Sunday, July 16, 2006

fight the power

For the first time in my life today, I contested a charge on my credit
card bill. And I have to say: it was incredibly satisfying.

The first was a strange online charge to a wierd online-fantasy game
site. I have no clue how that happened. I have assume its a mistake
on the game-company since anyone who would be into credit card fraud
AND online gaming would have surely spent a lot more than one $42

I liked that one, since the nice email i had sent the gaming company
had gotten back just a snippy form letter.

But it was the second that felt so good. This one was a giant, heaping
Fuck You to fuckin' Delta fuckin' Airlines.

Delta is the worst airline on earth. In fact, they are probably the
worst company on earth I know of, of any kind.

I used to fly a lot, and Mandy now flies as much as I ever did, so
between us we've seen them all. No one comes close. Delta is the
worst airline this side - maybe that side - of Aeroflot. And with
Aeroflot, you now what you're getting.

Delta has lost an 80lbs, bright red bag for 5 days on a non-stop
international flight (?), and offered compensation of $50 a day IF you
had reciepts.
Delta has damaged Mandy's luggage to the point that stuff fell out
and was lost, twice in two trips.
Delta's SkyMiles program is essentially a rumor - both Mandy and I
have been told that no SkyMiles seats were available on a flight but we
were welcome to buy a seat on the same flight. Skymiles fees, when you
do get a seat, are the highest in the industry, making it hardly worht
the effort.
Delta, alone among airlines, uses American Express as their credit
card partner, meaning their annual fees start at 85 and go up to nearly
Delta has left Mandy stranded in two different airports on the same
trip with no accomodations, forcing her to pay to drive to a third
airport to catch a connection.
Delta has NEVER given our money back, offered a discount or upgrade
or offered to pay expenses on any of the above problems.
And Delta is the major player at Hartsfield I'ntl, the second worst
airport in America behind Philly, and far and away the worst among any
and all hubs (yes, worse than Dallas, particularly if you are
attempting to drive to or from it).

Please, join us in boycotting Delta, won't you?

Well, they charged us $50 a few months ago for some unfair fee, but
they made the mistake of charging it twice. And we even played ball -
we called them. we waded through their elaborate, inept phone system
(worst in the industry, by the way). we got to "Refunds" (which they
keep locked away on its own phone-system island, which you must have
permission from other gatekeepers to enter).
And the "refunds" people said, 'oh, we don't do credit card
refunds.' Or maybe it was, 'we don't do fee refunds.' Whatever - the
Delta Refunds department said they weren't going to refund us a charge
they rest of their operators said they owed.

here, they said, call another number.

So I did: bank of america. Fuck you Delta.

Just an invigorating thing to do.

Fuck Delta.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Charity's insightful analysis

first off, soldiers at checkpoints don't get kidnapped BY
DEFINITION. Do we 'kidnap' taliban guys from Kabul? Everytime I hear
someone throw out the word 'kidnap' or 'abducted' I feel 1-percent less
supportive of Israel. When it's an Israeli official saying it, it
bumps up to 10-percent, because then it's intentionally manipulative
and NEVER goes unchalleneged.
Call them 'captured' or 'prisoners' or just 'missing' or even
'casualties.' If they're 'kidnapped' than Isreal is already a
world-leader felon, along with the US. can't have it both ways.
Of course, also never spoken, is that you can't very well sell
marching a country to war over 'captured' soldiers, and certainly not
over three (three!) 'casulaties.' But three 'kidnapped, solders ' I
guess, is enough to let slip the dogs.
The result, of course, has been predictable: the debate is now, 'is
Isreal over-reacting?' as if there is an argument that three captured
(and, so far, still alive) soldiers at a roadblock could ever
rationally equate to the shelling and invasion of a country. There
have bee armies in the last 100 years that practiced that scope of
retaliation. The state Israel was formed in defiance of their memory.
But of course, it's not about kidnapping. We might as well start
calling them KMDs - Kidnappings Of Mass Destruction. Its precisely the
same lie with precisely the same motive (though, in Israeli's defense,
there is not an abundance of evidence that those soldiers don't exist).

You want to go to Lebanon? Go to Lebanon. Just don't sell it as
Entebbe II.

Second, what no one (including Charity's delightfully well informed
email) is saying is that Israel could lose. and they could.
not in absolute terms (I mean, Tel Aviv won't fall or anything), but
their 'ultra-modern' army (and its unchalleneged air force - sound
familiar?) could take far greater casualties and accomplish quite a bit
less than they think they can, and that would be the same thing as
losing. Throw in any kind of a 'quagmire' scenerio, and its 10 times
I JUST GOT that that word is the same as the name of the Family Guy
bachelor. Just hit me.
Anyway, I would never have considered that notion to be plausible
before a) a group of alledged 'terrorist' street thugs managed to
attack and set afire an underway warship, a just fall-over amazing
feat, B) they proved that - Holy Shit! - they actualy have rockets that
can reach out and touch someone (begging the question, what else do
they have) and C) the last three years in Iraq.
Modern-army-vs-hometown-thugs 101.
(though the "rockets in Haifa" thing strikes me just like the
'kidnapped' thing - last night CNN had a US reporter obviously in some
imbed-like position who sort of manfully reported that he'd been with
an Israeli artillery brigade that had been launching shells into a
Lebanese city for four hours. And i'm confident Israel owns more than
one company-worth of canons).

but from a military/political standpoint, I have a feeling Hezbollah
would like nothing better than to watch the Israeli's roll their
(American) tanks up a road and into a city. plenty of guys in there
with friends in baghdad and access to the internet. Could be a hell of
a fight - and if it is, regardless of who wins, Israel loses.

So what would happen if Israel went all in and was handed a
genuinely embarrassing battlefield setback (I'll abstain from the word
'defeat')? THEN what? I'll tell you what: stay the fuck out of
Damascus for a few weeks.

Maybe, just maybe, this will workout for exactly the reasons Iraq
hasn't. Consider:
Dubya went in to impose democracy via bayonette on a nation entirely
committed to despotism. Given 10 years, it might work, as it
occasionally has other places (a notion I've NEVER disputed and in fact
have always thought was really a great idea - just not worth 1/100th of
the cost in lives and coin, not for a shit-ass, nearly-first-world
country like Iraq when the globe is brimming with more deserving
candidates). In 10 years, Iraq could settle out and look like...
Modern Lebanon: able (and willing) to hold elections and make them
stick, influenced by and aligned with Dark Neighbor (Syria/Iran) but
not Of them.
again, that's 10 years away in Iraq, but it's a week ago in Lebanon.

That would be the Good Outcome: Israel effectively shoots the locks
off the last chain holding back Lebanese democracy (WOW, what a visual!
I just made that up, too! I wish I knew somebody at the White House -
I'd charge them for it).

Or the Bad Outcome: The sight of tanks crossing the border does
exactly what it did in Iraq - squash debate, progress and reason, end
democracy and fire up the militias. So long to 2, 5, 10, 20 years of

Plus: $77 oil. Gas prices effectively tripling in 2 years. No
matter what, Israel just made that the floor.