Tuesday, February 24, 2015
For the past few weeks the media have been abuzz with the revelations that Brian Williams of NBC News embellished some of his news stories regarding Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. Facing the allegations of lying he did the manly thing and accepted responsibility for what he had done, apologized to his listeners and stepped down from his position as news anchor until there was a full investigation. This is what would be expected from a decent professional journalist.
Shortly after these revelations it was discovered that Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly was accused of the same thing by a number of veterans groups. Instead of acting as a professional journalist, as Williams did, O'Reilly acted as a typical Fox News employee. He attacked the veterans accusing him of the misdeeds, in a vitriol filled tirade of name calling and threats. Unlike NBC news, which immediately launched an investigation into the accusations against Williams, Fox News offered wholehearted support for O"Reilly.
This incident involving O'Reilly only strengthens the negative views of Fox News as an organization dedicated to right wings agenda of news fabrication and outright lies. If Fox allows O'Reilly to get out of this unscathed it loses any credibility that it may have had.
Friday, February 13, 2015
It seems as though the closer we get to Valentine's Day the more commercials we see for online dating websites. When I was younger there were only a couple of legitimate sites around, Yahoo Personals and Match.Com. I haven't seen anything about the Yahoo site in years and am not sure if it still exists. It seems like the 2 biggies that are still around are Match.com and Eharmony. Match.Com TV commercials are actually well done and somewhat entertaining, while those of Eharmony are rather annoying because of the snake oil salesman like founder, who appears in each and every one of the ads. Eharmoney is actually a Christian website in disguise that, after a number of lawsuits, decided to offer an affiliate site for gay people. I would imagine that both of these sites are legitimate upfront dating sites conducted in a very businesslike manner. They don't pretend to be anything other than what they actually are.
The commercials that really amuse and annoy me are the ones for Christian Mingle. It doesn't bother me at all that there are sites that appeal to those daters who are looking for someone of the same religion or ethnicity. Those sites make it clear that they are for Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Asian singles. They basically tell you that if you join their site you will have a number of people of the same religion or ethnicity to chose from. As in all sites you pay a fee and look for someone whose interests match yours. Not so with Christian Mingle! A computer doesn't find your match. The site doesn't find your match. God finds your match!
This to me is not only unethical but fraudulent. Maybe it is just a humorous way to attract possible members, but there are, I am sure, many devout, but naive and ignorant Christians out there who actually believe God will be making the matches. This is just another example of a religion fleecing it's followers. If indeed the owners and staff of this site firmly believe that God is making the choices, then the services should be free, since, as far as I know God doesn't charge for his services! I wonder if the relationship doesn't work out who gets the blame. God?
I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day with their loved ones, regardless of who made the match!
Thursday, February 12, 2015
One of the painful aspects of returning to the US, in particular New York State, was having to obtain auto insurance and having to start the process of getting a NYS driver's license all over again. I have been driving for 50 years, both in New York and Massachusetts. Kevin has been driving for 1 year here and 12 years in Malaysia. When we first arrived back here I searched around for car insurance to cover the both of us. We settled on Geico, as it was the cheapest and offered the best policy. The other nationally known companies, either were way too expensive or refused to even talk to me, as I had lived in Malaysia.
With the Geico policy we were given a generous amount of time to obtain our New York driver's licenses and to update our policy. In November we took the required 5 hour pre-licensing course and made our appointments to take our road tests. The closest tests were 3 months away in January. The date finally came and went with both of us passing our road test. The next thing to do, as a good customer was to notify the insurance company, by updating our information on their website. Immediately when I entered the new driver license numbers for Kevin and myself the premium jumped to over $400 a year!
I contacted the company asking why there was such a big jump in the premium. They informed me that Kevin was classified as an inexperienced driver since he has never had a NYS license. I explained that he has had a Malaysian license for over 12 years and driving in Malaysia takes a lot more skill than driving in the US. They explained that previous driving experience in Europe, South America, Europe, Asia, and North America, except for Canada, is not recognized as driving experience. How arrogant of them!
They did inform me that "I" could research their main website, not "them". So now I am in the process of the painstaking task of looking for car insurance quotes again. I don't understand how when Kevin was driving with a Malaysian license he got a lower rate than being a good customer and resident driving with a New York license. I guess it's just another example how our insurance companies, whether they be auto or health insurance companies love to put the screws to us!
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
In the past few days the media has been abuzz with the Brian Williams story of his lying about an incident in the Iraq war and during his coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Some people are calling for his immediate resignation, while others are willing to forgive and forget. Williams apparently has a strong following of fans who will not abandon him. He has appeared on his news program and apologized for his deeds, while also taking a leave of absence from the show, while the incidents are being investigated.
Two incidents are causing all of the furor over his honesty and reliability in reporting the news. One incident involved his reporting of a story during the Iraq war, where he said he was aboard an aircraft that took enemy fire. He has referred to this a number of times over the years, but apparently no one on that aircraft remembers it as Williams does! He really didn't give a false impression about the war or the courage and bravery of the service men and women who fought the war. At most I could say he was guilty of a bit of self aggrandizement. The second incident was in regards to a report he made during Hurricane Katrina, where he said he was able to see bodies floating in the streets of the French Quarter. The truth of the matter was that the flood waters in this location never reached a height where bodies could float, even though this was happening in other areas of the city. Here he was guilty of a little poetic license to emphasize the extent of the tragedy. It didn't minimize or trivialize the depth of suffering of the residents of New Orleans.
I really don't think a great deal of damage was inflicted upon the American news viewing public. If there was any damage done, it was to Brian Williams' career and reputation. Instead of reporting the news for the past couple of weeks he has become the subject of the news. He has been humbled and embarrassed by having to apologize on his news program as well as taking a leave of absence. To me this is one person from a network news program who made a couple of mistakes, as a result of being a bit too eager or trying to inflate his own importance. On the other hand if you take the entire staff of Fox News, it is a horse of a different color. Fox News consistently lies, embellishes stories or twists the context of news stories to further their extreme conservative agenda, which is to destroy President Obama. They have lied and given half truths to fan the flames of violence, hatred and racism in order to divide the country. Yet they never apologize, as they don't admit any wrong doing.
If Brian Williams if forced off the air, then fair play would be for the entire Fox News team to be taken off the air too. All news programs have embellished the truth on many occasions, I am sure, and it will continue to do so, hopefully rarely though. With Fox News dishonesty in reporting is the entire crux of the show. In my opinion Brian Williams is paying for his mistakes and hopefully he has learned his lesson.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Well in less than 3 weeks another major snowstorm is hitting the Northeast with heavy snow, strong winds and bitter cold temperatures. These storms seem to be hitting here in the Rochester area on Sunday afternoons and strengthening until they die out late on Monday. With the last snowstorm, Linus, we received about 2 feet of blowing and drifting snow. This was nothing compared to what my friends in Boston were greeted with.
Winter storm Marcus started here in western New York as a mixture of rain and sleet, but has just turned to all snow. According to the National Weather Service we should receive between 8 and 12 inches of snow, before it is all over late on Monday evening. This should make for an interesting commute for all of those who work or have to drive to school.
There are many updates on this and previous snowstorms on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and without exception the comments read about how sick everyone is of winter. I am originally from Watertown, NY, probably the snow capital of the US, and am quite used to snow and bitter cold. I also lived through many storms and blizzards while working in Boston. However, about 8 years ago I moved to Penang, Malaysia, an island off the west coast of Malaysia, where I experienced constant heat and humidity, 24/7. The coolest it ever got was about 80 degrees. I realized that in Malaysia when it became hotter, there were just so many clothes I could take off without being arrested!
With every day being oppressive I found my energy was constantly drained from my body.
Being back in New York State, with the heavy, blowing snow and bitter cold temperatures, I realized how much I really missed this climate. I missed staying in bed under my down blankets and comforters. I missed having hot chocolate after plowing the driveway or a hot toddy when it was bitterly cold. Now that we have a fireplace it's even more comforting than ever to get warm.
Some people love the heat and humidity of tropical beaches and other paradises, but for me they're only for short vacations. I'll take cold and snow anytime!
Saturday, February 7, 2015
How often have you seen ads on the internet telling you that you can make fast money online by doing surveys or other menial tasks? How often have you seen testimonials from seemingly average people like you an me who say they can earn $200, $300 or more a week just taking surveys for a few hours a week? There are probably thousands of sites offering the opportunities for each and everyone of us to make a small fortune.
Well out of a combination of curiosity and boredom I started to do a little research on ways to make money online. There seems to be quite a number of legitimate sites where you can make money online by offering a service, writing articles or utilizing a skill you may have. There are many medical transcription jobs or translation jobs available, where a modest amount of money can be made. These jobs, however, require a certain amount of experience and certification. There are also many sites that offer training in various types of certification for medical transcription and similar jobs.
The vast majority of online opportunities involve taking surveys. I looked into a number of these survey sites and found they were basically the same, with a few exceptions. Some of the sites required the use of a credit card or an investment upfront before you can take a survey. I did some quick research involving a few of these sites, eliminating those that required a credit card or investment, other than time. I settled on 3 sites, where I joined the site and actually took surveys and participated in some of the so called money making activities.
I found that there was no shortage of surveys on each of the 3 sites, but the problem was qualifying for the surveys. I found that in the vast majority of the surveys I did not qualify, presumably because of my age and retired status. Sometimes I would qualify, then be kicked out half way or more through the survey. Some of the surveys required a telephone number before you can qualify. I tried this on one survey, but quickly stopped doing this after receiving a number of unwanted calls trying to sell me anything and everything. In an average hour attempting to take surveys, I found that I probably actually qualified and finished 2 surveys. Most surveys took 20 or 30 minutes. The 20 minutes surveys paid about $ .38 and the 30 minutes ones paid may $ .50. Those surveys that paid $1.00 to $2.00 required an invest of much more than the money you would make, but entered you into a sweepstakes.. You can also earn $ .02 for reading every 2 emails sent to your inbox or $ .001 for watching a 5 second ad. I spent about 3 hours each day for 5 days on these activities. For the work on all 3 sites I earned a whopping $39.58! I would feel safe to say that if you wanted to earn $200 to $300 dollars a week you would have to spend at least 100 hours a week filling out surveys!
I know these adds for "getting rich quick" seem enticing, but they definitely are too good to be true. Even though starting and maintaining a blog will not make me or most people rich, it is much more rewarding and fulfilling than taking surveys for hours and hours on end. So I have decided to continue writing my blog and writing about what interests or effects me.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
It has been over a month since anything has been posted to this blog and it isn't because of laziness. I have been thinking a lot about what to do with this blog. When I first began writing Steveso Thinks about 3 years ago, while living in Malaysia, I wanted to share my views and opinions of some political and social issues back in the US. I also wanted to make some money. I initially worked many hours in trying to promote my blog in order to gain readers, who in turn would help generate money by clicking on some of the ads. I would spend hours and hours trying to increase the number of hits to my blog, but to little or no avail. I originally used AdSense to monetize my blog, but for some reason my account was cancelled and once Google does that there is no getting it back. I have placed affiliate ads and Infolinks on my site in hopes of garnering a little cash. Since November of 2011 I have made $22! That is an average of 1cent a day! I will discuss this situation later in the blog.
When I moved back to the US I planned on spending more time posting to my blog as I would have more time to write, once I got settled in. The whole process of Kevin applying for his green card and finally getting it, took over 6 months. What I didn't expect was that I also had to start over establishing myself as a resident of New York State and the US. I had to apply for a learner's permit, take a driving course and take the road test all over again, just as I had never existed. I also had to deal with the sticker shock of paying for health insurance and paying outrageous taxes. The cost of living in my new area of residence is quite low, but the taxes are sky high. Finally all of the nitty gritty paperwork and procedures are over and I can look ahead to the future - I think.
In the time I had been living outside of the US things had changed. The US I had lived in was becoming polarized, socially and politically, but people still acted civilized and polite. Even Fox News was not as venomous, as it is now. The economy was in the toilet and we were involved in 2 unnecessary and unjust wars orchestrated by Bush and Cheney. The middle class, was alive, but just barely hanging on. People disagreed with each other, but remained friends. Things have changed. A Black Democrat was elected President and the Republican party caved in to far right Christian extremists of the Tea Party movement. Moving back to the US I am saddened and amazed at the level of hatred, bigotry and racism that now pervades American society. I am amazed that politicians, public figures and entertainers can call for the assassination of the President of the United States, and nothing happens to them. I am amazed that nothing has happened to Obama in this kind of climate. I am also dismayed and surprised that the FCC has allowed Fox News to deliberately fabricate and change the context of news to smear the President and even his wife and children. I am angered that Fox has fanned the flames of hatred and racism and that they are proud of it. What is really sad is the number of poor, uneducated people who believe the sinister propaganda spewing from this network! During the most recent elections these people were led to vote for the very candidates who would end up legislating against their best interests.
In the past few weeks I have been debating rather it is worth the time and trouble to maintain this blog and continue to voice my opinions. I used to allow anonymous comments here, but disallowed them after receiving quite a few incoherent and racist tirades and even a couple of threats of physical violence. Today I have edited the preferences of this blog to allow comments from people who have Google accounts. If I get rants or threats I will simply delete them. I may not answer them as this is really my blog and my opinions.
In the next few weeks I will decide which direction to take. I really want to make money and I really want to use my brain. I have had many experiences during my lifetime and that makes me an expert in life. I'll keep thinking and keep searching for the right niche for me. I would appreciate any comments, ideas or feedback anyone may have . And thanks to those who actually took the time to read my rambling thoughts.