Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The State Of Email Today

Now, when I initially saw The Dean's post about how much trouble he was was having with his Fuse email my first reaction was, "What in God's name is that fool still doing with a Fuse account?"

You see, I too once had an email address on a local ISP. So many people knew me under that email address that paid $10/month for it for YEARS after I had already moved over to broadband service.

I finally gave it up not so much because of the expense, but rather because of - you guessed it - the SPAM - the unrelenting, overwhelming, utterly unmanageable SPAM.

Now, right about that same period of time a couple of the "big players" started to get pretty good at filtering spam. AOL, which was a pay national ISP at the time, used to advertise heavily about their spam blockers. Yahoo, which was building a system based upon giving away staggering amounts of stuff for free (email, games, message boards, chat rooms, etc.) in order to attract eyeballs to mass advertisers in a business model not inherently different from network television was starting to get pretty good at spam blocking.

Why? Well, I'm guessing if people log into their email accounts and see nothing but hundreds and hundreds of spam emails they're going to get disinterested in using email and maybe start going to other sites and then advertisers will pay less for the smaller audience.

Now an ISP's business model is completely different. You pay maybe $45/mo. and if they don't have effective spam filters it doesn't matter because you're likely not going to go through the trouble of changing your ISP just to get less spam.

Now, alot of people keep their ISP-provided email address because they have had it for a long time or because they need it for certain services that won't take "free" email addresses for registration, but currently there seem to be three major email vendors who "get it" and a fourth who is trying awfully hard.

The first is Yahoo! Mail, currently offering a "beta" that looks an acts quite a bit like Microsoft Outlook.

Now Yahoo! Mail is free, and, as of quite recently, offers "unlimited storage" for "normal email account users".

Yahoo! also seems to be the "right brain" of advertiser supported online services. In return for really decent email service with pretty decent spam and virus protection, Yahoo! bombards you with various mostly very colorful and mostly very animated banner ads, of late, mostly advertising other parts of their own site like Yahoo! Travel, Yahoo! Personals, Yahoo! Video, with the occasional smattering of online universities and the occasional stray credit card.

Now the "left brain" of free online email of course is Google's GMail. GMail was a relative latecomer to the game and created all sorts of buzz by initially making it so that you had to be invited by another GMail user in order to get a GMail account. Also at one time they offered GMail accounts to users of the Blogger system, and that, as much as my Indian-Malaysian writer friend, led me to starting a blog.

Now, in return for currently about 2.8 gigabytes of storage, GMail bombards you with "targeted" text email ads, usually from rather small advertisers. For instance, an email volley with my Malaysian friends about Durian produces a test ad for an on-line grocery.

GMail is probably the overall leader of the pack in terms of "overall email experience". They group emails quite nicely in conjunction with, for instance, their Google Alerts service, have a nice mobile client, and also have an embedded chat application so you can have real-time discourse with any of the GMail users you email regularly.

Now, unlike Yahoo!, GMail does have POP access, but, for whatever reason, doesn't have IMAP access, which is something of a pain.

Now, becoming a contender, believe it or not, for the NEATEST free online email service is AOL.

That's right - AOL.

Now the web interface is not all that exciting - it's somewhat similar to Yahoo! - very "right brain" - ads in one box for mortgage lenders and cell phones, and headlines about celebrities in another box.

But, the beautiful part is that you don't HAVE to use the web interface. You can connect to your AOL mailbox with Outlook or anything else that will support the protocol with IMAP - that's a protocol where you pretty much just download your message headers and then only download the messages you actually want to read. They call it AOL Open Mail Access.

Of course the other thing that AOL really beat everyone too is "vanity domain". That's right, if it's available you can get an email something like "joe@psychotics.com" or something of the sort. They call it AOL My eAddress.

Honorable mention goes to, believe it or not, Windows Live Hotmail - 2 GB of storage, "right brained" - adds for Vonage, banks, and weight loss programs, but what REALLY catches your attention about this thing is a downloadable client called Windows Live Mail Beta that works quite a bit like Outlook Express.

Now, with ALL these different options (and it look like GMail at least does hide your IP), WHY are you still fooling with Fuse there, Dean?

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"Privacy Compromise"

The Dean wrote an interesting sumamry of my message yesterday about Cincinnati Bell's apparent goofing up of their own email headers.

Well, I don't know if it's a "privacy compromise", per se (many people have the same "house IP #" for their routers and I think Yahoo and AOL thought that many people on Fuse with the same model of router were actually the same computer), but I DO happen to know what brand of wireless router the Dean uses based solely upon the headers of his emails from his Fuse account.

This spam business, by it's very nature, is COMPLICATED, and, unfortunately, the people you end up talking to about it are very often Level 1 or even "Level 0" Help Desk people who, whether they work for Cincinnati Bell, Pomeroy, or the Devil, are making quite often significantly less than people working for WHITE CASTLE and VASTLY less than people waiting tables for someplace that's tipped, like Olive Garden or Applebee's.

That being said, there are three outfits that are "pretty good" at email. They are GMail, Yahoo and, believe it or not, AOL.

They are pretty darn good at communicating with one another, and, in the case of AOL, you can even get your own domain and use IMAP access through Outlook or something of the sort, but that's another topic.

Why are these three so good at email? Becasue their survival depends on luring MILLIONS of people to try to sell them cars and credit cards, and if you want to lure millions of people consistently every day, you better provide a "good email experience".

Minimal spam.

And your emails BETTER get through.

To that end they have come up with tools such as "DomainKeys" and various other things to help in the war against the zombie computers spewing out billions of messages selling penny stocks, but, pretty much, if a "small time player" such as Cincinnati Bell, Time Warner or AT&T want to play in this arena they had BETTER start paying attention to the big players because, after all, your puny $45/mo. or whatthehellever is no match for the HORRENDOUS amounts of money the credit card and auto companies will pay Yahoo, Google, and AOL for a few microseconds of your attention ...

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Cincinnati Bell Strikes Again

Apparently about a week and a half ago, John Matarese over at WCPO ran a piece about emails from Cincinnati Bell's Fuse and Zoomtown customers getting bounced particularly from Yahoo and AOL. Cincinnati Bell claimed it might have had something to do with changes in spam filtering on either Cincinnati Bell's end or on AOL or Yahoo's end.

Now, Cincinnati's premiere serious blogger, The Dean of Cincinnati, ran a piece ripping Cincinnati Bell a new one, for starters, for not running their own customer service department for their online products.

He followed up that article with another today describing the response he got from Cincinnati Bell.

Apparently they seem to be painting a picture that a great many Fuse accounts were compromised and put into use by various nefarious spammers.

Now, if you are dealing with ANY major online provider and they start spinning a tale about why something associated with their system isn't working, generally speaking they are wetting in your ear and telling you it's raining in the hope that you will go away.

Fortunately, you have John Matarese, The Dean, and, most importantly, THE AXINAR to help you figure out this mess.

Okay, because you can't trust your provider any further than you can throw it in matters such as these, you pretty much have to attempt to launch your own forensic investigation to figure out what is going on.

Now, since this issue involves email, it means you have to try to dissect headers - LOTS of headers.

And email headers are one of the biggest forensic nightmares known to man because SO much of the email protocols currently in use were developed at a time, where, yes, you could actually TRUST the S.O.B. that was trying to send you a message.

Not so any more. Many times email headers are forged three ways to Sunday in order to, yes, try to get you, the utterly uninformed computer users, to buy penis pills and penny stocks.

Now, fortunately there is usually ONE area of an email header that is valid - the IP address of the actual computer that originated the message. Computers that become "zombies" are generally identified quite rapidly based on their IP addresses and added to various "black lists".

SO, I go into my staggering stash of archived emails, and, you know what? - I don't have all that many that originated from Fuse.

I did find one that was fairly recent and I went looking for the originating IP address and - YIKES - the originating IP address was the "house ID" for I believe a Cisco/Linksys wireless router. This is an ID that is, to make a long story short (now don't say "too late", Dean), NEVER supposed to be seen outside of your house.

Now, it's hard to draw any conclusions from a single email, but I'd have to guess that AOL and Yahoo, when they see a "house ID" for a wireless router as the originating IP they go TOTALLY spastic.

SO, yes, I need more examples ...

Do you use a Fuse or Zoomtown address?

If so, I need you to send me a message.

It doesn't have to be fancy - just say "Hi".

Send it to axinar@gmail.com so I can see if there is anything "interesting" about the Fuse/Zoomtown headers currently and then report back to The Dean.

Thank you for your assistance in this incredibly important consumer investigation.

Just got an email from a Fuse address and it does look like Fuse is transmitting the originating IP now.

But please send me more - I need samples ...

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blade Runner (Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition)

Oh, by the way, did you know the Blade Runner Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition is coming out later this year?

The Yahoo Movies site is also running some great clips from the new set including recent interviews with Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Edward James Olmos and several of the other surviving actors from the original production.

Yes, it does look like an ideal Holiday gift for the übergeek in your life ... :)

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Quest For The Ultimate Mobile Blogging Appliance Resumes

For those of you just joining us, early last year my good buddy Nate Livingston of Cincinnati Black Blog fame started making blog entries via a Blackberry device he purchased from Cincinnati Bell Wireless.

Of course, having to keep up, I searched far and wide for the "Ultimate Mobile Blogging Appliance".

The Blackberry devices are of course distinct possibilities. Early last year they didn't have cameras, but now, for instance, you can get a Blackberry 8300 Curve from ME for FREE if you sign up for a new calling plan, and then apparently you get BACK $10.06 after rebates.

Of course I have a really great plan I've been grandfathering on AT&T pretty much forever, so the Blackberry never looked like the best bet in my own case.

What I did eventually find was a really neat phone called the Nokia 6682, which Nate Livingston eventually picked up when Cincinnati Bell Wireless started carrying it.

The Nokia 6682 is a pretty fascinating phone, and will let you get all sorts of intriguing pictures - for instance when Imperial troops invade Riverbend.

Now one of the greatest things on the Nokia 6682 is that there was this really nifty application called "Yahoo Go!" that would let you sync up your cell phone's address book with your address book on Yahoo, plus check your email through the equivalent of a IMAP4 client.

Well, a couple of days ago I get this message from Yahoo that says that the Yahoo Go 1.X application will no longer be supported as of August 27. It is being replaced with Yahoo Go 2.0, which, so far as I can tell, is not going to be ported to the Nokia 6682.

Those rotten S.O.B.'s!

That leaves me quite possibly in the market for a cell phone AGAIN.

The closest thing that AT&T has currently is the Nokia N75, which, yes, you can buy from me FREE with a new calling plan and even get $9.06 BACK after all the rebates.

I went up to the local AT&T outlet this afternoon to take a look at this phone. It's a flipper and has quite a bit bigger keyboard than the 6682, but it does, fortunately, run Opera Mini and Yahoo! Go 2.0.

It does have one reasonably irritating problem though ... the arrow keys are way to close to several other keys.

But, on the positive side, it IS 3G, so it does LIGHTING fast downloads for a cell phone. It also uses the UMTS voice system, which is just a hair clearer than GSM, IMHO.

However, it does look like it has potential. Unfortunately it's flipping APRIL until I'm eligible for an equipment discount from AT&T.

Maybe by that time AT&T will have picked up something REALLY cool - like the 3.2 megapixel Nokia N73 ...

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Some Things Are Just Worth Screaming About

Ballastexistenz posted a quite fascinating entry about a run-in with one of her caregivers where she was in so much pain that she was really having trouble communicating with this person and he told her he would not help her until she was able to "respect" him the way he "respected" her.


Was this poor devil told in advance he was going to work with someone with autism?

I strongly suspect my Old Man of having Asperger's, a very mild form of autism, and if you think you can get it through his skull the finer subtleties of being "respectful" without causing him to stop speaking to people altogether, you've got another think coming.

Come on now, we're talking about Ballastexistenz, presumably in a really stunning amount of pain. If you get anything less than a life-threatening thrashing you should consider yourself fortunate.

It also puts me in mind of some of the run-ins my mother has had with her keepers. Turns out a couple of facilities ago she warned the staff that this one poor old devil was not longer competent to be smoking and, yep, sure enough, after a little while the poor old devil burned himself up.

My mother was livid, furious, and apparently publicly questioning whether the parents of her keepers had ever been married.

They put her in the full-blown looney bin for a couple of weeks after that.

Some of the comments to the Ballastexistenz post are quite fascinating as well - a tale of woman in labor being told to quiet down because she was "being disruptive".

I myself once, while coming out of anesthesia was having a terrible time catching my breath and I started swearing a mile a minute - partially because I was in incredible pain, and also to try to "kick start" my nervous system. I was told that I had to calm down because I was being taken to a recovery room full of "little old ladies".

I find the choice of words in the one comment interesting - "to make it seem like the establishment is maintaining 'control' over the patient".

Oh is that what it is?

Of course if she thinks her caregivers are being injust, Ballastexistenz should try to endure a white collar work environment for even a couple of days. If you're other than terminally stoic in such a setting they think you're "not a team player" or, worse, a "loser".

Another comment on Ballastexistenz posting reads:

Just thinking about and considering that kind of unjust behavior tends to make me want to jump up and down and violently flap my limbs. And cuss, too.

I got so upset, a few years ago, at an injustice I’d heard about on the radio, that I jumped all over the room I was in, and came down wrong on one foot and hurt (not quite sprained) an ankle.

And I don’t think I’m all that autistic.

Well, apparently there must be SOMETHING wrong with you.

In this culture, if ANYTHING moves you to getting upset, it seems that people thing you're "damaged goods" of some sort ...

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Royal Navy Planning Nimitz-scale Aircraft Carriers

Maybe Denmark Vesey is right that the Windsors are part of the Illuminati.

Turns out that the UK Royal Navy is planning the contruction of two Nimitz-scale aircraft carriers.

These carriers are to be called HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

They are scheduled to enter service in 2014 and 2016 and will be loaded to your actual brim with F-35B fighters and appear to have enough firepower to cause a great number of people a SERIOUS problem.

On the other hand, when various "hot spots" in the world flair up there will be some ships other than the Roosevelt, the Eisenhower, and the Reagan to clean things up ...

Denmark Vesey Discovers Anti-Zionist Jews

Denmark Vesey made a rather fascinating post today bringing up one of the most fascinating phenomenon I have encountered in my studies of Judaism - the anti-Zionist Jews.

Yes, my friends, there are überfrum Jews out there who actually do not believe that the State of Israel should exist.

As I understand it, this is due to purely theological grounds. According to very strict interpretations of Torah, it is only the place of the Messiah to re-establish the State of Israel.

However, also as I understand it, many Jews in the world lean more towards the secular. As I understand it, many no longer believe in a personal Messiah but rather believe in a "Messianic Age" that we all have a duty to help bring about.

I think a great many other Jews over the last couple of centuries also reasoned that if they didn't build a homeland for themselves, their extinction was just around the corner.

Yes, technically the State of Israel may be treife.

But, as Rabbi Gary Zola of Hebrew Union College once expained to me, when your life is at stake you can violate each and every one of the 613 mitzvot with the exception of three - murder, idolatry, and a quite fascinating list of sexual deviations.

Somehow I don't think founding the State of Israel is one of those three ...

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Best Blog Sighting In A Long Time

My mother's sister used to refer to certain people as "monied", and usually she didn't mean it as a compliment.

I borrowed the phrase to refer to those certain elite members of our society who yield a disproportionate amount of power and influence. I called them "The Monied Elite".

Works in print, but doesn't trip off the tongue.

I found out there is another phrase that's currently in use that is easier to pronounce - "Power Elite".

Of course I started doing some research into this phrase and I started running into some other names that deserve some investigation - "Shadow Government", "Learned Elders of Zion", "Trilateral Commission" and, yes, "Illuminati". All these names of course refer to something even beyond the Power Elite - to a tiny, tiny group of individuals who ultimately dispatch orders to the Power Elite and ultimately make all our lives miserable. It was on a search for the Illuminati that I stumbled across Denmark Vesey.

Apparently he is an African-American gentleman who fingers the Illuminati as the Jesuits, the Rothschilds, the Rockefellers and the Windsors.

Interesting combination.

But, the more I think about it the more I'm beginning to suspect that, somwhere out there, in way more seclusion than Osama bin Laden, is one excruciatingly secretive "Imperious Leader" who's interested in money, power, and world domination, but doesn't want any recognition at all.

But, that's a topic that will take some considerable time to explore.

Back to Mr. Vesey ... :)

Anyone who spends his time bashing the Federal Reserve and posting picture after picture of semi-nude black women is okay in my book ... :)

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Pale Blue Dot" - A Fan Perspective

I shutter to think at the amount of work that must have gone into this.

A fan calling himself "Kasranov" from Japan has been working on a project starting from the CASSETTE tracks of the audio book of Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot and exploring what a television series based on the book might have looked like ...


Follow The Buck

Some of my favorite people are the conspiracy theorists.

Sometimes I'm not entirely sure where they're coming from, but, if I understand them correctly, one of their basic ideas is that some tiny group of very powerful people in the world meets somewhere between once a month and once a year and makes all the important political and economic decisions and then these edicts are disseminated through the Power Elite and then onto the people.

I've often wondered how much substance these ideas have, but, having listened to more than my fair share of Power Elite rhetoric, I actually have entertained the notion that there may, in fact, somewhere out there, be not just a small group of people making all the major decisions, but, in fact, just a single human being calling all the shots.

Occasionally I have tried to follow the threads of information and even speculation to find this person - this elusive "Dark Leader Of The Earth".

Very often people of good conscience attribute the ills of the world to the "corporations" and the "CEO's". Well, of course Michael Moore once made a movie called Roger & Me where Michael Moore seemed to be laying the blame for the woes of laid off auto workers in Flint, Michigan right at the feet of the then CEO of General Motors.

Well, I once had a conversation with a Power Elite about this film and the Power Elite pretty much said, "I HATE Michael Moore. Doesn't he know that a CEO is accountable to a board of directors?"

Indeed, as most American public companies are set up, the CEO reports to the board of directors and the board of directors are ultimately accountable to the shareholders of that company.

Now, we often think of "shareholders" as perhaps employees who have accumulated shares over the years, but, fortunately, in the case of publicly traded companies, the major shareholders of companies is publicly available information, and certain "shareholders" keep popping up over and over again.

Take for instance the major managed health players. An interesting name on the list of Top Institutional Holders for each of these companies - Humana, Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Wellpoint is Barclays, and Barclays is a GINORMOUS bank based in England.

Now, what's a little scary is this story making the rounds in tomorrow morning's Guardian that Barclays is selling part of itself to the governments of China and Singapore so it can take over a Dutch company called ABN Amro.

Uh oh.

If I'm following the buck here properly, that will mean that the Chinese government will have a significant ownership interest in all our major health insurance companies.

And of course the Chinese have recently de-socialized their health care system and have a reputation for being one of the most brutal countries on Earth in that area.

You see, hypothetically, in the United States if you don't have insurance and you get mangled in a car accident or something of the sort, they'll take you to UC Medical Center and they'll patch you up, but they'll send you a bill for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that they will either hound you over for life or use to force you into bankrupcy.

Not so in China.

No matter how sick you are ...

No matter how mangled you are ...

No matter how pitiful you are ...

They will ask for payment UP FRONT and if you don't have it they will quite literally leave you to die in agony.

Is this what's going on?

Is the Trilateral Commission, the Illuminati, and, yes, even the Learned Elders of Zion - the tiny secret groups purported to control all our lives - actually just a single person?

And is that person ... Chinese????

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For those of you just joining us, some explanation of my frequent use of the word "IMPORT" is in order.

You see, Axinar's was largely started in response to several blogs by a certain Indian-Malaysian friend of mine. Now, despite being very bright and an excellent writer, this friend of mine would spend her blogging hours prattling on about some sort of chocolate drink called "Milo" and stringing hundreds of pronouns together attempting to express her displeasure with being forced to continue to breathe because some goofnozzle over there in Malaysia was no longer expressing his undying love and affection for her or something of the sort.

I said, "Good God, woman, you need to write about something of some IMPORT!"

She said, "Where did that come from?"

Well, The Axinar, being the ultimate pack-rat, has actually SAVED and painstakingly copied to CD the original 1/4" reel-to-reel audio tapes that my grandparents and parents exchanged back in 1965 when my parents were stationed in the Panama Canal Zone.

Apparently my grandmother was prattling on about the inanities of the day and my grandfather was pitching around in the background as if he had something else to say:

I guess you just had to know my grandfather ... :)


"When a Michael Moore film addresses an issue of great import ..."

"When a Michael Moore film addresses an issue of great import - say gun violence or a war based on falsehoods, hype and hysteria - the spin-daddies seek to make the issue into Michael Moore."

"The most devastating point made by "Sicko" is how deeply the insurance and pharmaceutical industries have sunk their claws into our lawmaking process through campaign largess and back-scratching patronage."

- John Young of the Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald in a piece entitled "Film makes point most would like to ignore"

A guy can't be all bad who knows how to properly utilize the word "IMPORT" ... :)

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Health Care And Profit Motive Don't Mix

Sometimes I have found myself wondering just how it is that the Monied Elite's obsession with profit came to so thoroughly screw up the access to health care in this country.

Part of the problem, I believe, has to do with the fact that over the last couple of decade many insurance companies have changed from "mutual" companies, where ownership was spread across the policyholders, to stock companies, where shares are traded on the open market.

Now, apparently the investors of public companies are brutal beyond recognition and often punish a company brutally not for overall profit or anything else that makes any sense, but rather over excruciatingly obscure factors collectively referred to as "metrics".

Case in point is a ginormous health insurance company called UnitedHealth that reported earnings last week. Profits were way up, but, as reported by Melissa Davis at TheStreet.com, one particular metric called "commercial MCR" - "medical cost ratio" - showed signs of deterioration and UnitedHealth's stock was pummelled as a result.

The "Medical Cost Ratio" is the ratio of the amount of premiums collected to the amount of medical bills paid.

Now, what's going on here is that because these insurance companies have been moved onto the public stock market, they are being measured as if they are a company selling marshmallows or something of the sort. You see, if the price of a raw ingredient, like sugar, is going up for the a publicly traded marshmallow company and they are unable to raise the prices for the finished marshmallows, mutual fund companies and large investors will freak out and dump the stock of the marshmallow company.

Similarly, if people - [[gasp]] - get sick and have to see a doctor or get some sort of procedure, this is similar to the "raw materials" of the insurance company going up in an environment where it is often difficult to raise premiums.

Net result? The insurance companies try to do precisely the same thing that the marshmallow company would do. The marshmallow company, for instance, might try to use cheaper corn syrup sweetener rather than sugar or try to get sugar from a cheaper country.

Only problem is of course that, in many cases, there are no cheaper suppliers of health care. Once an insurance company drops what it will pay below a certain level, whole classes of doctors will simply refuse to supply to that insurance company - for instance Bridgepointe's recent decision to drop out of the Anthem / Wellpoint network.

Michael Moore, although obviously a little weak on details, is pretty dead on the big picture.

Health care shouldn't be treated like cars or computers or self-sealing stem-bolts. In their distaste for "utilization" and "medical cost ratios", the Monied Elite are causing the suffering and destruction of hundreds of millions of people.

We must find another way ...

UnitedHealth investors to focus on cost measure - Marketwatch
Healthcare vs. the Profit Principle - The Nation


Thursday, July 19, 2007

CNN On How To Battle Your Insurance Company - But Why?

CNN is running an interesting piece about Bailey Robinson, a child with the same disease as the little boy in Lorenzo's Oil and how his family ran up $200,000 in medical bills trying to treat him all the while having their insurance company respond with denial after denial afer denial.

CNN posted several tips on how to fight your insurance company in such circumstances - getting help from your doctor's office and/or your employer's benefits office; appealing over and over and over again; using the right words as if you've been doing medical coding for a living for the last 20 years; asking your doctor to refile the paperwork slightly differently; and suing the bastards.

My question - and I believe the question that Michael Moore was ultimately asking in Sicko - is WHY do we put sick people and families with sick children through all this? WHY should it be a toe-to-toe slugging match to get desperately needed care? How have we allowed ourselves to be so callous to treat people so badly just because they happen to have conditions that might make someone's bottom line look bad?

When you're sick, when a member of your family is sick, you should be able to concentrate on one thing and one thing only - getting better. You shouldn't have to worry about how you're going to drag your mangled body and/or mind into the cubicle every day just so you can keep your increasingly worthless insurance. And you certainly shouldn't have to think about having to make phone call after phone call and writing letter after letter to try to get paid for coverage that you thought you were going to get when you settled for that mind-numbing job with "good benefits" when you could have been off starting a business or doing something else of some IMPORT ...


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hagit Limor Discovers Anthem Is Cheap

My good buddy Hagit Limor of Channel 9's I-Team has just discovered [[GASP]] - Anthem doesn't want to pay for mental health care.

As a matter of fact, for a very long time they outsourced their mental health administration to a company called "Magellan". Earlier this year they decided to take administration of their mental health benefits in-house and, as Hagit Limor discovered, right about the same time Anthem decided to cut what they will pay mental health providers 15-20%.

The net result was that what few therapists and psychiatrists that were still on Anthem jumped ship - including a whopper - Bridgepointe.

Yes, increasingly, if you or any of your dependents is in need of mental health care you're going to have to go out-of-network and pay through the nose.

For all of you who are criticizing Michael Moore's Sicko for not properly documenting the wait times that some Canadians experience for some procedures, pay attention.

There are medical queues right here in Cincinnati.

AND, even if you HAVE "good insurance" sometimes you are talking about co-pays in the $25 - $40/hr range and, particularly when you are getting established with a psychiatrist or therapist, you can sometimes be in several times a WEEK. It doesn't take very long at that rate to wind up on the doorstep of a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 filing.

At very least the Channel 9 story has prompted Hamilton County to investigate if Anthem's actions constitute a breach of contract.


It's about time someone takes on those rotten ...

If you know of any other stories of abuses by insurance companies (or any other mega-corporations for that matter), please drop me a note at axinar@gmail.com or leave a message on The Gripe Line: +1 (513) 322-2452.

Uninsured need attention, too - MichaelMoore.com

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Complete Series

Not only do you need to buy Star Trek: The Next Generation - Complete Series, but you need to buy it from ME ... :)

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Marina Sirtis Interview on "Your Greek News"

Yamato: The Last Battle (Otoko-tachi no Yamato)

WHY has this movie never been released in the US??

Does Hollywood not have Clue One about the massive number of rabid Space Battleship Yamato / Star Blazers fans in this country???

To say nothing of the World War II buffs ...


Monday, July 16, 2007

Star Trek Bring Back Kirk Trailer II

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers) Theme Performed LIVE by Isao Sasaki

The best thing about the Japanese is that they take their science fiction SERIOUSLY ... :)

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Imperial Troops Invade Riverbend!

I'm not making this stuff up folks ...

Tonight the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra did a tribute to the film music of John Williams. It was similar to the exclusively Star Wars music presentation they did a couple of years with some of the May Festival Chorus doing "Kora Ratama" and the piece from the Obi Wan / Anakin duel at the tail end of Revenge of the Sith.

However, this time they did pieces from several other films scored by John Williams including Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Superman.

The conductor, Erich Kunzel, as also presented with a framed set of Star Wars commemorative stamps by local Postal Service representatives.

Of course there were Jedi all over the place as well as a MASSIVE invasion of Imperial troops - storm troopers, Endor troopers, TIE-fighter pilots, and of course Darth Vader himself.

Of course the actor playing Vader was a good head-and-a-half taller than the actor playing Anakin, but, I suppose there's only so much you can do at short notice.

I thought the show from a couple of years ago might have been the last time we saw such an assemblage of Star Wars characters in the area, but perhaps it's going to be a regular thing.

Of course I wonder if they are going to do a Star Trek concert any time in the near future ... :)

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Friday, July 13, 2007

The People Vs. The HMO's

There's quite a lively discussion going on over on The Cincinnati Beacon about Michael Moore's Sicko and the state of medical care in the developed world in general.

The anecdotes of course are flying full force with one young lady describing a presumably typical situation with a a family in Canada sick child being taken care of for free and a family in the United States with a sick child being financially ruined due to a "$10/hr HMO customer service rep".

Don't EVER think of the person responsible for health care in the United States as being the fault of the $10/hr customer service representative that you talk to on the telephone.

The people responsible for the lack of health care in this country are boards of directors and executives who make amounts of money that would shock you and who lead lifestyles that would cause you to never stop throwing up if you knew about them.

But, ultimately, I think Michael Moore is right that the ultimate responsible entity for the United States being the last nation in the western world without universal health care is we, the people.

You see, the boards of directors and the executives that make such sickeningly large amounts of money are TOTALLY dependent on us. If we don't buy their products and borrow their money, they are just out of luck.

But, no, we don't have a spine.

We don't take to the streets.

We don't go on general strikes.

We don't do ANYTHING to effectively get the message across that we're literally sick and tired and that we're not going to take it any more - at least not on this issue of whether or not we actually find it acceptable to be forced into financial ruin to provide proper care for one's children.

In doing some more research on this issue, I have found out that, thank goodness, there are at least FOUR members of the House of Representatives who have grown a pair on this issue - John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott and Donna Christensen. They have introduced a bill called H.R. 676 that would expand the current Medicare system to cover EVERYONE.

Now, if I were you, not only would I start calling my US House member and insisting that they help this bill pass, but I would start surfing the Campaign Finance Database, finding out who is bankrolling my local representative, and, as much as possible, REFUSING TO DO BUSINESS with any person or entity who has financed my representative's campaigns until H.R. 676 is passed into law.

Collectively I honestly believe we can do this.

If only we have the will.

If only we truly do believe that we shouldn't have to take care of our children through the bacnkruptcy courts.

Or ... worse yet ... sit back and watch them die because some executive might not get a fifth vacation to Europe that year ...

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Blogging About Obi Ken

Of course I'm at somewhat of a loss to know exactly where to start on this one, but last week I get this phone call from my estimable padawan, Obi Ken, who tells me, if I understand it correctly, that he was suspended from his job at Kroger for narcing on a co-worker or two for having an affair of some sort.

Of course, despite many years of my sage advise, Obi Ken (who goes by KenDiesel on most of the sites he frequents) has never quite gotten this notion that what goes down in the storeroom STAYS in the storeroom.

He did not even learn from my own experience that if you make the mistake of opening up a thread about the romantic exploits of a certain television reporter clearly in the public eye that certain people clearly NOT in the public eye who may or may not have been involved with said television reporter can go full-bore off the handle and threaten to sue you down to your shorts and ultimately cause you to completely restart your blog.

Obi Ken has also apparently not kept up with the news that what you write on MySpace in particular can get you fired. Among a great many other incidents, apparently a supervisor at an Olive Garden in Florida was fired after posting photos of herself, her daughter and other restaurant employees hoisting empty beer bottles. The Olive Garden claimed that the photos could "damage the company's brand".

Yes, I, for one, am shocked senseless that the wait staff at Olive Garden are not all strict teetotalers. There are wait staff who DRINK?? How horrid! I would have never suspected such a thing. Why, next thing you know there will be wait staff puking on me at wedding receptions and getting SO f*cking beligerently drunk I'm having to put them out my car in the middle of the night ... but that's another story.

No, if I had to guess what happened in Obi Ken's case, it's that he put them in mind of our favorite late Virginia Tech student.

Yes, the Mundanes simply cannot tell the difference between the overly bright, creative and hopelessly frustrated who occasionally go off on 30-minute expletive-laced rants about how disgusted they are with most of the people on this planet, and, yes, the truly disturbed who go off on on 30-minute expletive-laced rants about how disgusted they are with most of the people on this planet and then try to KILL AS MANY PEOPLE AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN.

So, on this particular one, maybe the Mundanes do have some cause for concern. Perhaps one day someone will be able to figure out a way to figure out which people simply have a need to vent from time to time, and which are truly dangerous.

However, actually, I am beginning to wonder, if one in fact IS publishing something that is, in fact, TRUE about someone, in the public eye or otherwise, who is whoring around, if, perhaps, to protect the overall public interest, if such communication should not only be allowed, but actually ENCOURAGED ...

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Brings A Tear To Me Eye ...


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Lauren Turner Needs To Shut The Hell Up

Due to circumstances, yes, partially due to medical concerns, pretty much all of the editorial content has had to cease on "The Axinar Blog".

However, I just could not sit silent after reading this heaping pile of tripe by someone named Lauren Turner, claiming to be an "Account Planner" for "Health" at Google.

Basically she seems to be trying to sell ads to health industry players to defend themselves against Michael Moore's new movie Sicko.

I saw Sicko last night.

Yes, it is a bit one sided.

Yes, it is a bit sensationalized.

Yes, it may even bend exact facts in certain places.

But it's overall message is dead on.

And it doesn't just apply to health care.

The "Monied Elite", the "Powers That Be", that tiny handful of individuals that hold so much power on this planet don't give a damn about anything but their personal well being and bottom lines.

I should know.

I have spent ALOT of time with these people.

To tell you how sick some of them are, I have heard then say such things as, when actually starting to have a thought about how their actions might affect others, "Now how does this affect ME?"

There's a name for the condition that afflicts so many of the people in positions of control of the world economy:

Psychopathy - a pathological inability to have the slightest bit of empathy or conscience and a penchant for disgustingly manipulative behavior.

And how do we cure this condition that so warps the minds and behavior of our keepers?

I haven't the foggiest ...

But I think Michael Moore is on the right track - the French seem to have the guts to march in the streets by the millions when injustice is heaped upon them.

Perhaps one day if we Americans grow the pair necessary to take to the streets and say we're sick and tired and we're not going to take it any more we can drive the "sickos" from the board rooms and the government entities and every place else from which they shower misery upon the people of the world ...

Michael Moore's SiCKO - Honest Medicine

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