me was to see Mary Z Connaughton lose to Suzanne Bump. Suzanne Bump cheated on her taxes, accepted gifts inappropriately while in the legislature, and has never been a financial professional to my knowledge. Connaughton, OTOH, is a CPA who never cheated on her taxes. The auditor’s job is a technical one that requires real financial knowledge, and one that is the watchdog over the state. To be a CPA one must, among other things, apprentice for a number of years as an auditor, learning how audits work. It was appalling to me to hear Bump run ads implying that Connaughton’s claim to be an auditor was bogus. And it is deeply confusing to me how people could vote for an unqualified tax cheat over a qualified professional.

When you add these three things together, Patrick’s re-election, the loss on Question 3, and the election of Suzanne Bump, you have the makings of a fiscal catastrophe. The establishment on Beacon Hill will interpret this as a mandate to raise taxes, to spend without oversight, to really gorge themselves at the trough. So hold on to your wallets, kids, because it’s gonna be a rough couple of years here in Massachusetts.

2012 prediction: Stephen Lynch runs against Scott Brown and beats him by 5 points.

 
 

Election in General and Voting Fraud in Belmont

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

So at work they’re holding a betting pool on the election results. I figured I’d post my entry here. Play along at home if you’d like. My answers are in italics.

United States Senate (1 point for each correct prediction)

  • Which Party will have the majority? Republican
  • West Virginia Senate race: Manchin or Raese? Raese
  • California Senate race: Boxer or Fiorina? Boxer
  • Washington Senate race: Murray or Rossi? Murray [ed. if Rossi gets close, they'll cheat him out of it like they did last time]
  • Pennsylvania Senate race: Toomey or Seestak? Toomey
  • Nevada Senate race: Reid or Angle? Angle

US House (1 point each)

  • Which party will have the majority? Republican
  • Massachusetts 10th congressional race: Keating or Perry? Perry

Governor’s Races (1 point each)

  • # of governorships to be held by the Republicans? 33
  • Massachusetts: Patrick or Baker? Baker
  • Florida: Sink or Scott? Scott
  • Ohio: Kasich or Strickland? Kasich

Bonus Questions (2 points each)

  • Minnesota Governor’s race: enter final percentages: Datyon 49%, Emmet 41%, Horner 10%
  • Massachusetts Question 3: Yes 55%, No 45%
  • # of US Senate seats held by the GOP after the election: 51
  • # of US House seats held by the Democrats after the election: 189

Tiebreaker

  • Massachusetts 4th congressional district: enter final percentages: Frank 51%, Bielat 49%

So there you have it.

So Mrs. Sama went to vote in Belmont mid day, and noticed that our former next door neighbor (who moved 2 years ago) was still listed at that address, and that he’d voted. Now he only moved in town, so it may be that he just never updated his voter information. But it still likely means he’s voting in the wrong precinct. Regardless, rotten voter rolls do not inspire confidence in the system.