Spin. Wow. I remember Rosie when she was a young…

Spin.

Wow. I remember Rosie when she was a young(er) new VJ on VH1. She was a sub for someone, and one early morning was desparately begging (in a joking way) for folks to write in to pursuade VH1 producers to keep her on the air.

That was about 20 years ago, and in that time, Rosie has grown from VJ to host to a front-and-center advocate for inclusive family values.

It’s shocking how the media has really slammed her in recent days. If you watch the clip from the View, the whole thing really is really between Joy and Elizabeth, and Rosie really tries pretty hard to stay out of the whole thing until the very end. It’s only at that point that she even begins to weigh in, and it’s amazing — that’s the only piece that gets any airplay.

You know, I’ve never liked Garrison Keillor. He i…

You know, I’ve never liked Garrison Keillor. He is the host of this stupid radio show called Prairie Home Companion. It’s on public radio stations across the country, unfortunately — but thankfully, it airs at odd times, like 7pm Sunday morning — so judging from that, I can only deduce that it’s wildly popular. I’m sure you know the show… oh wait, you don’t — ha. Exactly.

Well, nonetheless, your great grandmother and grandfather probably know the show and love it. It’s set up like an old-time 1920s radio show (minus any relevance, humor, or intelligence). In short, it’s perfect for people who fondly remember the 20s (the 1920s, that is), and wish that we had never passed into a modern age.

This past week, Garrison made some really distrubing comments, not only about gays, but about the evolution of the family unit. You can check out the whole article here: Towelroad and Dan Savage’s saucy retort here SLOG (viewer discretion advised).

Shocked? Yeah, why not dash off a quick note to Garrison’s boss, William H. Kling or your local public radio station?

I’ve received a slew of e-mail over the past days,…

I’ve received a slew of e-mail over the past days, asking why I haven’t posted anything about that nasty (looking and sounding) right wing shrew that irresponsibly dropped ‘the other F bomb’ last week. If you can’t decode that: Folks want to know why I haven’t posted anything about Ann Coulter. (Ugh, it sends shivers up my spine to even type her name.) I’ve disliked Ann for a much longer than just this past week. She is a nasty person and an unkind individual. Kind of like the nasty girl in high school that made everyone else feel like crap to hide her own insecurities. Makes you wonder what the hell Annie is so insecure about… Must be a biggie, whatever it is.

On the other hand, good for Ann, she’s made a career out of being a talentless, miserable, loathing, hate monger, and she makes Rush Limbaugh look like a choir boy. Considering that she’s neither rational nor intelligent, it’s admirable that she’s been able to carve out such a career for herself.

Anyhow, instead of a lengthy post, I’m encouraged that the right-wing bloggers are equally as outraged as the left, and so I’ve turned my attention to writing letters. Some fellow over at the right-of-center The American Mind has posted a well composed open letter to the CPAC. Good for him, a toast across the aisle, and a true unpolitical, thank you.

I’ve taken to writing letters, like the one below:

Dear Lee:

I hope this message finds you well. I have for years been a long time fan of Universal Press Syndicate, and I appreciate the family-oriented, responsible content of your columns and comics. I simply can’t imagine a world without Dear Abby or James Dobson. However, as the company that syndicates Ann Coulter, I felt compelled to write regarding Ms. Coulter’s recent and absurd behavior.

I make every effort to understand all sides of every story — and though sometimes Abby is a bit more liberal that I might be, and more often, James is more conservative than I — the perspective that responsible journalists and columnists bring is enlightening, rooted in fact, and while not always objective, put forth with good will to educate, enlighten, and inform the public. Naturally, every columnist has a bias, but I truly believe that as editor, it is your responsibility to ensure that your columnists are not bigots, and most certainly that they do not incite hate.

Ms. Coulter’s recent comments have revealed not a one-time slip of the tongue, but a track record of disparaging comments against gays. Such comments are reprehensible and can be readily equated with sexist, racial, ethnic, and religious slurs. Such language has no place in an enlightened society, and certainly has no place in productive discourse.

I am disturbed that your company, one I have trusted and respected for over 30 years, supports, endorses, and indeed syndicates a hate-fuelled bigot. While I fully support free speech, I can not endorse reckless hate speech.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

OK Folks. Who the HELL is the webmaster at SunTrust Bank? Come on now, fess up. This one is a big old mess.

I’m STUNNED — and though grumpy most of the time, I’m rarely stunned to the degree that I am this moment.

My mortgage is serviced (by no choice of my own, mind you) by SunTrust Bank. Sun Trust has THE WORST web banking system ever. That simple — it’s just the worst system ever. I live in the sun starved Northeast, and the first time I ever heard of SunTrust was about 3 years ago. I received SPAM about my SunTrust account, and that I should click the link to verify my account details. Well, at the time I had no SunTrust account, so the fact that I received it was a dead give away that it was SPAM. But now I do have a SunTrust account, and oddly enough, I continue to get the same SPAM again and again. To me, this would be a BIG RED FLAG for the good ol’ boys and good ol’ girls down at SunTrust to make damn well sure that their good ol’ site is workin’ and pretty freaking secure.

But that’s just me, and I’m just a dumb ol’ Yankee.

About 3 months ago, I received a snail mail letter that SunTrust would be changing their web banking to a “new system” and that once this happened (allegedly on September 18), all Sun Trust customers were to visit the “newly redesigned site” to “reregister”. Strange, but OK.

Well, eagerly with letter in hand, I logged on on September 18 to the exact same clunky, hard to read, disorganized site that I had become familiar with — only to find that the security certificate for the site still hadn’t been fixed. No matter, I went through the motions to create my new “log in”. What a convoluted mess. After about 1/2 hour of entering information, I found that it didn’t work. Every time I clicked on “continue,” I would get a message indicating that my session had expired. Funny, I’ve known mosqiutos to have longer life expectancy than this site. I mean come on!

So today, I figured I’d give it another shot. It’s somewhat gratifying after making your $1200 mortgage payment to see that the $2 reduction in principal after the interest is paid. The only problem is that the site STILL doesn’t work. I’ve assembled a short flash slideshow above that tells the story better than I can. Note the time on the system clock in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

I might note that I’ll bet dollars to donuts that some schmo from SunTrust — especially after seeing this on the blog — will contact me to say that I need to enable “cookies” or clear my cache. Too late — I’ve done both and the site STILL doesn’t work.

So maybe someone from SunTrust might want to tell me: what gives? How about getting this site cleaned up, and servicing your customers before they all wise up and move on to a real bank that actually might be remotely concerned with security. The actor in the commercials might not be the only one saying “lost another one to Ditech!”

I might mention as a footnote, my ‘real’ bank is HSBC (the one that we in Buffalo affectionately refer to as “Hot Sauce, Blue Cheese”) and security there is like Fort Knox compared to SunTrust — everything is bolted under a separate password — and more importantly, the site works AND looks good.

“Can I See Your Credit Card?” The question has …

“Can I See Your Credit Card?”

The question has become more pervasive than the now defunct “paper or plastic?” My reply is the same, whenever quereied to “see” my card: “Why sure, see, here it is.” I then hold up the card, next to my right shoulder, to which the clerk inevitably (and usually in an iritated tone) retorts: “I NEED to check the signature.” To which I then reply “Oh, I understand. You asked to see my card, but you didn’t a.) ask properly, and b.) ask politely.

I’m a firm believer in voting with my dollar — whether it’s paper or plastic. It’s why I’ve begun to make a list of stores where I won’t shop:

Home Depot
Target
Gap
Old Navy

Consistently, the workers at these stores — usually after a curt transaction — blurt out: Can I (or even worse, I need to) see your card.

Well, frankly, no one ever needs to see my card. No great floods or famines, crumbling walls or earthquakes might occur if by chance, someone does not see my card. And honestly, no one really needs to see my card either. Why? Well, the media is rife with scary stories about identity theft, and “stolen” credit card numbers. To that, I say, big deal. Why you again ask? Well, let’s take a look at how credit card transactions were processed 30 years ago, before computer transaction clearing.

Back in the day, the customer would present a credit card for payment. The number of the card was checked in a book that listed the delinquent card accounts, stolen cards, and the like. The booklet was updated once monthly, twice montly during the busy holiday season. After checking the authenticity of the card, it was then placed in an imprinting device, a carbon booklet or triplicate “sales draft” was placed over the card, and the raised plastic number of the card was literally imprinted on the card. Because the technology was not very difficult to replicate, and counterfeit cards were rampant, and could be used for nearly an entire month — before the new verifcation book was printed and distributed. As such, the signature became the only security feature of the card. Most merchant banks required the retailer to “verify the signature” on the back of the card to that presented on the sales draft. If the signature didn’t match perfectly, the retailer was to reject the card, and void the transaction.

The signature verifcation requirement is an anachronistic holdover from that time. For the most part, credit card transactions are now processed electronically, but consumers have grown to equate the signature check with security, and most still expect to have their signature checked. In reality, though, credit transactions are approved (or declined) as well as cleared electronically. Most often, the signed slips wind up in a big disorganized box in the back room of the store where the purchase is made.

So, after the 7 seconds or so it takes the customer to sign, rarely does anyone ever look at that slip again. In rare instances, such as a in the instance of a chargeback, or to trace transactions using a stolen card the origninal sales slip is requested by the merchant bank. In the rare instances when it can the original can be found it is turned over to the merchant bank, though two sources from separate Northeastern regional banks have both independently verified that it is a rare instance when the original sales slip can actually be found. With increasing frequency, signatures are caputred electronically (that is, the customer signs an electronic screen, rather than a piece of paper). In this way, the signature is stored, and no records are stored. Curiously, many retailers still print the entire credit card number on original receipts as well as on the customer copies. I’ve noticed that at stores like JCPenney and the Bon Ton — these charge slips are kept in a small plastic basket next to, or on a shelf under the cash register — I don’t know why all these folks that are identity theft-paranoid, and are scared to death to buy anything over the internet, for fear that some credit card-stealing boogey man is lurking in the cybershadows, seem to be OK with having not only their number but also their signature on a slip of paper, that nearly anyone could walk by and take.

Regardless, the signature requirement has become, in my opinion, a nuissance, and slows down what could be a far more efficient (and fast) checkout experience. So my question: why bother? Why can’t — or why won’t — credit card companies simply let you swipe and go? It’s beginning to happen. On purchases under $20, no signature is required. Great idea. The MasterCard/Visa Pay Pass is a great idea, but the equipment hasn’t yet been widely distributed, and in the five or six times I’ve had the opportunity to use it, the equipment never seems to work.

So, over the past few months, I’ve run a little experiment. I don’t have much fear of identity theft, and I’ve never known it to happen to anyone I know. Not to mention the fact that if my credit card was ever stolen — or even should just turn up missing — I’m only resonsible for the first $50 in purchases after I’ve reported it missing or stolen. So big deal. Is $50 worth losing sleep, buying a paper shredder, and being harassed at the checkout? I don’t think so. It’s also definitely not worth the $60 a year to sign up for credit ‘protection’ services like ChargeGard.

I’ve decided to sign another name when making credit card purchases, I’ve tried: Donald Duck, Mr. Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, a dollar sign, an ‘X’, George W. Bush, and a host of others. Never once has my purchase been declined. An in the two or three instances when the cashier has actually checked the validity of my signature she/he has simply shurgged, and returned the card back to me. So, the next time a cashier bluntly says “I need to see your card,” I can answer with a solid “No, you don’t.”

Micro Parks. Wow. I’m feeling OLD. Last week, …

Micro Parks.

Wow. I’m feeling OLD. Last week, I pick up Artvoice to find that the once-bartender from the Pink from “back in my day” has become an advocate for micro parks in Buffalo! Nice work, Jay.

read all about it on the artvoice site.