May 2012



Phone Scams

Today alone I’ve been called three times by the same foreign sounding man implying he represents Microsoft and my computer has been infected. Because I’m a valued customer, he has called to help me with my problem. Each time I’ve played along and asked for his number in order to call him back. At that point, we always seem to lose the connection, but each time he has called me back. 

This is a classic scam. These criminals will try to coax you into going to your computer so they can help you “fix the problem.” Do not, repeat, do not give them any information such as your email address or anything else that might help them get into your computer.

The FBI recommends you be aware by looking for the following:

  • “You must act ‘now’ or the offer won’t be good.”
  • “You’ve won a ‘free’ gift, vacation, or prize.” But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.
  • “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.” You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.
  • “You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.” The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.
  • “You don’t need any written information about their company or their references.”
  • “You can’t afford to miss this ‘high-profit, no-risk’ offer.”

To minimize the number of calls you get, make sure you register with the “Do Not Call Registry.” If you want to register or verify your past registration, here is the link:

 National Do Not Call Registry 

To report any of these scams, contact the Federal Trade Commission:

Federal Trade Commission

Now if we could just do something about these people who send emails trying to get you to read their blogs.

Leaning Ivory Tower

“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.  If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”

We’ve probably all heard this famous quote before. It’s often falsely attributed to Winston Churchill. I’m not sure the originator of the quote is important, nor do I buy into it completely. I have many friends of each persuasion and I’m quite sure at the time this observation was first stated, both political orientations were quite different from today.

I do know for an absolute fact that our school systems, and especially our universities lean far, far to the left. This is probably an incredibly obvious statement to most people, but it’s the extent to which this statement is accurate that causes me concern.

My credibility on this subject is substantial. I spent way too many years as a student and an entire career teaching at several major universities. Trust me, the fix is in. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I retired sooner than I had planned. Personally a conservative, I always felt like I was part of some underground organization.

What brings up this subject today? Well, first of all, it’s been simmering in my brain for many years. Secondly, the Young American’s Foundation reported today only 1 in 7 commencement speakers invited to speak at the top 100 universities in the country is politically conservative. Shocking? Yes. I couldn’t believe there were any conservatives invited to speak.

How bad is the educational bias? Let me share my favorite, albeit somewhat dated example. One day near the end of my career while teaching at a very prestigious college, I began to notice the many pictures that had been posted all over campus. You could not walk ten feet inside or outside without seeing them. They were pictures of the communist, black panther, and former FBI top ten most wanted Angela Davis. She had been invited and was being paid a large sum of money to visit the campus and speak to the students. The build up went on for days. The students were excited, and the faculty (with at least one exception) was nearly orgasmic. On the day she arrived, classes were cancelled and professors made attendance at the event mandatory. O. K., but at least we were being fair and balanced, right? The next week I noticed Elizabeth Dole, a former cabinet member in the Reagan administration was coming to speak. When I walked into class, I asked if any students were planning to attend Ms. Dole’s presentation. There were crickets. Finally, one student asked, “Who’s Elizabeth Dole?”

Fact is, I’m more of an observer than a drum beater, but all parents and grandparents paying good money to these bastions of education should know this bias has only gotten worse through the years. Some time back, someone asked me why I stopped teaching when I did. After thinking for a moment, I responded, “Because I enjoyed teaching people how to think, not what to think.” Students today have very little choice.



Happy Mother’s Day

Some say Mother’s Day originated in ancient Greece, still others contend it began in ancient Egypt. Regardless, this Sunday we honor moms and I wish you all a wonderful day.

For readers of this blog, you know I lost my mother two months ago. I’m still in that phase of disbelief. Just yesterday when my wife and I walked into a familiar store, she grabbed a cart in the parking lot. When I asked her why, she got teary-eyed because she realized it was something she’d always done for my mother. She would grab the first cart she saw because holding the cart helped mom walk more steadily. It’s going to take a while.

This will be my first Mother’s Day without mom. But to me, “special days” are just like any other day. It’s one of the lessons I learned from my mother. While it’s nice to celebrate certain occasions such as birthdays and other similar cultural conventions, my mother taught me to live each day with enthusiasm, love, and respect.

Growing up on a farm, life for mom was not complicated. No shrinks needed. If you encountered a problem, you dealt with it. In dealing with people, you were always to be honest, polite, and show good manners. You were to get up each day and groom yourself, whether you were going out or not. You worked hard, were loyal to family, friends, and co-workers. Mom expected the same behavior from others and truly could not understand why anyone would not follow these simple rules of life. Many times she would see or hear a story about something like someone stealing something. She could never understand why anyone would do such a thing. In recent times, she would see women wearing pajama bottoms in a store and would be embarrassed for them. She considered it to be very disrespectful and an affront to good manners.

Some might consider such a rigid approach to life as being snobbish or prudish. Quite the contrary. Mom simply lived the Golden Rule. If others did not exhibit the same sensibilities, while she didn’t understand, she still showed them courtesy and respect.

Both my mother and father lived relatively modest lives. Interestingly, through his business, my father was once offered an opportunity to make a fortune with a long-term state contract if he would secretly kick back money to a certain state official. I was a young teenager at the time, and I overheard my parent’s  conversation. Here was a man who worked two jobs for thirteen years and his wife who supported him by taking care of the kids and maintaining a wonderful household. It was their chance to grab the financial golden ring. The choice was easy. They were not going to do anything even slightly dishonest, no matter how wealthy it would have made them.

The lessons were simple, and by today’s standards, perhaps considered a bit old-fashioned and out of touch. I very lucky to have had parents like mine. 

Thanks Mom.         


Government Stupidity!

When I pulled up to this stop sign, I broke out laughing. Just had to get a picture on my iPhone. Do I turn right as instructed, or heed the no right turn sign? If it wasn’t so sad it would be even funnier.

As it’s often been said, “We get the government we deserve.” It has become obvious to most thinking individuals our government at all levels is terribly inept at best, and corrupt at the worst. Even more frustrating is the way so many people are played like violins by slick politicians and their friends in the media.

Here are a couple of my favorite examples:

“We can’t ask voters for identification, that might disenfranchise someone.” Really? The states involved in these controversies have offered free identification cards for anyone who needs one. Who would be disenfranchised? Is anyone so completely stupid they don’t recognize this as a ploy to make sure the ballot box can be stuffed by illegal votes and in some cases, illegal citizens. In what transaction in this country are you disenfranchised if someone asks you for identification? I’m asked for it at my bank, grocery store, health care facility, airport, liquor store, video store, department store, hardware store, etc. Is our stupid government really telling me in order to vote, our most sacred right as a citizen of this country, I shouldn’t have to show my identification? Very stupid.

“The oil companies are gauging us at the pumps.” While the term gauging can be debated, when our own government officials make this statement, it makes me cringe. The fact is, oil companies make on average, 6.7 cents profit on a gallon of gas. The average government tax on a gallon of gas is 49.5 cents. Of course in those well-run states like New York and California, the taxes are closer to 70 cents a gallon. Very stupid.

Heads Up!

Do you realize that 42 billion dollars in government student loans is held by individuals over 60 years old. What’s more important is according to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, an individual’s Social Security benefits can be seized up to 15% over $750 each month. Whether it’s original loans or co-signed loans, the government is going to start coming after you.