Choice and Consequence

Romney chooses Ryan. I hope the consequence is we end up spending more time talking about what to do about Medicare, tax reform,, video watch and download, deficits and size/role of government, and spend less time on silly stuff like tax returns and birth certificates.

If that’s the result, then Romney just did us all a big favor.


Welcome the the New Digital Podcast

The old site had become, well, old and inflexible and lots of other problematic things, so I decided that after 7 years it was time to do a complete makeover. What you see today is just the beginning. Things work differently than they used to and I’m sorry if that’s a problem for you, but change was needed and given that I am the sole designer, programmer of this little project I did what I thought would be good for me and for other users.

My goal was make the site something of a cross between what iTunes is for a podcast directory and what Google’s Reader is for a client. I don’t know if that will be good or bad yet, but that’s the design concept I’m going for.

The site’s listings are much better now, with fewer faded out podcasts cluttering up the works. The ability to follow your favorite podcasts and listen/view should also be much better now.

I still have a list of stuff to do that spans a few pages, but I am tackling them one at time so more change to come.

So give it a try and see if you like it. At some point I will figure out a way to get more systematic feedback. Until then, here’s a link to my contact info if you need something.


23 Years Old and $120,000 in Debt

How does this happen?  According to the NYT, a young woman named Kelsey Griffith is graduating from college and will have $120,000 in student loans.  She’s only 23 and it will take her forever to pay this off.

This should not happen IMO.  No one should lend this much money to a 23 year old kid.  They have no idea what they are getting themselves into.

I’m not against student loans.  I took something like $10-20k in loans.  I don’t remember how much is was, but it took a long time to pay off.  But that seems like a reasonable limit.  It’s about what a new car loan would be. A decent job should be able to cover that much debt, but it will not support $120k in loans.

It should not be allowed to happen.  It’s like a form of predatory lending, if you ask me.

In DC, they’re arguing about the interest rates on new student loans.  It’s like they’re arguing about how many deck chairs the Titanic needs.  They should start by capping student loans at $5k per year.  I bet  you would see colleges adjust pretty quickly if the student loan gravy train stopped inflating tuition costs.


One Word Movie Reviews: The Grey







Bing, Huffington Post, Fox News All Running Ads for Scams

A couple of years ago, I wrote about Fake Blogs being used to promote marketing scams. It seems that the fake bloggers have moved on to become Fake News sites.

The fake blog scam used a fake blog to show how the fake blogger had lost weight using 2 magic products they saw on Oprah. They gave rave reviews to the products and had lots of fake comments too. They link you to a site to get supposedly free samples. If you signed up, you got put on a monthly subscription for $70 per month or something like that, without really knowing you signed up for anything.

Ads for these kinds of sites were all over the internet, including the big search engines like Google. Google took steps to stop these ads from showing on their site by banning everyone whoever ran an ad to such a site. They did it without appeal or warning. Just banned people for life. They banned me too because I had tested ads to see if they were hard to get approved. They weren’t hard to get approved. Google had no problems with them until much later when the FTC got involved. Despite Google’s harsh treatment of its customers, at least you won’t find those ads there any more.

Not so for Bing, Huffington Post, Fox News and other big name sites. They still run ads for these scammers. The ads look like these and point to Fake News sites promoting wrinkle cream or weight loss or whatever.

This first example is an ad from Bing, followed by ads from Huffington Post and Fox News.

The one below is from the Huffington Post.

This one is from Fox News:

These ads point to sites that look like these:

These sites claim to be advertisements at the top of the page. But it’s not clear what part is an ad. In fact the entire site is an ad with fake news stories, fake endorsements and fake comments. They even disclaim that they are all fake at the bottom of the page in some really fine print in faded colars at the bottom of the page saying something like:

* We are not affiliated in any way with Headline News, CNN or USA Today. Headline News, CNN, Newsweek, Shape and USA Today are all registered trademarks of their respective owners. ® All trademarks on this web site whether registered or not, are the property of their respective owners. The authors of this web site are not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the third-party trade mark or third-party registered trade mark owners, and make no representations about them, their owners, their products or services.


* The story depicted on this site and the person depicted in the story are not real. rather this story is based on the results that some people who have used these products have achieved. The results portrayed in the story and in the comments are illustrative and may not be the results that you achieve with these products. this page receives compensation for clicks on or purchase of products featured on this site.
The depictions on this page are fictitious and indicitive of potential results. Actual results may vary.

*DermaLift-SP Terms & Conditions:

By placing my order, I agree to the Terms of Offer, which explain that I must cancel within 30 days of today to avoid enrollment in monthly delivery program, which ships fresh supply and charges $69.95 upon the end of the trial period, and subsequently $69.95 monthly thereafter. You will be charged on same card provided today. If you wish to cancel, please call: xxxxxxxxxx If You have any questions about Our Risk Free Trial, please contact Our Customer Service Department toll-free at xxxxxxxx

These sites are scams in my opinion. They are no better than the fake blogs. The FTC should take them down and sites like Bing, Huffington Post and Fox News should be fined for letting these kinds of ads run.

BTW if you look at the ads above that run on Huffington Post and Fox News, there is one titled Veterans Administration. It is not any part of the real Department of Veterans Affairs, but it sure does a good job of sounding official. My guess is that that’s some sort of scam too.


A Senator Who Gets The Internet

Senator Ron Wyden is one of the few politicians anywhere who seems to really understands the Internet and the implications of Government intrusions into our privacy. He stands up to the Media industry and it’s attack on the rights of innovators.

If you want to understand some to the big issues like the so called PROTECT IP act and how the government has a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act that would upset people if we only knew what it was.

If you have 35 minutes watch this video interview with Senator Wyden.


Will Amazon & California Declare a Truce in Tax War?

It is being widely reported that Amazon and the state legislature have declared truce in the ongoing effort to get Amazon to collect sales taxes. In the deal that passed the legislature last Friday, Amazon and other online retailers get to delay collecting sales taxes until September 2012 so that they may try to lobby for a federal solution to the tax issue. In exchange, Amazon is going to drop its proposed initiative to block the law.

Amazon had earlier offered to create 7,000 jobs in California by building multiple distribution centers in California. Amazon still wants to do that and asked for safe harbor if they go ahead, but the legislature didn’t accept that. They say that the opportunity to create jobs will have to wait until January.

It’s too bad that the only real sense of urgency in Sacramento is to collect more taxes and not to create more jobs. They are giving Amazon the tax break anyway, so creating 7,000 jobs would be costless to the state. But the people in Sacramento just don’t seem to care enough to deal with that now and prefer to wait four or five more months. I guess they think four or five months of 7,000 people being unemployed isn’t worth their time.

As I write this, it is unclear what Gov. Brown will do – will he sign it, veto it or just let it go into law without his signature.

Whether Amazon will reinstate its affiliate program in California is also still up in the air, but it would be nice to see the 25,000 affiliates back in business creating jobs and paying taxes. We can only wait and see.


The Sacramento Bee published an article describing Amazon’s new offer to California’s Governor Brown and the Legislature. Amazon is apparently offering to spend tens of millions of dollars on new distribution centers in California and hire 7,000 people in exchange for the state delaying until 2014 a law requiring out of state retailers to collect sales tax for the state.

The law could mean that Amazon has to collect $200 million in sales taxes for the state. But the status of the law is uncertain. Amazon refuses to collect the sales tax.

As a result of the new law, Amazon terminated business relationships with 25,000 small businesses based in California to protect itself from having to to collect the sales tax. This has cost the state lots of jobs and lost income taxes as well.

In addition, Amazon claims the law is unconstitutional and has started collecting signatures for a June referendum that would overturn the law.

According to the Mercury News, when Amazon submits signatures for its referendum by Sept. 27, the law requiring Amazon to pay taxes will be stayed until the June election. That would mean no revenues could be collected.

So on one side, Amazon spends lots of money in California to build distribution centers and creates 7,000 jobs and on the other side California will probably get nothing or at best only some part of $200 million.

The Democrats running the state are not that interested in Amazon’s offer and only seem interested in trying to collect more taxes. Their most recent maneuver is to try to bypass a vote by citizens on Amazon’s referendum by passing the law again but this time with a two thirds majority. Republicans don’t seem interested.

Unless the Democrats can make their end-run around the democratic process work, Amazon will have won the PR battle. When the citizens get to vote on the law, they will know for certain that this law and our representatives in Sacramento have killed at least 7,000 certain jobs.