Thursday, September 26, 2013

Here's What I'm Thinking...

Can we make something like this happen?

Letter of Declination of Health Insurance
    I, Nathan Joel Crawford, being of sound mind and body, do formally decline any and all publicly funded health insurance and assistance on the basis that I refuse to be a tax burden for other citizens of The United States of America.

With this declination, I understand that I may be turned away from any hospital, doctor, or clinic if I have no way to pay for services out of pocket. With my refusal of health insurance, and my refusal to pay the penalty, I hereby waive any, and all, taxpayer assistance including, but not limited to, Social Security and Disability Income, Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, and local government health assistance.

Nathan Joel Crawford

Any lawyers that would like to shore this up a little, please feel free to comment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Dreaded "Friend Zone" Dun-dun-duuuuun!

We all know what the "Friend Zone" is. It's that one special place where the person you want to pursue, "doesn't feel the same as you," "you're too good of a friend," or, "you're more like a sibling." Those phrases cut to the quick everyone who's ever heard them and understands the undertones.

So, what does the "Friend Zone" entail, exactly? Well, all of the above statements mean the same thing. You're a fill-in. You're the person to go to for what isn't being given in that person's actual relationship, be it emotional support or what have you. Men and women both can be placed in the "Friend Zone", and usually neither sex really likes it all that much.
It's because it's not a platonic relationship, as the name might imply, anymore than it is a sexual or romantic relationship. It is a one sided, "I get what I want, but you don't get what you want," type of relationship.

Don't get me wrong, those that want a romantic or sexual relationship aren't only wanting sex. They want companionship and intimacy on many levels.
So, why does this zone exist? It mostly boils down to smell. More specifically, the smell of pheromones. See, procreation is the main drive behind sexual relationships. Scent plays a huge role in the survival of any species on the planet. Even us. So, it's natural that certain smells attract us to a potential mate.

On the other hand, scents can also detract us from "bad stock". Our sense of smell guides us to the most attractive genetic makeup we're around. Usually, it's someone that has a different Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) than them. MHCs determine the susceptibility to an autoimmune disease. The more dissimilar MHCs from one partner compared to the other, the greater diversity of antigen presentation in their offspring. This makes for more healthy and resilient offspring and a stronger chance at survival. It also serves as an indicator of close genetic ties.

Which brings us to the next point: People are less attracted to personalities than they are physical traits, including smell. While a good personality is important in romantic relationships as it can add the high of the dopamine secretions your body generates when it's happy, it's not the show stopper most think it of. Here's the tricky bit. Guys often wonder, "Why is she with the guy that treats her so badly, when she knows I'd treat her like she wants to be treated by him?" The reason is MHCs. Blame them. One of five factors can sabotage your chances.

The first is, you're not clean enough. The second is, you're wearing too much cologne or other smelly chemicals. The third factor can be the similarities between your chemical makeup and your potential partner. Number four, the other suitor is masking his natural smell with artificial pheromones to make him more appealing, or just covering his up. The last, and most damaging to your cause, is he is her chemical opposite. In this case, opposites are the strongest attraction.

So, how does all this biochemistry relate to the "Friend Zone"? Simple, you're in the "Friend Zone" because you smell funny. Really.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Nonsensical Anti-Piracy Laws

We've all seen the standard FBI Warning when we first pop in a DVD. It's a legal disclaimer about how it's against federal law to copy and distribute that material. Here it is just in case you've lived under a rock for the past 30 or so years:

Now, here's where things get a little fuzzy. Under federal law, it is unlawful to copy and distribute copyrighted work. Right, we all get that. No problem. However, the government, the RIAA, and the MPAA say it's not infringement for a person to purchase a DVD and allow anyone to borrow that DVD for an indetermined period of time. I know what you're thinking, "Well, duh. They're only borrowing it, not copying it." This is true, but here's the rub: Isn't uploading a DVD to the internet and allowing anyone to either download it or stream it, without monetary gain, the exact same thing as letting them borrow it?

Here's my reasoning. You can allow that person to come over to your house anytime they like and watch that movie, or allow them to borrow it for an indefinite period of time. You can also watch it with them at the same time. When someone downloads a video or DVD, the only factor that changed was the multiplication of the product. I guess what I'm asking is, why is merely copying a disc an infringement of the law?

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Even in today's law, using the VHS cassette to record a television broadcast is illegal, yet we have TiVo that allows you to do the same thing and it is legal as long as you don't put it on your computer. Copying material off the airwaves is legal with one device, but illegal if using two different devices, e.g. VHS or computers.

These industries have been touting their reasoning as, "losing profits," but the exact opposite has been evident. It's an argument that has been processed and refined for over a century. In 1906, John Phillip Sousa wrote an article titled "The Menace of Mechanical Music". He was concerned that people would stop going to see his live performances in favor of records. Yet, they didn't. They kept going to live performances because of the enjoyment of going out.

Then we had cassette tapes that we could use to record our favorite songs off the radio. Cassette tapes were also, "Going to destroy the music industry." Quite the opposite was true, however. The advent of the cassette tape increased sales of music, and part of that was because people recorded off the radio. People would hear a new song or artist on the radio, record the song, and play it over again until finally, they would give in and buy the entire album.

A more recent entrepreneur got in to this way of thinking, as well. In 1976, a young Bill Gates wrote an open letter to hobbyists using copied software that he had exclusive rights to. Bill's tone has changed over the past few decades. In fact, he was quoted in 1998 as saying, "As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours."

This new way of thinking is slowly beginning to sink in to some in the entertainment industries. Piracy, in this case copyright infringement, is an invaluable tool for market insight. It's basically free market research and advertising. Producers can see what is being downloaded the most and create groups that would appeal to the masses. Advertisers save money since "piracy" is the same, if not better than word of mouth advertising.

So, why then are these organizations so adamant on prosecuting sites like The Pirate Bay if they ultimately help the industries? It's simple, actually. The music, television, movie, and to a lesser extent these days, the software industries rely on an outdated and wasteful business model. Remember those records, 8-tracks, audio cassettes, and VHS cassettes? What about CDs? How lame was it to have to purchase the entire disc to get the one or two good songs you wanted?

Losing the antiquated distribution of these items means an increase in profits, yet the industries refuse to go along with it. They're holding on to old ideas that don't work well anymore. You have to wonder, even just a little, why would they do this?

I hope I made a tad bit of sense in this article, or at the very least sparked a curiosity in someone that might be able to change and challenge laws that negatively impact citizens that share files.


Friday, December 23, 2011

'Tis the Season

Lights. Tinsel. Garland. Presents around the tree. The Christmas season is upon us once more. Yet, as the years go by, it just seems like every other day. Just an average day where something is supposed to happen.

What happened to that little boy that couldn't sleep the night before Christmas? The one that would be up before everyone else, getting coffee made, toast in the toaster, butter and jelly on the counter, just waiting for the clock to chime seven. I haven't seen him in decades.

Sometimes, it feels so futile. Never anyone that wants to spend the important times with you. Never anyone that can find an interest in things you do. Never anyone to share life with. When will it change? Life is supposed to be a journey that is shared between friends and family. Yet, everyone keeps their distance. Sure, they might humor you for a few weeks, but it never lasts.

I want to feel the excitement I once felt for holidays. Dressing up for Halloween with friends. Having a family of my own to give thanks for on Thanksgiving. Being happy on Christmas. Sharing a home cooked dinner with someone special on Valentine's Day.

It's been too long.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Frontier Communications

I just wanted to show everyone a comment made on a website I recently visited from an employee of Frontier Communications. In their letter, they've expressed the same issues and concerns we, as customers, have brought up this past year or so.

I don't know if you are interested in this but it’s worth a try. I work for a major well known utility company and I feel ethically compelled to inform someone that there are practices within my corporation that are being done without the consideration for the consumer. My employment there has extended well over 3 years now and I have been turning a blind eye to what they call customer service. I believe that I have the duty to expose some of these inner workings to the public. I work for Frontier Communications.
I do not want to be named nor am I going to divulge any names of my fellow employees. I will give detail in some of the misinformation given to customer, issues with systems that cause billing problems, and a few other known issues that upper management overlook. The biggest issue we are experiencing right now is appalling. The ‘blackout period’ and the result of it is causing chaos. Recently there were a few groups of the employees that were force fed training on the new Frontier’s systems. It was crammed in an eight day course. The majority of the time the training systems were down, a handful of subject learning material & systems were over looked-stating we’ll get how to do it on the floor. Anxiety and panic swept the call center, worried faces riddled with anger and frustration stood out everywhere. All accept the higher management. They kept saying, ‘don’t worry you guys will be ok’ or ‘we have to get this call volume down’. But the statement that never failed was, ‘don’t forget that you need to offer a wide array of services on every call. That’s your job.’ Regardless if a customer is calling in because she/he cannot afford their services as it is we are required to up sale them.
I was employed with Verizon prior to the acquisition to Frontier. It was an exciting day for us because we felt like the iron hand was being lifted. But to our dismay the same type of mentality still existed. Also the changes FTR made caused a lot of panic as well. We are trained for sales 1st rather than customer service even though the values are People, Product, and Profit. Customer may call in with an major issue even at times irritate and frustrated-we are excepted to entice them to purchase an additional product that may or may not work. I will enlighten you on that subject-our ‘network congestion’ issue with HSI has caused a tremendous volume of calls to the call centers and tech support. There were periods were the handling time for these departments exceeded 30 minutes and even at times close to an hour. Numerous customers within the 13 states acquired have experienced an issue that was coined ‘network congestion’. These issues caused a great deal of frustrated customers calling in about their HSI service dropping. Some of them experience up and down periods over a few months. I even witnessed some customers that were out for weeks at a time.
How do you sell a product that is not reliable? Netflix made the comment that Frontier has one of the worst HSI service in the nation. Some of us here feel guilty when we sell certain products because we know it may or may not work sometimes. The newest greatest selling tool we have for HSI now is we have to still sell it even though it may or may not be available in their area. Customers call in livid and frustrated because they were told they can get a service and now they are being told their area is not available for that upgrade to HSI quite yet.
Another odd situation we have going on right now is our new phone systems are voice over IP. We are the phone company right? Then why are we using that type of system? Numerous issues are going on-dropped calls, noise one the line, unable to fully understand what the customer is saying & vice versa, and the total system freezing up while on a call. There are some of us who just have been sitting around because we are unable to access anything. One rep became concerned because their training for the phone systems consisted of a learning document they were given minutes before they actually used the new phone systems. A coach was made aware of her concerned and his comment to it was more or less ‘well then you need to ask if you need help’. That reply was heard from a few different reps and they were taken back. Why can’t we get the training we need to navigate through all of the madness? Call volume. How are we going to be able to handle issues like repair and collections, write orders properly, and steer through a calling system that just doesn’t seem to be working correctly? Apparently it doesn’t matter as long as we up sale our customers.
One of the last issues I’m going to share with you is a critical issue that a new rep has brought to our attention and higher management as well. When an appointment, regardless of what the nature of it is-repair, new install, or anything else-is not fulfilled the customer is NOT called back to inform their appointment will not be made or efforts to reschedule it. Management and other departments know about this and still no efforts have been made to fix this. I have seen this on my end as well. What do you say to a customer who asks, ’why didn’t anyone call?’ There’s no real honest why to answer that properly.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with the pending lawsuit that Frontier has from the 1.50 surcharge for HSI service but I do know that a lot of us here don’t agree with the charge and how it was handled. We were given a document on what to say when the customer calls in and disputes the charges. It was like a paragraph more or less stating we are imposing this surcharge and there’s nothing we can do to waive it.
I now realize I have a made a poor choice in my career. I have great empathy for the customer and I’m fed up with how they are treated as well as the employees.

Thank you for listening,

This is absolutely appalling. I urge you to send this comment to anyone and everyone that uses Frontier Communications as their "forced" internet service and telephone provider.

The original comment can be found at: Customer Service Scoreboard under the "Employee Comments" of which there is one.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The President's New Clothes

During this Presidential campaign season, I am amazed and appalled with the television studios and their spin. In the 2008 campaign, it was the same. The only difference this time is the presidential hopefuls. I will not beat around the bush and give hints as to who I will vote for. I will vote for Dr. Ron Paul as I did four years ago with a write-in ticket. I am not ashamed of wanting this man as our next president as I believe he has the best ideas to solve most of our country’s problems.

Judging from the responses of the “Tea Party” hopefuls, I’d say Dr. Paul’s ideas have filtered through and struck a nerve with the establishment. Though, not entirely the way those that voted for Dr. Paul had hoped.

Dr. Paul is a staunch Constitutionalist. If you look at his voting record, he has never voted for anything that would violate the United States Constitution. He is against all the wars that our country is involved in, and believes we should not have 900 bases in 150 countries. If you’re keeping track, there are roughly 196 countries in the world as this number varies depending on whom you ask and when. Even more surprising is the number of United States bases that are scattered throughout the world varies as well.

As I was saying, Dr. Paul is the only candidate running for PotUS that believes, along with 63% of U.S. citizens, we should not be at war. Numerous news reporters, lobbyists, politicians, and misinformed voters have stated in the past, as well as recently, “Ron Paul is an isolationist!” based on his foreign policy views.

Balderdash. One of the points in his 2008 campaign and his 2012 campaign is “non-interventionism”. That means, we should keep our noses out of everyone’s business but our own. The media constantly bombards us with the “isolationist” rhetoric. Further, Rudy Giuliani in 2008 attacked Dr. Paul for the same reason Rick Santorum has been this season. Giuliani and Santorum both state, “Al Qaeda attacked the United States because they hate our freedoms and our way of life.” There are other candidates that believe this as well, but they are just a tad smarter and never really bring it up. I’m curious as to how they believe this nonsense.

Apparently, these two gentlemen have never taken a physics class. I take that back, they seem like they’ve never even taken a general science class. One of the fundamental laws of physics is Newton’s Third Law: To every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Osama bin Laden even understood this since he himself stated the U.S. was attacked because we provoked the people in that region. There is no reason for him to have lied about this.

Here is a simple analogy that may make it a tad easier for these two gentlemen (Giuliani and Santorum) to understand the current situation and how they are completely wrong:

Two kids eating lunch on a playground. The larger of the two punches the other and takes his sandwich. He is, after all, a larger child and needs extra food. The smaller child gets upset about this, but he continues and starts to open his fruit cup. Again, the larger of the two punches the other and takes his fruit cup. He is, after all, a larger child and needs extra food. The smaller child takes it all in stride, just as he did before, and begins to open his Snickers he kept for a rainy day. And again, the larger child punches the other and attempts to steal the candy bar. After all, he is a larger child and needs extra food. Only this time is a little different. The smaller child is desperate. He is hungry and has been bullied during lunch and even his last resort is being stolen. What does the smaller child do? He beats the ever loving crap out of the larger boy and gets to keep his candy bar.

We, the United States of America, are the bully. We are the ones asserting ourselves all around the world. We are picking fights with other countries. We are the ones in the wrong and we need to fix it. We should never expect the outcome of provocation to be peace. If you poke a chihuahua with a stick too many times, you may wake up with pee on your face in the middle of the night. Most children understand this. The only exception are bullies.

The last thing I wanted to touch upon is the history of all the candidates that are running for president this election. I would urge everyone to read up on each one. Vote for the candidate that YOU agree with. Never listen to the media when they say who the “top tier” or “top two” are. The media these days are always biased. They will push for the candidate THEY agree with the most and whom will benefit them the most.

Read through and actually think about the repercussions and outcomes of the candidates’ proposed solutions. Really listen to what they are saying. Most of the candidates are playing the “sound bite” game. Some small quip that will get them noticed and in the spotlight. Others are playing “Chinese Whispers”.

I don’t know about you, but I’m voting for The Constitution. I am not going to vote for a politician. I will vote for a statesman. I am not voting for the lesser of two evils. I am voting for LIBERTY.

Check out Dr. Ron Paul’s political stance at:
Ron Paul @ Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Evil of Apathy

Apathy is, by far, the greatest affliction our world has ever known. It is the lowest mental state possible. It is the lack of emotion that our society needs to prosper, and it is increasing at an alarming rate. I sit and wonder at times how we, as a society, have reached to these depths and find it acceptable.

I’ve seen it first hand over the past few years. It is becoming more and more apparent as the months and years roll by, that people just stop caring. They stop feeling. I used to think, even recently, that suppressing my emotions was the way of the world. That did nothing but leave a void in my soul. I know different now.

I promised myself I wouldn’t make this blog a flurry of politics, and I plan on keeping that promise, but occasionally and necessarily, these things will be a focus. This is one of those times.
Those of you who know me, who have been around me long enough, know I will do what I can to make those around me comfortable, even at my own expense. It may surprise those same friends to know, I am totally against socialized medicine and health care. You may think this is apathetic of me, though I don’t see it as such.

I say that, because I see a world that is apathetic towards its fellow man. One of the reasons it came about, is because of these socialized programs: Social Security, “Obamacare”, the Department of Education, government loans and grants for higher education, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (food stamps), Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, the list goes on and on.

Yes, I am against it.

Before I go on, allow me to explain that I am not advocating removing these assistance programs for anyone that currently uses them. Our society has been suckling on the government teet for far too long, and if you even remotely live in a semi-populated area, you have been feeling the effects of this type of legislation for decades.

There are more reasons than I can explain as to why I’m against these programs, but the main one is apathy. It is because our government has taken it upon themselves to “take care” of us from cradle to grave that perpetuates the indifference that is running rampant. We often think, “Well, it’s the government’s job to take care of that elderly couple, why should I have to bother?” I once thought this way, as well.

I am ashamed at myself, really. I applied for, and received federal funds to support my higher education. The money that was used for my education, was stolen from someone else. That is the harsh truth behind all taxes and socialized programs. It is a redistribution of wealth. Why was it right for me to go to college for a year, when that same money could have stayed with the families it was taken from, and given them a slightly better life?

I know what some of you are thinking now. “In Nate’s mind, it’s wrong to steal, but if I didn’t get that assistance, it would be stolen from me. How is that right?”

Well, here’s my answer to that query. There are a few different ways you would be able to gain assistance. First and foremost, if you weren’t paying as much in taxes, you would have extra to use on your expenses. Secondly, there are the good people on this earth that would be more than willing to give assistance, had they more resources themselves and sending less to the government as taxes would give them the incentive they need. Third, there are the people like me. Those of us who will give what we can when the need arises. Not because we are forced to, but because we want to.

As it stands right now, the government is hiding the needy in a mountain of paperwork and red tape. Here’s a quick example. My sister, Stacy, has cerebral palsy. She receives a set amount of monies from SSI (Supplemental Security Income for those of you outside the U.S.) and she receives a set amount in the form of an EBT card (food stamps). If, for any reason, she receives any funds from any party other than those of the government, she loses it all. Forever. She cannot get a job, even though she wouldn’t mind working. Any money she is given is considered income and can be used as an excuse to remove her from the SSI program.

These are the situations I have seen time and time again. Because of the rules the government has forced into place, the simple act of helping someone else has consequences that are just too problematic for one or both parties. Some people won’t even save your life anymore if you’re choking out of fear of prosecution. All of these things cause apathy.

To me, Albert Einstein said it best:

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.”

If you would like for a few more explanations into some of my reasoning, as I know I didn’t go into a lot of detail, feel free to comment below.