acroyear: (number 2 judge)
I just fired the following off to the North Carolina DoJ:
There is a scam originating from this phone number. You are called (in this case, my wife was but they were asking for me) and informed you have been sued and must call this number 704-464-1068 (a Charlotte number, hence my reporting it to North Carolina). When you call, you are told about some credit card debt, usually a negligible amount (in this case, about $668) and that they have been trying to reach you for years (in this case, since 2009 going to 2011).

They may have some personal information on you but in my case it was almost 20 years out of date.

They also claim the client* is Wachovia, but Wachovia has been Wells Fargo for several years now**.

The main part of the scam is that they are willing to settle 'pennies on the dollar' (typical scam catch phrase) provided you give them your financial data. I of course did not. If I was really being sued, the settlement would still go through a proper collections agency that's BBB certified or directly through the bank itself.

After failing enough 'sniff tests', I googled and found others harassed by the same operation: http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-704-464-0168/1 . At no point did I give them any new personal information other than the city I live in.  As I did not lose any money, I have no need of 'resolution' - I just think this likely illegal operation should be stopped.
Subsequent googling finds they may be associated with an Atlanta company, "Velocity Payment Solutions".

* in spite of being a lawsuit, they did not use the word Plaintiff

** most of their credit card accounts were sold off to Chase or BoA in order to make the deal get past the FTC and SEC.

The other 'sniff test' failure that I caught was that, in trying to figure out if this was a case of identity theft, I kept trying to pry out of them the date the account was allegedly created. They couldn't give me that. Thing is, that's trivially found because all of that type of data (company, start, end, credit, and debt) is on every credit report around, which would include up to date addresses (especially for someone who has owned a home and refi'ed several times in the last decade). If Wachovia really wanted to find me, it would have been trivial to do so, and if I had a debt of this age and nature (granted, peanuts to my current income), I sure as hell wouldn't have the credit rating to get the refi rates I got).
acroyear: (number 2 judge)
There's the big question of why did Roberts become the swing.  More importantly (to those reading in detail) why did he change his mind so late in the process (like his namesake did in '37).

My belief: Roberts didn't do it to "protect the supreme court".  He did it to save Scalia.  He did it to protect the Wickard wide-reading of the Commerce Clause that had proven so useful for other conservative decisions like the federal ban on medical marijuana (what should be a 'states rights' issue) and the federal ban on assisted suicide (ditto).

Scalia's dissent, which if you read it right was originally meant to be the decision, as it mentions Ginsberg's "dissent" (that wasn't, it became a concurrence) several times, matched with a recent document he wrote recently basically saying that SCOTUS overreached in Wickard and that the wide reading of Commerce (which he himself used in his decisions on those two cases) was wrong.  They (Scalia, Alito, Thomas) were going to restore limits on the Commerce Clause solely to get rid of the health care law.

Roberts wouldn't let them do it.

He must have a reason. There is (and it will likely take me days to find it) an upcoming case where a Wickard-style wide-reading of the Commerce Clause is going to be the critical decider, and it must be one that is bigger than somethign as simple as charging 4 million people $500 a year for opting out of insurance.  He wasn't saving SCOTUS from being seen as partisan (far too late for that).  He is saving the Commerce Clause itself for more important conservative things ahead, real business issues rather than a simple social issue (one that fiscal conservatives actually like as they're the ones that came up with it 16 years ago).
acroyear: (bite me)
As I thought...Virginia HOT Lanes:
How will I pay the tolls?
The HOT lanes will be fully electronic toll lanes. Customers will pay tolls with E-ZPass - eliminating the need to stop or slow down for traditional toll booths.
Virginia HOT Lanes:
Will carpoolers be required to have an E-ZPass?
Carpoolers (HOV-3+) will have free access to HOT lanes. In order to keep violators out of the lanes it is anticipated that carpoolers will be required to carry some type of transponder or other technology that identifies them as HOV-3 for free access to the HOT lanes. This device will have to be compatible with E-ZPass and meet all applicable state and federal requirements.

Detailed plans and processes for obtaining any required transponder will be communicated to all users of the HOT lanes prior to the lanes opening.
So, either the carpooler tag will be free, OR the carpooler tag effectively becomes the minimum price tag.

There is NOTHING that can stop them from issuing the carpool tag to cars that eventually will drive those lanes without 3 in the vehicle.  There is, if no human is looking at it, no way to enforce it.  There is nothing a cop on the side of the road can do to know whether or not a car with less than 3 in it paid to get in or not, without random stopping, and the random stops will, of course, stop traffic dead AND DEFEAT THE WHOLE "FREE-FLOWING PURPOSE".

This is an UTTER FAILURE of reasonable thinking.  It assumes that people behave the same way every day, and that is not the case.  Some days they might have carpoolers/slugs, other days they won't, but there is nothing to enforce them to change tags between regular and hov, meaning they'll pay when they shouldn't or dodge it when they could and EVERYBODY is going to bid for the Carpool tags.  If the carpool tags have an expensive price tag, well that either is just a massive scale pay-in-advance for use of the lanes (so what's the damn point?) and further enforces the idea that they're just "Lexus lanes".  If the carpool tags are free, then anybody with a brain will get one and use it even if they don't and there's NOTHING THE LAW CAN DO TO STOP IT because the design of this is inherently flawed.

HOV is a wonderful, but ultimately flawed idea.  It is premised on the idea of honesty (practically non-existent in a commuter) because enforcement ultimately causes traffic to stop (ask anybody on 95 or Dulles Toll Road in the morning) and so is usually very inconsistent.  In evening commutes in the winter time when it is dark before 530, HOV enforcement becomes utterly impossible, so for lanes where enforcement is meant to be 24-7 (50 in MD?), it is impossible to enforce; cops will only catch violators 1) when they care to (and at 1130 at night aren't there more important things to do?) or 2) when there's another reason for stopping the vehicle (in which case, the HOV violation is often dropped because of the more important issue).

This design requires the honest person to honestly switch his tags (assuming (s)he gets both) between paying and riding for free.  It also requires that one switch the tags in such a way so that the detector doesn't pick up the wrong one lest they pay when they shouldn't (or dodge when they shouldn't).  Knowledge of HOV violation rates (just drive inbound 66 in the morning) shows that dishonesty is rampant in the morning commuter.  If you really think drivers won't use that loophole to avoid paying, you're just being stupid.

Nothing in these FAQs actually addresses these questions of enforcement.  They can't and never will, because the HOT design itself is inherently flawed.
acroyear: (makes sense)
Respectful Insolence: "Green Our Vaccines": Serendipity and schadenfreude as antivaccinationists go to war:
Re: "Green Vaccines"

One of the things that the "Greens" are in favor of is biological diversity and protecting endangered species. This dovetails nicely with the "Green Vaccine" movement, since it is clear to me that they (the "Vaccine Greens") are simply trying to prevent the loss of valuable biological diversity.

Not too long ago, in 1977, one viral species (Variola or "smallpox") was made nearly extinct. It now no longer exists in its natural habitat, being reduced to a few specimens kept in captivity. This near-extinction was due solely to human activity, in the form of vaccines.

More recently, another virus (poliovirus) was brought to the brink of extinction before it was saved by the valiant efforts of a combined team of anti-vaccinationists and religious wack-jobs. Now, it is thriving again in Nigeria, Namibia and Yemen and is expected to make a complete recovery.

The virus that causes measles was never listed as endangered, although it had largely disappeared from its habitat in the US, UK and Europe, suggesting that governments in those regions were actively conspiring to bring about its extinction. Fortunately, by the tireless efforts of anti-vaccinationists and shameless medical opportunists, it has been re-introduced into large areas of its former range and is expected to thrive there.

So you see, the "Vaccine Greens" are just doing their part to prevent human-caused species loss and to maintain global biodiversity.

-- Prometheus
acroyear: (smiledon)
This site has all the answers...
acroyear: (fof good book)
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008) - Movie Details - Yahoo! Movies:
Though Ben Stein may be best known as the droning teacher in FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF or for hosting an eponymous game show, he displays his own intellectual prowess in this documentary. EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED finds Stein investigating the snubbing of scientists and teachers who teach the theory of intelligent design. Stein, a former presidential speech writer, goes toe to toe with Darwin's biggest fans, including THE GOD DELUSION author Richard Dawkins, in an effort to expose the widespread prejudice against those who believe in God's role in creation.
Last I checked, ID is supposed to be "science". We're not supposed to know who the designer is ('cause if we admitted we thought it was God, it would therefore become creationism, thus religion, thus kicked out of public schools in accordance with the Edwards case), right?

So even if it succeeds in getting public sympathy for "the cause", it may backfire to create a thousand Dovers, because every Judge will know up front and be forced to acknowledge that which Judge Jones discovered after six weeks of creationists lies and missteps.

Still, it'll save a lot of time this way, because with the film and its marketing as evidence, combined with the Dover decision (not binding precedent, but still influential and admissable), more courts can just throw the ID program out of their counties on summary judgements rather than full trials.
acroyear: (makes sense)
James Randi Educational Foundation - SWIFT January 4, 2008:
The James Randi Educational Foundation Million-Dollar Challenge will be discontinued 24 months from this coming March 6th, and those prize funds will then be available to generally add to our flexibility. This move will free us to do many more projects, which will be announced at that time.

This means that all those wishing to be claimants are required to get their applications in before the deadline, properly filled out and notarized as described in the published rules.

Now, we’re sure that there will be those who will offer all kinds of objections to this decision – though they could have simply applied and won the prize. There will be accusations that the JREF is concerned about the safety of the prize money – which was never any sort of concern, I can assure you – and there will be more claims that the money was never there in the first place. I can see the professionals out there sighing in relief that they no longer have to answer questions about why they won’t take the prize, and they’ll just wait out the remaining period that the prize is available. All that’s to be expected.

Ten years is long enough to wait. The hundreds of poorly-constructed applications, and the endless hours of phone, e-mail, and in-person discussions we’ve had to suffer through, will be things of the past, for us at the JREF.

Those who believe they have mystic powers now have two full years to apply… Let’s see what happens.
*sigh*, oh well. One was hoping they'd have had a winner with the girl with x-ray eyes, but no...
acroyear: (don't go there)
evidence either in the specific individual (as you'll see), and evidence in the general. Being "religious" is not and should never e a magical panacea that suddenly allows one to either declare themselves nor be universally interpreted as being more moral than one who does not practice or believe.

We've had centuries of power abuse by the Catholics, scores of religious civil wars and strife throughout the planet (often among "Christians"), decades of revelations of violence, sex abuse, corruption, and hypocrisies among religious leaders and the political leaders who are supported by them, lies upon lies upon lies in the name of power or money, yet STILL the general populace and the courts (oh, especially the courts) put professed religious belief ahead of any actual evidence of (a)morality when making decisions that affect children's lives.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: New Ruling on Religion and Custody:
I've got a friend in New York who just went through this and I'm gathering all the legal documents to publicize that case. The outcome was beyond outrageous. The mother, who had full custody during the divorce and custody fight, lost custody because the father would make the child attend church while the mother would not.

This despite the fact that the father had multiple drunk driving arrests and even admitted under oath that he still drove with the child in the car after drinking. This also despite the fact that he had a history of violence, enough to warrant a personal protection order granted to the mother. But the judge felt that raising the child in a "Christian" environment trumped all of that.
Mitt Romney recently did a speech that absolutely disgusted me and pretty much anyone who believes that the Constitution was extremely specific in declaring that no religious test should be required for office.  In order to diffuse all the negativity he was (and still is) receiving over his Mormonism, he openly declared all atheists and agnostics to be the real enemies in order to win back support - the only way for "Christians" to stop hating (well, postpone it, really) other "Christians" is to declare that all "non-Christians" are the enemy.  And if you can't get away with openly declaring yourself anti-semitic or anti-islam (which they often are), you simply go for the one target that isn't "politically correct" and has no extended history of defending their rights.

Romney declared a new war of hate and that the media praised him for it, and that disgusts me.

Note: I'm not saying that Huckabee's stunt last week, where he said "I won't run this anti-Romney ad" loudly and publicly so that the media would run it for him and get his message out while his hands stay clean, was any better - it was simply more of the same hypocrisy and it strikes me as really odd that the media so lapped it up that they don't realize just how badly they are being abused and manipulated.

This pretty much sums it up for me...

*sigh*

By the way, Ron Paul is *hardly* any better - he doesn't support or accept evolution, is anti-immigrant and isolationist, and in the name of "freedom" would allow quack "medicine" to advertise and promote itself with impunity, and that's just the crap I can confirm...

Maybe later, I'll write up why none of the Democratic Party candidates are any better...
acroyear: (grumblecat)
Anybody who is exempting their kids from vaccines because of "religious" reasons (when they're not "christian scientists") or thinks it might give their kids autism is completely UNinformed.

Oh, I am furious with the Today Show today for giving some ranting mother with no proof at all from any doctor or scientist the last word that she thinks her kids got "sick" from vaccines with out a counter-point.  Yet another case of bad science reporting where actually presenting the evidence that there is NO documentable connection between vaccines and child development problems will take so much time that the news would rather just leave it on the sensationalism and let FACTS fall by the wayside.  Not the least when she let slip on the air that one of the conditions is genetic, meaning there is nothing in the world that could have "given" it to the kid, not least a shot with dead measle bugs in it.

Many childhood diseases, often ones that are genetic, show symptoms around age 4-6.  Most children get the bulk of their final vaccinations (if not done as infants) around age 4-6.  This is called coincidence, not causality.

Really, TodayShow, you just made things a whole lot worse for doctors out there.
acroyear: (smiledon2)
Infamous atheist and biologist PZ Meyers was filmed for what he was told by a producer for Rampant Films was to be an open, objective documentary on the ID vs science debate.  Well, there was the BIG lie.  He's actually going to be featured and effectively targetted in a documentary with fictional add-ons called "Expelled" which is a pro-ID propaganda work trying to paint the same stupid picture of this big bad scientist conspiracy, a "darwinist cult", striving to kick religion out of schools and blacklist religious scientists.

In short, by lying to him about the actual theme and intent of the work, they made him, along with Richard Dawkins and Eugenie Scott, stooges for their "message".

I'm not saying, say, that Moore's tactics are any better, but it does go to show that as much as the opposition will bitch about his approach, it won't stop them from using it.

In fact, their own publicity is full of lies.  It says this film "confronts" scientists, yet as PZ describes, this was anything but a confrontation.  It was an open, civil, and generally emotionless discussion with no hint to PZ that it was being directed to produce quote-mine-able material.  PZ and likely Dawkins would have welcomed a confrontational stance, but that's not what happened.

The film's supposed to be out in February.  I don't intend to actually see it, but I do intent to bittorrent it and pass it around so everybody can see it without giving those "lying-for-Jesus-again" bastards a dime.  Why bother watching?  It'll just be (if the trailer was anything close to the final product) a huge pack of lies, unsupported assertions, and distorted quote-mining of the counter-claims.

BTW, it's already been reported that most pro-science and anti-ID comments on the movie site's official blog are being regularly deleted.  Par for the course for those assholes.

On the bright side, it moves PZ to being within 2 degrees of Kevin Bacon...
acroyear: (makes sense)
Rockstars' Ramblings: Doggerel Index & Suggestions:
Since it seems the English language is, as Matt the Pooflinger would say, a target rich environment, the number of Doggerel entries has been increasing a lot lately. I imagine reading a few Time Cube-esque things added to my motivation as well.

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