Flashback: “19” by Paul Hardcastle

With a new year with a “19” at the end of it nearly upon us – I thought this would be the perfect song to wrap 2018 up.

The song was a major hit in 1985 in most of Europe, going to #15 in the Billboard charts during the summer here in the United States. The documentary narrator is Peter Thomas, but perhaps more notably, the audio of news stories comes from the late ABC newsman Frank Reynolds – famous for his tense reactions to Ronald Reagan’s assassination attempt in 1981.

Getting Wise To The Scam

Scambaiting – or, the art of baiting foreign phone scammers, is becoming a bit of a thing on my radar as of late.

The idea here is to consume as much time of the scammers as humanly possible so that it takes away from the resources of these call centers so that they cannot call their prey – usually those not knowledgeable enough to know these scams. For instance, one way to “scam bait” them is to act totally submissive but to give them information that is false – and to stay on the phone with them as long as it takes for them to figure it out.

One of the finer practitioners of this art is a young man with the moniker on YouTube of “The Hoax Hotel.” Here, he takes the name of Cosmo Kramer (foreigners having, for the most part, no idea Cosmo is a fictional personality from a 1990’s comedy on American TV) and gets a call from a tech support scam runner – telling Hoax to stop calling.

After Christmas Thoughts

We say goodbye to Kris Kringle and our friends up in the North Pole for another year. I always seem a bit melancholy on Christmas Night. We (the collective we) put all of this effort into making Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the two most special days of the year – but every year as these days pass, and I wonder why can’t every day be like these two days.

Just remember as we move ahead to what’s appearing to be a shaky 2019 that we’re all in this together. That’s all I ask. If somebody needs something, and if your conscious is telling you shouldn’t accommodate someone – please do. Most times, you won’t regret it.

There was an NFL game on Christmas Eve and several NBA games on Christmas Day. It might shock most of you who know me to tell you that unless the Bucs are playing, I have no enthusiasm in a Christmas Eve or Day game. None. I’d love to see no sporting contests on Christmas at all. Take the time to re-connect with your families or friends.

I feel the same way about cable news – I was shocked to see that those outlets were reporting live news yesterday as if there was any. Do we have to fight about politics on Christmas – the day of peace on Earth, and good will to men? (And women too.) I just find that sickening.

All the Christmas hits on the Billboard Hot 100 this year screams one fact – America misses its good old days. Hurry back Christmas, our country needs you sooner rather than later.

Flashback: “Let It Snow” by Dean Martin

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever had a current Top 40 hit as a Flashback, but the holiday season (and how popular Christmas songs are this year on the Billboard charts) provided such an opportunity.

Recorded in 1959, the song is currently #32 on the Billboard charts as of this week (the week ending December 22, 2018 – though Billboard ordinarily publishes the chart positions the Wednesday prior). It’s the first Hot 100 song for Martin since 1969, ending over a 49-year gap, and his first Top 40 hit since 1967.

Merry Christmas, everybody. I’ll be back with a post on Christmas Eve day.

Wheel Of Scamsters

Since we are smack dab into the holiday season – the number of scam phone calls have risen. While I’m at it – a special “thank you” to the local phone company (Frontier) who doesn’t make it all that easy to block said calls.

My current thinking (which has changed frequently with time, I admit) when it comes to these scammers is that avoiding them does nothing. The two types of calls I frequently get two sorts of solicitations: so-called charitable organizations and the credit rate improvement people.

The charitable organizations seem to use the same tactic of hiding behind recordings these days. Here, you’re forced to make a decision over a small period of time on an organization you’ve probably never heard of. Even some of the better foundations out there are kind of sketchy in my worldview, so a company that no one knows about is probably remarkably dicey. But if you decline any one specific offer – another organization comes along to make the same pitch.

Then there are the credit scammers. You can tell who they are because the names they use sound like a branch of a larger organization – but they never state what the larger structure is because there is no such larger company in existence. For example, they say they are Cardholder Service, Card Services, and so on. They always want data it would seem they would already have if they were actually legitimate, like your credit cards and their numbers. Needless to say, don’t give personal information to these thugs. If they were legitimate, they wouldn’t be asking for such info over the phone – they’d do it by non-electronic mail. And again, decline one offer – another number seems to sprout up within a few days. Another spoke of the same wheel.

A couple of days ago, I received a call from one of the credit scammers who has been calling for months on end. I take great pride in making them hang up with just two words. No, I didn’t use two words with anything abusive in them, like something with “You” on the end of it.

“How’s India?” I asked. The caller instantly tapped out. If you catch them in a lie, they always seem to do that. I figure sooner or later, all of these miscreants will realize I am on to them – that’s why I stand my telephonic ground.

Just Another Game Of Chicken

As some as you may have seen in the news, there’s a bit of political brawl going on this holiday season. The US government, in a financial sense, is scheduled to shut down at midnight on Friday – unless a deal can be reached before then. If you work for the government in different (but not all) capacities, you may be getting furloughed (suspended for employment) over the holidays.

The issue this time (and the issues frequently change with time as to way government budgets should be handled) is the funding of a wall at the US-Mexico border. President Trump wants it, but the top-ranking Democratic leadership does not. Trump, Senate leader Chuck Schumer, and House leader Nancy Pelosi had a now infamous fracas at the Oval Office of the White House last week which seemed to settle nothing.

The problem is that politicians, regardless of political affiliation, have been all over the place regarding the immigration problem going back a few decades. I also tend to think that there’s some institutional jealousy also at play here and that the career politicians don’t want a Donald Trump solving a problem some recent-era Presidents such as Reagan or Clinton couldn’t solve.

Should there be a process and rules? Yes.

Should American politicians be pushing the rights of foreigners before the American people? In my worldview, no.

On this issue, President Trump is accurate in my opinion – but the stakes for caving in are VERY high, and I don’t see the matter reaching resolution anytime soon. With my luck, it probably happens by the time I post this on December 19th.

Audio Slice #10: A Brief History Of The Bucs

Music track used was: “All That” from Bensound.com.

EDIT, 12:20 pm ET, 12/17/2018: I erroneously say in this entry that the Bucs-Eagles 1979 playoff game was played on December 30th. I was off one day – it was played Saturday, December 29th.

EDIT, 4:46 pm ET, 12/17/2018: I also goofed giving out the URL to this blog, but hey – you’re here, right? Audio was fixed to reflect the correct address a bit later.

In The News, There Are Bloopers

We’ve entered that time of year where these posts get a little less serious.

Trolling good old YouTube for some news bloopers, I found this batch. Some of the blooper material can be suggestive in the words uttered and deeds done – but I thought all of you could use a laugh with the holiday season fastly approaching.

Flashback: “Let Me In” by The Sensations

The last couple of Sundays watching the NFL games on the FOX network, I’ve seen this Cadillac commercial that had this song I didn’t recognize. I tend to think I’m pretty good at songs from the post-Beatles era onward. If I heard a few notes of any song, I could reasonably tell you the title and artist relatively quickly.

But this commercial with the song with the “wee-oo” in it – that stumped me, and I’m lucky enough not get stumped that often. Turns out that this song was a #4 hit for The Sensations back in 1962, and was covered by Bonnie Raitt in 1973.