aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, November 26, 2007
Email me form not working. (LATER: fixed.)
I just found that the “email me” form on this site is not working! I will try to fix it tomorrow. In the meantime, if you are trying to email me please use joe AT atypicaljoe DOT com. Sorry for the inconvenience.
While on the topic, I am aware of some of the technical challenges this site presents to visitors and I am about to do something about it. I have contracted with E. Webscapes to tweak my design, optimize the engineering, upgrade the blog software and move back to my old host, ICDSoft.
So help is on the horizon! I’ll keep you posted as we progress.
LATER: The form is back!
Newegg.com Rebate scam!
UPDATE: Newegg has issued the rebate and sent it via UPS. I will have received it within the 10 business days I stipulated. Further, they have offered $30 towards my next order. Now I have to tell the BBB how satisfied I am. I will wait to get the rebate and verification of the $30 before responding to the BBB. Newegg has clearly resolved my situation. But they have not changed my conviction that we need some serious rebate regulation!
Today, Cyber Monday of all days, is 6 months to the day after I purchased my 32” flat panel HD display. You may recall how pleased I was that after a $50 mail-in rebate the $500 price even included shipping.
Here’s what the Newegg Rebate Status website says about the rebate I’m still waiting for today:
On Thanksgiving Day, 10 days after my last email enquiry, they finally replied, “We did not receive an original UPC symbol or proof-of-purchase tab with your request.”
Well, of course, they did!
I copied the code and documented the purchase of the extra postage and the larger envelope required to send it in. Color me suspicious, but this rebate abuse is a scheme to scam people out of their money. Why didn’t they contact me when they discovered the UPC code was missing? Why does the website to this very second say that my order is being processed?
I sincerely believe that these rebate abuses cry out for investigative attention and appropriate state and/or federal legislation. At a minimum, companies offering rebates should be required to clearly state who is offering the rebate (manufacturer or retailer?), how to contact the appropriate party, and how long until the rebate will be received. And they should pay a penalty when a rebate is late.
If any such laws are in place now, I have yet to find them!
I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau; I will follow up with the state of Georgia and the Federal Trade Commission. I am confident that I am not the only consumer to have had this experience.
I wonder how many of us are willing to go through all that it takes to recover the rebate? In the extended entry I have copied their letter to me, my complaint to the Better Business Bureau and my last reply to Newegg.
Obama’s straight talk finesse
In last week’s Slate Gabfest (inexplicably, I can’t find it on the Slate site!), or maybe it was in their audio book club review of Obama’s Audacity of Hope, John Dickerson said he’s been noodling around with a piece on how Barack has built his campaign on his willingness to talk honestly and directly with the American people (as the Slate gang agrees he did much better in Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance) but in his campaign he has been much less willing to do so.
Fred Hiatt beats Dickerson to the punch in todays WaPo:
Barack Obama suggests that Hillary Clinton is guilty of triangulating, poll-testing and telling the American people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
Maybe so. But then it’s fair to ask: Is Obama telling the American people anything they don’t want to hear? More specifically, as he campaigns for votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, is he saying anything except what polls suggest Democrats there might want to hear?
His campaign points to Obama’s traveling to Detroit to endorse higher fuel standards for automobiles, his preaching parental responsibility in black churches and his refusing to promise Iowa activists that he will cut the defense budget. He backs driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, not a crowd-pleaser this electoral season.
But to the extent that Obama’s positions have shifted over the past several months, they’ve shifted uncannily to where middle-class Democratic voters happen to be.
I hope Dickerson still does his piece; I found Hiatt’s unpersuasive.
Zero tolerance for motorists’ blood alcohol
On a May night in 2005, Debra Bolton, a lawyer and single mom from the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, was leaving the CafÃƒÂ© Milano in Georgetown after socializing with some friends. She had driven her SUV only a few hundred yards before she was pulled over by D.C. police for driving with the headlights off. She told the officer the parking attendant at CafÃƒÂ© Milano probably had turned off her vehicle’s automatic light feature.
Not mollified, the officer asked Bolton to step out of the car, walk in a straight line, recite the alphabet, stand on one foot, and count to 30. He checked her eyes for suspicious jerkiness and insisted on a breath test for alcohol.
The breath test revealed that Bolton’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.03 percent, a level a 120-pound woman could expect after drinking one glass of wine. It was well below the 0.08 percent limit that marks a driver as legally intoxicated in D.C. It was not low enough for the arresting officer, however. This middle-aged mother of two, who hadn’t drunk to excess, who hadn’t run a red light or run a stop, was arrested, handcuffed, and fingerprinted for an innocent mistake. She sat in a jail cell for hours and was finally released at 4:30 a.m. Bolton spent four court appearances and over $2,000 fighting a $400 ticket. She then spent a month fighting to get her license back after refusing to submit to the 12-week alcohol counseling program.
The arresting officer, inaptly named Dennis Fair, insists: “If you get behind the wheel of a car with any measurable amount of alcohol, you will be dealt with in D.C. We have zero tolerance*....Anything above 0.01, we can arrest.” Fair recognized that nearly everyone in D.C. was unaware of this zero tolerance policy. Still, he told The Washington Post, if “you don’t know about it, then you’re a victim of your own ignorance.”
So is prohibition working?
In 2000 President Clinton signed a federal law aimed at pressuring states to lower their BAC limits from 0.1 percent to 0.08 percent. States that didn’t go along were threatened with the loss of federal highway funds. Karolyn Nunnallee, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), predicted that a nationwide 0.08 percent standard "will save nearly 600 lives every year."
It hasn’t worked out that way. In the July 2007 issue of Contemporary Economic Policy, Sam Houston State University economist Donald Freeman examines the most recent data available and concludes "there’s no evidence that lowering the BAC limits...reduced fatality rates, either in total or in crashes likely to be alcohol related." This is true, he found, both in states that adopted a 0.08 percent BAC standard on their own and in states that did so under federal pressure.
Read on; it turns out that even the founder of MADD believes “the emphasis on .08 laws was not where the emphasis should have been placed. The majority of crashes occur with high blood-alcohol levels, the .15, .18 and .25 drinkers. Lowering the blood-alcohol concentration was not a solution to the alcohol problem.”
* the Zero Tolerance policy was defeated in DC in October 2005.
Simon: Southern pol wears dresses to be popular?
Just a couple of weeks ago, Michelle Bruce was reelected to her second term on the city council there. She’s 46 years old, tall, sturdy and repossesses cars for a living. She wants to attract more industry to Riverdale. Michelle Bruce, frankly, in fact, proudly identifies herself as transgender, which the dictionary defines as appearing as; wishing to be considered as; or having undergone surgery to become a member of the opposite sex. Ms. Bruce finished first in a field of three.
But this week, Georgia Fuller, who finished third, filed a lawsuit, charging election fraud, a phrase usually tied to bribery or stuffing ballot boxes. Georgia Fuller charges that Michelle Bruce misled voters by identifying herself as transgender. She says that Ms. Bruce is merely a man who masquerades as a woman to keep her seat in the Riverdale City Council.
Now, I think this is a moment to note in Southern political history right alongside Bobby Jindal being elected governor of Louisiana. Not so many years ago, a Southern politician running for governor ridiculed his opponent, who’d been in a high school drama club, as an admitted thespian. Now, we have a losing candidate in the Southern city council election who charges that her opponent pretended to be transgender just to be popular, the way candidates used to boast that their great, great grandfather fought with Stonewall Jackson. [...]
Now, if being transgender has become a political asset in some parts of the South, like getting endorsed by Pat Robertson or the NRA, it could have urgent implications for the presidential campaign ahead as both parties try to win votes there. Everyone running for office says I’m the candidate of real change; a transgender candidate can add, and that’s not just talk.