Friday, October 17, 2014

Colorado Amendment 67 - How the personshood movement will tell barefaced lies right to your face

I've written about the personhood movement before, here and here (be warned, I am really not very nice about it or some of the people involved). To paraphrase a famous Jedi, "You'll never come across a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." They lie. A lot. Sometimes by omission, sometimes deliberately. It is what they do, it is what they need to do in order to make their position and themselves seem reasonable. Colorado's proposed Amendment 67, on the ballot for this years November elections, is just the latest example of this.

So let me tell you about Amendment 67, which according to the Colorado Secretary of State's website is:
The title as designated and fixed by the Board is as follows:
An amendment to the Colorado constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining "person" and "child" in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings.
The ballot title and submission clause as designated and fixed by the Board is as follows:
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining "person" and "child" in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings?
Although there have been attempts to claim this is not a personhood bill (although some admit that it is indeed a personhood bill) or an attempt to ban abortion, that is exactly what it is. It is just coming through the back door.


In July 2012 Heather Surovik, the face of Amendment 67, tragically lost her unborn baby at 8 months when a drunk driver ran into her car. The driver was charged with vehicular assault but the law in Colorado at the time did not allow for extra charges for the death of the unborn fetus, whom Ms. Surovik had named Brady (hence Amendment 67 also being called "Brady's Amendment"). As a result of public pressure, the Colorado Congress passed H.B. 1154, the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act, in 2013. This added Article 3.5 (Offenses Against Pregnant Women) to Title 18 (Criminal Code) of the Colorado Revised Statutes, effective July 1 2013.

The backers of Amendment 67 say that Article 3.5 doesn't go far enough because it doesn't use the word homicide. And here is where you start to see what the pro-Amendment 67 people are up to.

It doesn't use the word homicide because Article 3 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S. from now on) defines homicide as:
"(1) "Homicide" means the killing of a person by anotherC.R.S. § 18-3-101(1)
 And then defines person as :
(2) "Person", when referring to the victim of a homicide, means a human being who had been born and was alive at the time of the homicidal act. C.R.S. § 18-3-101(2)
So, the death of a fetus can't be homicide because the definition of person in Part 1 (Homicide and Related Offenses) of Article 3 (Offences Against the Person) specifically states that you must have been born and be alive to be a person for the purposes of homicide in the criminal code. So the definition of person under the criminal code must be changed in Colorado in order for an unborn fetus to be considered a person, and for their death to then possibly be considered a homicide.

Hence, Amendment 67.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ALS Association admits 73% of funds don't go to research - or lies, damn lies, and Facebook statistics

I suppose the backlash against the popular Ice Bucket Challenge and its main recipient, the ALS Association, was as predictably inevitable as the tabloid outing of a virulently homophobic Christian preacher or a crassly stupid statement by the celebrity you just described as "A genuinely nice person, despite being rich and famous." That doesn't stop me being disappointed in people falling for it though - especially when the backlash is so jaw droppingly stupid.

Take this article from, which seems to be an Internet home for the intellectually challenged. The headline reads:


A more misleading headline you would struggle to find. The article begins:

We've been duped.
No, you haven't. The article continues:

But wait? Ice Bucket Challenge donations are nearing $100 MILLION. Where is that money going?
According to the ALS Foundation, not towards ALS.

Bullshit. I often wonder how people manage to type English, without being able to read or understand it first.

Then, the articles shocking reveal:

Over 73% of all donations raised are going to fundraising, overhead, executive salaries, and external donations. Less than 27% is actually used for the purpose we donated for.

Wrong again. The really worst part is that the article actually links to the chart that the ALS Association uses to explain how it spent funds in a recent year. Then proceeds to lie and twist it anyway. Got to admire the cheek at least, I suppose. You can find the ALS Associations financial information here. The chart in question is this one:

So, yes, 73% of expenses for the year ending January 31, 2014 were not for research. However, the description of how this 73% was spent is exceptionally dishonest and misleading. Not to mention that the most recent update to the financial information on the ALSA website states the figure spent on research is actually 28%, they originally miscalculated - so these backlash articles can't even get that right. So it isn't less than 27% - it's more than!

Only 7% was spent on administration and only 14% on fundraising - that includes overhead and salaries for everyone working for the Association (it isn't just executives that get paid you know - from what I can tell from looking at their IRS forms, combined executive salary was approximately $1.8 million of approximately $5.8 million spent on salaries and benefits) AND if they didn't spend money on fundraising, they wouldn't have any money to spend at all - it's an operating cost for goodness sake. That's 21% of the Association's expenses. The remaining 51% is dismissed by this silly article as "external donations". Well that sounds appropriately underhand and sketchy right? I bet it went to those dirty immigrants and unwed mothers. Or maybe abortions. Or ISIS. Or maybe ISIS abortions run by immigrants for unwed mothers. Amirite?


It went to fund the other stated purposes of the ALS Association - public and professional education and patient and community services. In other words, it went "towards" ALS. I say "towards" because the money isn't going to the disease, who would write such a stupid phrase?  It is going to efforts to fight it, and to educate people about it, and to help those suffering with it. You know, the purposes of a charity devoted to fighting ALS. These other purposes are explicitly stated on the ALS Association website:

How does The ALS Association use its annual budget?
The ALS Association has posted its audited financial statement online here. On that page you can see a pie chart which breaks down our expenses from this document from the fiscal year ending in January 2014. Please note that our expenses are broken down by two major types of activities as required for not-for-profit voluntary health agencies – Program Activities and Supporting Activities. Below is a brief description of what services and activities are included in each category:
Program Activities
  • Research: Our research entails involves funding for global studies to find the causes of and treatments - and ultimately a cure - for ALS. These activities encompass grants and funding for ALS research and associated costs related to our research program. This program takes a collaborative approach by interacting with scientists around the world and academia, government agencies, and the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Patient and Community Services: Our Care Services program provides compassionate care and support for people living with ALS and their families. Our 38 chapters assist those living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease by offering them access to loan closets, support groups and information about local resources to help them better cope with the demands of this disease. In addition, our Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence deliver the best of multidisciplinary care to individuals with ALS, and our Recognized Treatment Centers serve the medical needs of those living with the disease.
  • Public and Professional Education:  Through public and professional education, The Association educates healthcare professionals, scientific communities and the general public about Lou Gehrig’s Disease and the work we do in assisting those battling ALS. Our Public Policy Department works with national and local legislators as well as government agencies to advance legislative policies that benefit ALS families. Each year, The Association’s Public Policy Department hosts National ALS Advocacy Day and Public Policy Conference, whereby members of the ALS community travel to the nation’s capital to educate Congressional members about ALS and to share their stories about how this disease has impacted their lives with these national legislators.

If the author of the article was interested, even remotely, in getting to the truth of what he or she was writing they could have found this out very easily. I wonder why they didn't bother to mention it? And notice that there are no comments allowed on this article. Wouldn't want people correcting the author now, would we?

But it doesn't end there. Stupid never quits. 

That pie chart shows the figures for the year ending in January 2014 - so it doesn't even include the funds donated because of the Ice Bucket Challenge. To say, or imply, that only 27% of funds raised by the Ice Bucket thing goes to research is a big fat lie. Not even the ALS Association knows exactly how the money raised will be spent yet:

Can you give me a breakdown of how each Ice Bucket donation dollar will be allocated?While research and care services to patients and their families are our top priorities, we cannot provide a breakdown at this time. We appreciate the sense of urgency that exists and are already engaged in discussions on how we’re going to put this money to work in the short term and into the future. Now and in the coming weeks, we will be able to enhance our strategic plan, reformulating and recasting strategies with input from stakeholders, including our donors, our chapters, and most importantly, people living with ALS and their families. We want to move quickly but decisively as our ultimate goal is to use this incredible generosity in a way that has the biggest impact on the disease.
The ALS Association is absolutely committed to transparency and will be communicating regularly with the ALS community, our donors, the media and the public about progress in funding projects and programs to support the cause.

 The money being raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge has not yet been spent - anyone who tells you they know how much of the money has been spent on research is a lying fucking asshat with an agenda.

And what is that agenda?

No moral outrage against current social trends would be complete without throwing religion in, so the author throws in some Christian charity watchdog which claims that you can only be a reliable charity if you give 80% of expenses, or more, to the cause you are recieving donations for. And I am SURE that no religious charity ever broke that rule. But hey, since the ALS Association gets to 79%, who is going to quibble? Right wing religious nuts, that's who. I think we can see the real reason for these silly attacks now, can't we?

Oh, you didn't notice that the standard they cite is a Christian one? That's because they left that bit out, they wrote:

According to the ECFA, a charitable watchdog

No - a religious charitable watchdog. A Christian watchdog with an agenda. That watchdog requires charities to be Christian and have a statement of faith. The ALS Association has funded embryonic stem cell research which is opposed by Christian religious pro-life groups. You do the math.

Congratulations, by quoting or re-posting this article you are serving the religious right's agenda. Bravo.

Anyone who keeps repeating this stupid article, and others like it, without bothering to check facts first should hand in their critical thinking card when they leave please.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Health and Prayer II - Why God still can't lose

I had a reply posted to a blog I wrote some time ago that I didn't feel I could do justice to in just the comments, so here's the full on reply.

The original post was one I made about the myth that prayer heals, and how patently ridiculous such an assertion is in the face of our need for modern evidence based medicine, you can find that here. The comment came here. I'll call the commenter littleinions in reference to the pseudonym they entered there.

The comment is, I think, a perfect example of what I was referring to in the original post - the "God can't lose" concept. That is to say, the seemingly miraculous is attributed to God and he gets all the credit for it, even in the face of the suffering that may have occurred. For example, God gets credit for saving one person in a plane crash and is praised for his miracle, but doesn't take the blame for the 250 other people who died in the same crash. If saving one is to God's credit, what is letting the others die? God can't lose because the majority of believers will then say they weren't meant to be saved, didn't pray hard enough or it wasn't part of the plan etc - God can't lose because only the good stuff is attributed to him - the bad stuff is rationalized away, but whatever the rationalization is, it is not God.

Carry this into health care though, and we often have people attribute someone's recovery from ill health to God and prayer or miracles - not to medical treatment and care, misdiagnosis or spontaneous remission. Yet, as I point out in the original post, if prayer really worked in the way that the religious claim we wouldn't have need of hospitals or evidence based medical care for two main reasons:

  1. Nobody prays to become sick. People pray for good health and a long life - they don't pray to have a serious accident or incurable disease. If prayer worked no one would ever be sick - except I suppose the non-religious or non-devout, who either don't pray at all or don't pray enough (whatever that limit is).
  2. If people were sick or injured then if prayer worked those illnesses or injuries would be immediately rectified or cured upon those people praying - nobody prays to continue to be sick or injured, they pray to be cured or to recover. If prayer worked they would not therefore need medical treatment and in countries where the religious are present in great numbers hospitals need not exist. This is demonstrably not true.
Further to these two points is the obvious one that the website Why Won't God Heal Amputees? makes. People who lose limbs, or who are born without them, never have those limbs come back despite praying for exactly that to happen. If prayer works, then why won't God heal amputees?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dell customer service and Dell Inspiron 17R SE review

Come gather round seekers of reviews for the Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition, or model 7720, and prepare for a cautionary tale of woe. And frustration. And anger. And abysmal customer service. And awful product quality.

I don't usually put this sort of thing on the blog. In fact, I don't put much of anything on the blog nowadays unfortunately. But I have had such a shockingly piss poor experience with Dell and the Dell Inspiron 17R SE - the Dell model 7720 - that I want to write about it in the hope that someone else doesn't make my mistake and actually buy a Dell Inspiron 17R SE.

In case I am not being clear enough - this review is for Dell and the Dell Inspiron 17R SE. There, that should help the Google hits.

The Beginning

Back in July 2012 I ordered the Dell Inspiron 17R SE from Best Buy for approximately $1,000. At first the computer seemed to be doing OK, but I did notice some niggling issues. Yes it was (mostly) fast, yes the display was good, yes it was a big step up from my 6 year old Gateway MX6455. It was shiny.

I also noticed frame rate slow down when playing The Witcher though. And errors would pop up when viewing photos, and the errors caused a program crash. There were a few other annoyances as well, but nothing major - most caused by the Dell bloatware. That was, until October. I noticed a dead pixel just off to the right of the center of the LCD display. It was really obvious once I knew it was there, and a little more than three months after buying it made the annoyance pretty severe, especially on such a high end machine with a high end display. $1000 is half a months wages for me and I do a lot of word processing on it, so white backgrounds made the dead pixel really stand out.

Granted, one pixel doesn't sound like much but the bloody laptop was brand new. I looked after it, it hasn't been dropped or overclocked or mistreated in anyway and the screen was failing already.

Now. Industry standard for warranty repair of dead pixels ranges from there being a zero tolerance to over 12 dead ones, depending on quality of screen and location on it. Dell bases their warranty for dead pixels on sub pixels - each pixel is made up of 3 sub pixels - and they require 6 dead (black) sub pixels, which is different to stuck pixels, which are usually white. So I was half way there and figured that they would fix it (since Best Buy wouldn't because I didn't buy the extended warranty - which wouldn't have covered this anyway - another bunch of wankers).

So I called Dell technical support and was told no, they wouldn't fix it because their policy was 6 pixels.

And here is the first Dell customer service fail - the tech and his senior support tech, who he went away to consult, didn't even know their own policy on warranty repair of dead pixels. It is 6 sub pixels, or 2 full pixels. I had one dead full pixel, or 3 sub pixels.

I was annoyed but didn't say anything to complain other than something like "So you won't fix this $1000 computer even though it's only three months old?" No, they wouldn't. 6 pixels blah blah. Thank you and goodbye.

Now an aside here in defence of the guys on the phone - they have all, in every dealing I've had, been polite and well spoken and mostly helpful. Don't believe the racist asshats you usually hear complaining about Dell that blame it all on these guys just because they aren't from Texas. Most are better spoken than the average American in my experience, and they didn't build the crap that Dell sells, or come up with the policies Dell uses to hide away from its responsibilities to its customers (though it would help if they at least knew those policies correctly).

Anyway. I stewed over this for a week and started drafting a pretty tasty letter to send to Dell complaining about them not being prepared to fix this. Then, before posting this letter I tried once more to get in touch with tech support to have them fix this issue, but this time I used the online chat feature. Success! The tech guy I spoke to was very helpful, very apologetic and immediately opened a service ticket and arranged for the packaging to be sent and promised to get it all fixed under warranty.

Two weeks later I had the computer back, dead pixel gone and nice new LCD screen. I should have guessed something was up when I took the Inspiron out of the box and noticed that by one of the speakers on the front the case had not been put back together correctly. What kind of technician doesn't put a computer back together properly? Anyway, I fixed it myself ( just had to loosen a screw and it popped into place) and everything was fine.

Until I noticed the sound was starting to go.

The Middle

So, whenever I used Skype, or listened to music from YouTube, or watched an online video like a BBC news report, I would hear distortion coming from the sub-woofer. Like static from an untuned radio channel. I think the technical term might be crunch but don't quote me. So I started to research if anyone else with this type of Inspiron was having the issue. And there were, quite a few in fact. And there were lots of software update suggestions for fixing it, from the audio drivers to the graphics card drivers. And none of them worked. And I also noticed a popping noise whenever I entered or exited a web page that contained a video, even if I didn't actually play it.

The crunch sound was not constant so I ignored it at first, until Christmas rolled around and it started to occur whenever the speakers were in use. Then after Christmas I noticed yet another dead pixel. Then two more, then a whole line of half a dozen of them off to one side, then some in the corner. And was that a crack or a hair? What the hell?

At least a dozen dead pixels all told. Or alternatively, when they replaced the screen the first time they didn't seal it properly and dust or something was getting inside the screen, between the glass cover and the LCD panel itself. It looked like dead pixels to me though. Either way, that's another warranty repair - especially since they persuaded me to buy the extended warranty.

So I got back on the online chat and told them about the sound and the pixels. The tech support guy said it would have to go back to fix the screen, and after trying some software fixes that did nothing decided the sound issue needed a fix too. So the box came and I shipped the Inspiron 17R SE back to Dell, for the second time in six months. For a $1000 computer that was just six months old. Not cool. And if you do some research, apparently not unsual for the massively unreliable and inconsistent Dell Inspiron 17R SE.

I didn't hear anything much other than parts were on order, until the machine showed up on my doorstep last Friday (18th Jan 2013). I wasn't able to turn the thing on until the Saturday because of work commitments. I should have known something was up when I opened the box and taped to the top of the Inspiron was a reinstallation disk for Windows 7 Professional.

"That's weird." Says I. "They didn't send a disk last time. And I don't think I had Windows 7 Professional installed either." But I plugged it and switched it on and... Well, nothing. Apart from the "Operating System Not Found" error.

What. The. Hell?

I looked again at the piece of paper that was in the box. The piece that says, and I don't have it with me but I'll edit this later to get the exact wording, "We have fully tested your computer to ensure that the reported issue has been resolved." UPDATE 01/28/2013: It reads "Enclosed please find your repaired Dell portable. The system was diagnosed and extensively tested by certified technicians to ensure the problem you experienced was corrected." Oh really? Funny that Dell didn't notice THE COMPUTER WOULDN'T EVEN TURN ON during this test.

How, pray tell, did you test the sound when the computer won't boot up? And how did you test the pixels weren't dead by looking for black pixels on a black screen? And I looked at the parts they claimed to have repaired. A new motherboard. A new hard drive. A new screen. And "Others". What the hell is "Others"?

And how did you fix the speakers without, you know, fixing the speakers?

Now I was pretty pissed, so I got on the phone and was transferred to the warranty repair department and spoke to a very nice lad called Monaj who, after apologising for the fact that the computer had come back without the OS installed, looked up what had been done. He said the repair technician and found that the operating system was corrupt and that he had been unable to reinstall it so just put a new hard drive in.

Nonsense, the OS had been operating just fine when it left my house, and had the repair technician never heard of the "format" command? Again, Manoj apologised for the OS not being reinstalled but said since I had the disk he would help me reinstall it. So I told him OK, I do have the Windows 7 Professional reinstall disk. And he went quiet and asked to put me on hold. When he came back he apologised again, it was the wrong OS. It needed to be Windows 7 Home Premium because of a code embedded in the motherboard.

So let's recap this tale of Dell incompetence and Dell product quality:

The screen on my Dell Inspiron 17R SE had begun to fail twice in the space of three months, when the computer was less than six months old AND the sound had started to fail in the same period. When it went in for repair the technician put a new hard drive in, a new LCD panel in, a new motherboard in, and "others" - whatever that was. Dell then sent it back with a blank hard drive expecting me to reinstall the whole system. With a disk and OS that wouldn't work on the motherboard that Dell had themselves installed. And then Dell also included a letter saying the technician had tested the system to make sure all the problems were fixed - despite the fact the computer wouldn't even turn on properly!

Dell - you are incompetent and your product sucks.

And that isn't even the end of it.

The End? Not bloody likely

So Manoj apologised again, arranged for the correct disks to be sent out and said Dell would call me on the 23rd January to help reinstall, and that it would take about an hour.

So the disks showed up and someone called me on the 23rd and we started the installation. And then he said he'd call back on the 24th to help me reinstall the utilities and drivers because Windows would take an hour. It took about 20 minutes. And, lo and behold, the dead pixels were all still present.

From this there can only be a few conclusions. First - the technician did not replace the LCD panel, lied about that and then lied about testing the computer. Second - the technician did replace the panel and lied about testing it, and the problem is marks or debris on the inside of the LCD glass cover, between it and the LCD panel. Which he would have seen if he had actually tested the computer. Third - the LCD panel has failed in exactly the same places as it did previously and the technician lied about testing it to make sure the problem was gone. Fourth - the LCD panel failed in exactly the same places whilst in transit and the technician did correctly test it. Somehow. Magic, maybe?

Call me a cynic but I am going for option 1 or option 2. I haven't got to testing the sound yet, but I am not holding my breath. I will update this after getting the drivers and utilities reinstalled and being able to actually get the sound going. I could do this installation myself right now, I used to work in IT, but I am not going to give them an excuse to say I screwed it up. But, if the sound is not fixed then Dell actually managed to return my computer in worse condition than when I sent it too them, and lied about what their technician actually did.


Dell, you and your Dell Inspiron 17R SE are a disgrace. Poor quality, poor and incompetent - not to mention dishonest - service

And don't think that my experience is the only one - go and look at some of the horror stories listed in the reviews section on Dell's website. Just scroll down to see the reviews, mine is also on there for back in October/November 2012. Other people have had far worse experiences with this model, and yet others love it. I smell a rat.

I will update this with the results of testing the sound, and with the results of my complaints to Dell and the Better Business Bureau.

In short - don't buy the Dell Inspiron 17R SE (model number 7720) - it's junk. In fact, just don't buy a Dell. The horror stories you hear about their technical repairs are true.

UPDATE 1/28/2013:

Oh it just keeps getting better.

First, the sound does appear to be improved, but certainly not completely fixed. I still noticed some distortion on speech during a Skype video call this weekend.

However, that isn't the best of it. First I tried to use My Dell Downloads to install all the factory installed programs - and four or five of the downloads failed (I forget exactly right now). I haven't bothered trying to reinstall the ones that did work yet because I have a feeling there is going to be more wiping and reinstalling of operating systems because:

The solid state drive doesn't work! I noticed the machine was booting very slowly and so tried to look at what was on the SSD, thinking maybe I should have installed Windows 7 on that and not the hard drive. Only the SSD did not show in Windows Explorer. Or Device Manager. So I started an online chat with someone from tech support, and after an hour of reinstalling drivers, rebooting, checking BIOS settings etc she decided that the SSD might not be seated properly and the ten day old motherboard would need to be replaced. And since there is a technician coming to do a home repair for the LCD screen, again, there will now be another one coming to replace the motherboard, again. Because apparently doing it all at once would be too difficult or who knows what.

Dell: screwing up computers from the beginning. Anyone know a good lawyer?

UPDATE 2/7/2013:

Well isn't this fun.

So, both onsite tech visits occurred, both techs agreed that the LCD panel was not replaced by the repair depot, both replaced the parts they were supposed to. Motherboard and solid state drive are working, after I once again reinstalled Windows and all the drivers. The LCD panel is working, for now, with no apparent damage or dead pixels - further confirming it was never replaced at the depot. However - taking the case apart has resulted in three different broken sections! The keyboard no longer sits correctly because one of the plastic tabs is broken/worn down, so by the ESC key it bobs up and down with pressure applied, if not just unseating completely and popping up in that corner. Then the bezel that covers the front of the LCD panel is warped and no longer fits tight to the screen in the bottom right, as well as some more retaining tabs being broken. Finally, the case around the LCD panel doesn't fit together anymore because several plastic tabs are broken - so it leaves a nice gap that shouldn't be there.

A case manager called me on the 4th to see if I was satisfied and I told him of these issues and the answer was - not covered under warranty so we can't repair it. But I'll send a tech back since they broke it. But they won't be able to fix it because of the nature of the damage says I. I'll decide what needs to be replaced and call you in three days, says he.

And that's when I filed my Better Business Bureau complaint asking for a full refund. Watch this space.

Incidentally, the Dell repair provider has also broken Texas statutes for deceptive trade practices. The Texas statutes state in title 2, chapter 17, subchapter E, section 17.46 of the Business and Commerce Code: 

"(a) False, misleading , or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful..." then "(b) ... the term "false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices includes, but is not limited to, the following: ... (7) representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade ... if they are of another ... (22) representing that work or services have been performed on, or parts replaced in, goods when the work or services were not performed or the parts replaced."

They managed to do both of these things. This could be interesting.


So I heard from someone at Dell calling herself Susan with regard to my Better Business Bureau complaint. Dell don't want to give me a refund. They say the refund period is 21 days from day of purchase. In other words, Dell only stand by their product for three weeks. Since it is outside that period she said Dell can't (and by that she means "Don't want to") give me a refund. They will however give me a refurbished replacement of similar or better specs. I kept asking if she meant "equal" specs and she kept saying "similar". Then she couldn't find anyone in the refurbishment department to tell us if there was even one available, so she is going to call back on the 8th.

At which point I will refuse the exchange and ask to speak to a manager. If they refuse to refund me then I will get their name and file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division and the FTC, since Dell's "repair" depot broke Texas state law. I'm not accepting a second hand replacement, of the same shitty type, for an $1100 computer I got just over six months ago, and that for approximately one month of that the thing has been at Dell or awaiting onsite repairs. Simply unacceptable.

UPDATE 2/9/2013:

Spoke again with Susan Thomas from Dell. They flat out refuse to do a refund and say the options are simply get a refurbished unit with equal specs or repair the one I have. In no particular order the conversation included: I asked to speak with a manager and she said that she was as high as I was going to get - she is at Dell corporate headquarters and her manager does not take calls. I pointed out that this model is clearly a problem and why would I want a used version that would have similar problems. She simply restated that was what there was and would I like more time to think about it. She did say it had been through quality checks and I pointed out that my unit was supposed to have gone through quality checks as well when it was repaired at their facility. She ignored that and reiterated that was all I could get. She tried to make a point that if they made an exception for me they would have to make an exception for every customer. She said they would continue with the repair request for the case if I wanted. I asked her to call back on Monday so I could think about what I wanted to do.

Her point about the exception causing a landslide of complaints is of course nonsense. First - is she saying that their product and behavior is so appalling that there are many other customers with similar claims to mine, the volume of which would bankrupt Dell? If there are then I suppose this would set a precedent. And it's therefore an admission of how shit Dell and their products are - and that they know this. Second - is she saying that somehow they would have to publish to everyone that this exception was made and therefore instantly people with totally different claims would be asking for a refund they would have to give? Third - is she arguing that it is impossible to handle issues on a case by case basis? Bollocks.

So, complaint with the Texas Attorney General Consumer Protection Division = filed. Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission = filed. Next, letters addressed to every corporate executive officer and board member. Corporate attitudes usually start at the top, and Dell's stinks.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In which I respond to my first raving "pro"-lifer

I admit it took longer than I thought it would to attract my first truly raving "pro"-lifer to my post on the personhood movement, but it finally happened. An anonymous commenter left two responses that I thought required a more detailed response than that which can be provided in a simple comment, so I decided I would write a new post in reply to them.

One request though, please read and understand the original post before reading this, which is certainly more than our anonymous commenter did. Our intrepid "pro"-lifer merely repeats things I dismiss in the original post (as if repeating something shown to be stupid somehow makes it right the second time) or parrots all the usual talking points that they have heard from their pastor, priest, right wing radio host, right wing website, right wing friends. Nothing new or exciting, except the incoming Godwin, which I admit to hearing for the first time in the context of the abortion rights argument.

One further warning to our anonymous friend - pick a nickname/psuedonym to post under. Any subsequent anonymous comments will be deleted, not because you are right, not because I cannot respond, not because I'm afraid of the truth etc etc. So many comments get made by anonymous drive by commenters that having a name associated to your comment means I can respond to the right people. It's easy to do, you don't even have to register anywhere - just select 'Name/URL' from the drop down box labelled 'Comment As' underneath the text box you type your comment in, then pick a name, anything as long as it can be used to direct replies to.

For the purpose of this post, I will refer to the anonymous commenter as Gloria. In honour of renowned feminist and pro-abortion rights activist Gloria Steinem.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

For the religious: If you want to piss me off, try this

I'll let you into a little secret: I run a little hot. You shouldn't be surprised (if you know me or if you've seen my writings around the interwebs) to learn that I have a quick temper and I let it out on the internet. In person I am a lot more controlled, but push far enough and I will snap. Usually I give people a chance, if they are polite and original I can hold it back and I will be polite right back. If you start off as an ass or repeat tired old arguments as if they are brand new, you get one barrel of the literal shotgun. If you want both right away though, there are a few things you can do and when it comes to religion there's one that really makes me see red - accuse those without religion of being immoral, selfish, amoral, greedy or somehow less 'nice' than those with religion. That will get you an immediate "Fuck you."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why do you oppose gay marriage?

I've struggled for quite some time now to write a post about gay marriage rights (which really should just be gay rights, since marriage is a basic right for everyone). I've started a couple and deleted them because I just couldn't find the right approach or motivation to complete that I needed, until this weekend. I can always count on the Catholic Church to give me the motivation I need to point out how bloody hideous and ridiculous the whole bloated institution is, so when it started getting more vocal about gay rights it was all the help I needed. The post will hopefully be in two parts, the first dealing with the objections to gay marriage that I've heard or come across and the second dealing with the nonsense that came from the Catholic church this past week.

Objections to gay marriage rights

There are lots of different versions of the arguments put forward to oppose/demonize gay marriage rights, but the list below hopefully covers most of them in a general format - almost all the arguments you hear will fit either under one of these broader categories, or across more than one.

  1. It's wrong.
  2. It's against God's law/the Bible/the beliefs of religion X.
  3. It's (meaning homosexuality) not natural.
  4. Marriage is about procreation and gay people can't procreate/but gay people can't have children.
  5. It's icky/makes me uncomfortable.
  6. Marriage should be between a man and a woman.
  7. Gay marriage would destroy/reduce/undermine all marriage.
  8. I don't like gay people.
  9. It's against the law.

Now, I may have missed some, and feel free to chime in with those, but broadly speaking every argument I have heard used against gay marriage fits in one or more of these at a time. And I'll be honest right from the start, I think they are all bloody stupid. Not a one of those is an argument that makes me want to re-evaluate my position - they are all idiotic. So let's take a look at why.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why the personhood movement is wrong

Conservative 'pro-life' groups in the USA have always been looking for ways to overturn Roe v Wade and ban abortions of any form performed for any reason ever since the ruling was handed down, and their latest high profile strategy has been the attempted introduction of so called 'personhood' amendments in several US states. These amendments usually center around one principle - define life as beginning at fertilization, thereby granting full human rights to the newly formed combination of two gametes. Amendments that attempted this have already been rejected by voters in Colorado, Alaska and Mississippi. And this is a good thing. In fact, a very good thing. For one very good reason:

Defining human life as beginning at fertilization is arbitrary and stupid.

However, the national GOP would love to introduce a federal level personhood amendment - and this act of religious dogma dressed up as human rights concern needs to be fought and finally, utterly, defeated.

Monday, May 23, 2011

OK, anger it is

Honestly, the sheer cheek of some people is breathtaking.

Not content with his spectacular and very public failure to predict something that will never occur, Harold Camping is now at it again. The Rapture won't be on May 21st 2011 but October 21st 2011, after all that.

Quite why this date is a dead cert when the previously predicted two also were and then weren't is not clear. I'll have a guess though. It has something to do with Harold Camping being a clueless lying fuckwit trying to impose his ridiculous interpretations of a ridiculous superstition on the real world, then desperately trying to cover it up when it all goes tits up because he knows the truly stupid won't miss a beat as they accept this new date and his rationalisations.

I'm going to stick my neck out and say the real world is going to win this one. Again.

The sad thing is that people will still suck this shit right up and pretend its chocolate. Who knows though, maybe it'll be third time lucky. But I wouldn't cancel any plans you have for the 22nd October 2011.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pity? Anger? Amusement? I'm just not sure

Well, you didn't really think I was going to let the failed Rapture pass without comment, did you?

Now, I'm honestly not sure exactly what I should be feeling about this whole thing. Should I pity the people who believed Harold Camping and gave up money and more? Should I dismiss them as gullible and stupid? Should I feel they got what they deserved for their lack of critical thinking and arrogance? Should I direct my feelings towards Camping in the form of anger and disgust? Or should I just point and laugh?

Right now, I'm going for a mixture of most of the above. But I think I can rule out pity, except for the innocent victims. Those who have no college fund now because their parents are fucking morons. Those who will suffer because others fell for this fast burning stupidity.