March 23, 2009

No Sympathy

So Chris Hansen published this "special" last night, which someone did the (dis?)service of sending to me.

Here, let me just give you some snippets:

Take the case of Paula Taylor, a personal trainer, who said she grew up poor near Boston and was one of the first in her family able to buy her own home. In 2006, she said she was virtually homeless, living out of a suitcase, sleeping on the sofas of family members and friends.

She was looking to rent an apartment, but then a realtor showed her a condominium for sale in a renovated house in Roxbury, Mass.

She was put in touch with a loan officer at Countrywide Financial who took her information. She knew she might have a hard time qualifying, but said she did not really understand a lot about the mortgage process. “I knew that you give them your information. And they run the numbers, and they tell you whether or not you can afford it.”

At the time, her income was somewhat erratic and amounted to less than $20,000 a year, she said. But somehow her loan application listed her income as $7,300 a month – $87,600 a year, more than four times her real income.

Countrywide issued her two mortgages to cover the full purchase price: $259,900. The first mortgage was for $194,925 with an initial interest rate of 8.625 percent, fixed for two years, then adjustable. The second mortgage, in the amount of $64,975, had a much higher interest rate: 11 percent.

The combined monthly payment for both loans was more than $2,100, well above her average monthly income of $1,600.

Pressed as to how the loan application could include inaccurate and inflated income information, Taylor acknowledged she didn’t really look closely at the loan documents and said she never noticed the amount until NBC News pointed it out to her. She denied knowingly submitting false information and pointed the finger at Countrywide: “It had to be them in order to finagle the numbers to say that I could afford this property.”

Here's another gem:

David Carbajal was not as fortunate. A gardener in Orange County, Calif., Carbajal had taken on a $600,000 mortgage, with payments adding up to more than $60,000 a year, substantially more than the $50,000 a year he said he earns. He had no real explanation as to why he never did the math to figure out that the house was beyond his means, though he was able to afford for a time because he rented a room to a friend. Not surprisingly, Carbajal ended up in foreclosure. Recently, he and his family were forced to move out.

The article goes on to contrast these two to a woman who appears to have knowingly defrauded companies of hundreds of thousands of dollars in bad loans and a series of bankruptcies as if to say "look, these are the good guys who were just screwed by the system."

Do you know how much it costs to get a real estate attorney to read a mortgage? $300 in most states. And this is if you're not smart enough to say "Oh look, this mortgage has me making monthly payments that ARE MORE MONEY THAN I EARN." We're not talking 25% of your income, we're not even talking the 39% that the government will restructure your loan down to if you're past that. We're talking over 100% of your income.

What do I have to say that?

Foreclose the house.

Evict the occupants.

Imprison the borrower.

Honestly, I'd like to meet the person who thinks these morons were somehow wronged. Mostly, I'd like to meet this mythical person so I can point and laugh.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:30 PM | TrackBack

December 11, 2006

Lawsuits for the Holidays

In a move that should surprise no one, in light of a threatened lawsuit, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has taken down its Christmas trees instead of adding a giant menorah to the display. While this could certainly be viewed as a defeatist reaction, I think the analysis by the airport spokeswoman really cuts to the heart of the matter:

"After consulting with lawyers, port staff believed that adding the menorah would have required adding symbols for other religions and cultures in the Northwest. The holidays are the busiest season at the airport," Betancourt said, "and staff didn’t have time to play cultural anthropologists."

As much as it reeks of stupidity, the business of a city isn't to get embroiled in frivolous lawsuits over religious expression. That said, I find the response of the lawsuit-happy rabbi to be somewhat disingenuous: “Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season."

I would totally agree with that, if it weren't that the menorah were being proposed with the threat of a lawsuit. The attempts at self-exculpation on the part of the rabbi's lawyer are particularly humorous to me: “They’ve darkened the hall instead of turning the lights up,” said Bogomilsky’s lawyer, Harvey Grad. “There is a concern here that the Jewish community will be portrayed as the Grinch.”

I, for one, think the Jewish community ought to be disgusted with Rabbi Bogomilsky and his lawyer. Whenever you resort to threatening lawsuits over something silly like putting up a religious symbol (especially when you note that Christmas trees are pretty much as close to a neutral symbol of the "Holiday Season" as you can get), you more or less make yourself and your organization out to be an belligernent ass regardless of what the response is from the other side.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:52 AM | TrackBack

April 13, 2006

Blizzard Customer Support

As many of you know, I work in a job where I am frequently forced to spend time on the phone with the technical and customer support departments of a variety of major technology companies. In fact, just the other day, I spent an hour on hold trying to get to the "Advanced Technical Department" at Alltel... just so that the lady on the other end could realize that they had failed to correctly copy the serial number of a customer's PCMCIA Cellular Access card into their systems and thus he couldn't dial in... but I digress.

I must say that Blizzard has surpassed my lowest expectations of the standards to which I hold even the little ball of phlegm in the back of my throat.... but I get ahead of myself. As some of you may know, back in December, a misplaced credit card initiated a great panic that resulted in cancelling said account before the card was relocated. Well, both Anna's and my auto-bill accounts for World of Warcraft were on said card.... and while mine had been fixed, we had never gotten around to fixing hers.

Yesterday, the billing cycle was up and autobill hit the dead card, putting the account on freeze. So, in the evening, we got home and Anna tried to update the account online. The problem is, Blizzard's authentication servers are tied to their online account servers, which are in turn, also tied to the servers needed to transfer characters. Now, character transfer and authentication have lately been borked out of their minds, so online billing really wasn't an option... it was quite broken. Not that we didn't try for a half hour to get past the mine-field of borked server-dom.... but we failed miserably.

So... at this point, Anna began calling Blizzard. It's at this point that things got really interesting: "Blizzard Customer Billing is closed for a department meeting. Please call back between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Time or hold for the automated billing system."

Wait, so the WHOLE DEPARTMENT is closed?! Alright... I guess I have to hold. But then the message repeats... again, and again, and again. So maybe automated billing is a lie? So I expressed doubt in Anna's ability to negotiate Blizzard's phone systems, and she gratefully allowed me to try. Same result.

So I tried online... and repeated, ad nauseum. And in the end I realized that all I had to do was wait for the close of business so that people would stop being able to transfer characters and maybe then I could get through.

Yeah, that's right, Anna and I wrangled with Blizzard Account Support for 2 or so hours last night. Any other company that made you work that hard to pay them on a model where you pay before you get service would be out of business.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:09 AM | TrackBack

June 14, 2004

Satanic Harry Potter

Want to know just how to justify a claim to Harry Potter being Satanic and Christian leaders like Colson and Dobson being sell-outs? Just read about it here.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:59 PM | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

Unrivaled Idiocy

Just when you thought SCO couldn't get any stupider, apparently they've decided to take several major companies to court. Namely: DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone.

My theory here is that SCO figures that these companies will just roll over and die and pay out the $700/machine fees and thus fuel their corporate lawsuits. On the other hand if as all good Linux fans hope, these companies decide to fight SCO in court and countersue, SCO could be in a very big predicament where their legal fees grow to astronomical proportions. We can only hope...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:10 PM | TrackBack

December 15, 2003

"Christian" leadership...

So yeah... a couple of goofballs from Washington convinced me to join this other guy's forum (note: he is related to the goofballs and lives in the same house with them.) Don't go spamming the thing or anything or I will have to authorize him to hunt you down and kill you. But if you like a good and honest discussion with a very friendly atmosphere, this is a good place.

That said, there was a wonderful thread about this forum called ClayShaker which, from what I understand, is intended to be a fairly positive Christian forum where people can fellowship and enjoy each others' company. Unfortunately, the admin of this forum is a 19-year-old college student with some interesting takes on leadership (read: he would make a good LU admin) which include: deleting posts which upset him and/or challenge the way he administers the board, banning people for doing such things, and construing disagreement about the two aforementioned policies as running afoul of them and thus cause for deleting disagreeing posts and banning users. Granted, from what I understand, policy is not concrete on this and in fact part of the problem is there really is no clear and defined policy and thus the only certainty is uncertain ambiguity.

Now, I normally would stay about as far away from something I know this little about except that the admin is being a power-thirsty moron and people are so fed up with it that they feel the need to discuss it somewhere, just to purge it. So, they went over to this other forum and proceeded to do so, and things were going well and I made one or two posts to try and help clarify what was going on and channel things in a good direction.

Well, as can be expected and even predicted, last night the admin of ClayShaker caught wind of this outpouring and was not happy. He rolled in and linked up this board on ClayShaker to encourage his people to come over and "fight the good fight." To be fair he brought one intelligent person with him whom I was happy to talk with. However, he also brought two morons and he himself was acting the part of a complete and total ass.

So I responded in about the nicest and most contrite way you will ever see the Cynic roll with, and the idiocy just kept on flinging. Now, as predicted, said admin is going to ban all offending parties from his board unless they come back on their knees and kiss up and try to resolve their differences in the dark, in secret. Does this sound to you guys like something LU admin would pull? All I can say is that we need to hire this guy, because he's got all the makings of a successful LeTourneau administrator and he's only 19: wants to resolve all problems in secret, is unbiblical, responds very poorly to admonishment, and just acts like a jackass... oh yeah, and there's no way on earth that he could be

All of that said, Cory (the guy whose forum this is) has called a moratorium on this thread for a while to cool it down and hopefully shed the light of reason rather than rampant emotion on it (from the perspective of the reasonable crowd)... so if you go over and read, don't respond to this pile of idiocy. Yes, we know it's there... we're just trying to give it some time so we don't have to drag it out and shoot it like the rabid dog it is.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:45 AM

December 07, 2003

The Joys of Telephone Surveying

More reading back through this old forum has brought to mind some old stories from back in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college.

Back then I worked a temp job through Office Team at Miami University in Middletown as a telephone survey facilitator at the Applied Research Center. I worked for Dr. Seufert making phone calls and fixing all technology that broke. When I wasn't actually fixing things or making fruitless calls, I administered surveys (hopefully I managed 1/hour, but frequently I got much less than that.)

(It has been noted that I have a somewhat dark view of humanity and have been known to posit that people are stupid on a fairly regular basis. Reading on should give you some indicator as to why I feel as I do.)

Here are some of the fun things I came up with while surveying (all true stories, I wrote them down as I surveyed):

Cynic (on the phone): "Hello sir, my name is Cynic and I'm calling from...."
Man on the other end: "Y'all need to stop sendin' me stuff"
Cynic: "Uh, sir, I haven't even told you who I was calling from, and we don't send out any "stuff"
Man: "I'm sure y'all have been sending me somethin, and I ain't got time for this crap"
Cynic: "Sir, could I at least tell you whom I'm calling with so that you could make a more iinformed judgement"
Man: "No, just quit sending me stuff and leave me alone"
Cynic(muttering to himself): "I guess I mark that as a hung up and he gets called back until he politely refuses or completes the survey"


Cynic (on the phone): Now I'm going to read a series of statements and you need to tell me 'yes' or 'no' to each of them.
Man: Ok
Cynic: I will encourage my child to say 'no' to sex
Man: Is that until they're married or altogether, because while I want my kids to abstain until they're married, they're not like my neighbor's kids. I don't want THEM to EVER reproduce.
Cynic: Well, I'd assume it's just until married, but the question doesn't say. Oddly enough, nobody's ever picked up on that before....


Cynic: I'm going to read some income catagories and I want you to stop me when I reach the one that includes the approximate total annual income of your household.
Crazy Lady: I don't have any income.
Cynic: I mean for your entire household... everyone who has income in your household.
C L: We have no income
Cynic: ok..... [marks the less than $10,000 a year bracket]
Cynic: Now how many kids do you have?
C L: 4
Cynic: And how old are they?
C L: 17, 14, 12, 9
Cynic: And how old are you?
C L: 28

<Cynic is now on the phone with Crazy Lady's son>

Cynic: Do you feel it's wise or foolish to attend parties where alcohol...
Crazy Son: [interrupting] I'm not allowed to go to parties
Cynic: Ok.... And how do your friends feel about attending....
C S: [interrupts again] I'm not allowed to have friends
Cynic: Uh... ok, well.....
C S: I'm not allowed to go out of the house without my cousin or my mother
Cynic: ok....

[towards the end of giving the survey to Crazy Son]

Cynic: How old were you on your last birthday?
C S: I'm not allowed to celebrate my birthday

Cynic: Ok, how old are you?
C S: 17

Cynic: [ends the survey and cowers in fear that people like this exist]

And my personal favorite...

Cynic: "Our information says that Jimmy has asthma"
Sadistic Lady: "He got cured"
Cynic: "Cured?"
S L: "Yeah, we got a surgery for him.... we drilled 2 holes in his sinuses and broke off some bones"
Cynic: "Bones?"
S L "Yeah, they was gettin the the way of his his breathin'"
Cynic: "Uh.... ok..... I think you're ineligible for the survey ma'am"

Now Playing
Linkin Park - From the Inside

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:09 AM

November 24, 2003

An Interesting Turn of Events

A friend of mine has been doing a critique on a paper for one of his. Whomever wrote this thing needs to take the English Review and a couple of remedial English Composition classes... not to mention some basic rhetoric.

Some interesting sentences include:

"This obedience was not merely legalistic and works oriented although it did involve a very legal aspect, since in Adam's failure all men have failed (Romans 5:12)."

"The nature of their fall seems to have set a precedent for further sin in the world that had formerly been good. Prior to the temptation of the snake Adam and Eve seem to have been quite content within the garden."

"Adam and Eve's trust in God and his promises and prohibitions is where their happiness lied."

"Genesis never explicitly states a leadership role for Adam in terms of relationships between people until after the fall when it was declared that the woman's desire would be for her husband."

(I would like to note that I have been taking great pain to be sure to copy the grammar, spelling, and punctuation on these.)

Now, my personal favorite just so happens to be the understatement of the millenium: "The fall of Adam and Eve is an interesting turn of events in the history of mankind."


So what, the flood was an interesting turn of events in global meteorology?

The birth of Christ was an interesting turn of events in Christian Theology?

The Creation was an interesting turn of events in cosmology (and maybe even geography?)

The fall of Communism was an interesting turn of events in contemporary international politics?

The bombing of Pearl Harbor was an interesting turn of events in World War 2?

France was an interesting turn of events?

Long story short.... this is special.

Anyone out there with an interesting turn of events?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:23 AM

October 24, 2003

Stupid People Strike Back!

Every now and again, I get afraid that my cynicism may leave me. After all, with every passing day, I intentionally shelter myself more from the idiotic public and spend more time with intelligent individuals. And this may last for a day or a week or even a month... but then I get out and I remember what the world is really like. And it's this kind of stuff that reminds me that I will always be a cynic and a firm believer that humanity is nothing more than a pile of hopeless morons.

One wonderful excerpt:

"I worked at the front desk of a hotel for about two years. It was at a major ski resort in the Rocky Mountains, destination of stupid tourists. "

Dumb Guest #1: "Can you tell me which of these mountains is the Rocky Mountains?"

Dumb Guest #2 (calling from room): "What time is it?"
Me: "8:30."
Dumb Guest #2 "Is that Colorado time?"
(I actually laughed in the phone, wondering why in the world I would give her the time for another time zone).

Dumb Guest #3 (calling to get room rates): "How much would a room with a queen bed be?"
Me: "$69.95 plus tax"
Dumb Guest #3: "Is that in American dollars?"
ME (well, I didn't actually say this, but i thought it): "No, that's 69.95 in Yen. If you want the conversion into American dollars you'll have to call someone who doesn't think you're an idiot."

Dumb Guest #4 (team captain for a European Men's Ski team): "Someone stole my skis."
Me: "Someone stole your skis? Were they in your room?"
Dumb Guest #4: "No, they were right outside the door."
Me: "You left your skis in the hallway?"
Dumb Guest #4: "No, outside the front door of the hotel. They where there last night, but I went outside this morning and they're gone."

And last but not least:

Dumb Guest #5: "Could you tell me how much the complimentary breakfast costs?"

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:19 AM

October 22, 2003

Morons are Back in Force!

There are lots of morons who should be shot... and their idiot lawyers with them. Here is a tale of one such set of morons. I feel their pain, but this is ridiculous. How about we not blame the video game makers and instead sue the defective parents?

If you are amused that people are sick and screwed up... check this site out. And for good measure, here's a man who got battered by his wife. Husband abuse!

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:45 AM

August 31, 2003

Pine Crest Bible Church

I'm always amused when I get the chance to go to a new church and muse upon the differences between their way of doing things and the way that I'm used to (along with all of the different ways that I've already run into.) This week, we had the joy of going to Pine Crest Bible Church and boy was it a fun time...

We rolled in a couple of minutes after the service had actually started and thus missed introduction. After what came later, I'm fairly grateful for that stroke of fortune. The singing selection was interesting and conservative (read: hymns), but hey, to each his own. After this, the real fun began as the pastor proceeded to preach from Revelation 18. For the first 20 minutes, I was exposed to this message: "Babylon is materialistic and materialism is bad... materialism is bad... materialism is bad... Babylon is materialistic... materialists will mourn Babylon... materialism is bad."

A fairly sound message, not very well preached and certainly not very deep, but fairly sound nonetheless. Then things got interesting as he proceeded to tell us about the evil demons and evil demonic birds that infested Babylon and went to this passage:
He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all {other} seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
Mat 13:31-32 (NASB)

He then asserted that this passage was referring to the "Mystery Kingdom" which exists between Christ's first and second coming. Ever heard of the Mystery Kindgom? If so, enlighten me, because this was a new and special reference. He then further asserted that the birds were clearly demons living in the time of the Mystery Kindgom. Anybody out there willing to take a hack at this?

While this was easily the most aggregious of the bad exegetics on display today, there were other interesting observations from the sermon, such as "modern pop cultural music" being evil and some more yammering about the demonic birds. I will leave others to review other aspects, but will close in saying that the constant advertising for the evening service on giving was a bit unsettling, especially in the face of this sermon on materialism. That pretty much breaks my cardinal rule on discussing titheing in sermons and the whole guilt-tripping bit and even moreso with the heavy lines about materialism... and encourages me to take myself to a pew elsewhere as if everything else hadn't.

I guess I should have refrained from using the name of the church... but then again, I want you to be warned if you decide that you should go yourself. For a different perspective, Wilson already has a review and I'm suspecting that some of the others with whom I went will as well... sooner or later.

Incidentally, here's the church doctrinal statement (I dug it out of the webpage, the actual provided link is broken.) Would you expect such a train wreck from such an innocent statement?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:20 AM

August 17, 2003

Get the Macs Out!

As a general note of random curiousity... it would appear that Suzie is in charge of SWARM. [sarcasm]There's a real shock...[/sarcasm]

In other news, it would appear that the lemmings are upset about PCs making inroads in the schools and edging out those pesky Macs. I would like to point out to all of my Mac enthusiasts that while a Mac may be a superior machine for ease-of-use, it is also more expensive and in posession of a virtually nonexistant market share which is fading fast. If I'm going to use a PC at home and a PC at work, why do I want to use a Mac in high school? That would be retarded.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:05 AM

June 11, 2003

Software Piracy is Ethical?

Well, summer is nice. Not that I really do any more, but I'm working and getting payed for it. Beyond that, I'm also only taking one class and thusly doing far less homework. This frees up more time for me to go get on Gaia and discuss complex topics with simple minds and berate them duly.

Here's a sample conversation I had with an idiot to encourage you to come help me in the good fight. The italicized was written by an idiot with the user name of Kwai. The grey is my response.

I think the question arises, is it stealing? No, it's sharing. It is no more a crime to share my $500 software than it is to share my $5 comic books.

Someone's trying to salve his conscience

The net is just a large sharing place for information and that is what software is. This is not about piracy it is about companys adapting to a flux in supply and demand. There is more supply of software because more people are sharing it and thus we want less. Come on look at how inefficient we are; we buy a book, we read it, and what do we do? We leave it to gather dust. So we put it to good use, give it to the public library, they know how to use a little bit of information quicker. Is my library a criminal for sharing? How different is the net from a library? Not much! Well, if sharing software is a crime, they it's time to close down the public library cause they share software, movies, music and books. And I don't see why these things can't be all on the net, free to distribute and use by everyone.

Umm... about that. There's this fundamental difference involved with books to the effect that everyone can't be using a book at once. Further, if a library buys a book and 20 people read it, the author still gets compensation and there is a greater likelihood that one of those readers will either buy the book at a later date or buy a book by that same author. The equivalent of what you're talking about would be running photo-copies of a book for 1,000 people.

You display a fundamental ignorance in the realm of economics bordering on criminal stupidity. It needs to be realized that your POS comic books can be cranked out at a dime a dozen. Software requires years of development with hundreds of developers. The enormous overhead is substantially more than the money required to write a comic book plot, draw it and ink it. Thus, software updates are released annually or every other year while comic books abound by the dozens and most shitty authors can manage to do numerous ones.

Controling the use of any of these forms of human ideas on the net for the sake of greed of some company, is in it's essence Nazi reminicent.

Oh no, he just brought out the Nazis. *throws up hands in defeat*

I hate you Kwai. I hate the fact that you are a moron and you don't know it. And I hate the fact that I am irresistably compelled to respond to your idiocy with logic. Mostly, I hate the fact that this will do nothing to dispel your idiocy and you will continue on in your foolish ways.

So there you have it. The actual thread is here, if you want to read the even higher-quality repartee that followed.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:24 AM

February 14, 2003

On Satire and the Dangers Thereof

The Cynic Will Exact Vengeance Upon: People Who Can't Take Jokes

For those of you familiar with the LU Forums, you will note that there is a restricted HNRS2111: Contemporary Political Issues forum. In there, those of us in that particular class discuss a given political issue, changing by week, in conjection with the class and the book. Issues are usually good for discussion: ranging from direct democracy vs. republic to gun control to economic idealogy. It's a lot of fun for those who like politics and the forum has been of particular amusement to me.

I am a lover of satire in addition to being a cynic and have been known to employ it from time to time. At the beginning of the class, a couple of friends and I took up the idea that an armed coup could take over the US and make conditions so bad that a reform would return to a Constitutional government, ridden of the demons of apathy. The plan gets rather in-depth and in subsequent weeks it was expanded to include the topics we covered such as what to do with gun control and the specific working of the government's economy. The satire got old and worn-out, and so this week I saw the oppurtunity to develop a new parody. It went something like this:

"Being as that the Shadow Council more or less runs itself these days, I have decided that I will be pursuing other things in addition, so that I don't get slow or dull on my rhetoric.

The idea of returning to the halcyon days of yore when men ruled the land as they should and women held their tongues has always appealed to me. Recently, I have begun to explore the feasibility of making such a change and it occurred to me that even should I control the government in an autocracy, I would need something more. Just because women are relegated to their proper state as second-class citizens doesn't mean that they won't continue to stir up dissension and create problems for my regime.

And then, as is with all problems, the solution came to me. The control of all forms of media would be my tool. Primarily, the constant barrage of the news media and entertainment would reinforce my message of truth. Feminist literature and the like would be banned and burned. As a cautionary measure, women would be forbidden to read, but this would take some time to implement. In the meanwhile the state-run media would pervade all of life. I honestly don't think it would take much to return peoples' minds to the proper frame of reference with the use of that media...."

And then things got a little nuts. One person in particular took things so badly that she dragged her entire floor into it. And there was much talk of lynching me and the mob was very angsty. And so now, it would appear that my satire is going to get me in trouble... oh joy. When you read satire, or something that appears to be satire... check with the author before you kill him. Next time I'm just making a modest proposal...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:54 AM