Hey, we'd sure love to have a Circuit Judge here in the 38th Circuit, @GovJayNixon.
— Tony Brown (@mrbrown2195) July 10, 2014
A while back, my brother-in-law informed me that Amazon.com was giving away Prime memberships to people with .edu addresses. Seeing as how my wife works for a university (not to mention LSU & SULC haven’t deactivated my e-mail accounts), we took full advantage of this deal and signed up.
If you don’t know, Amazon Prime provides a “free” upgrade to two-day shipping on everything you order from Amazon.com (3rd party sellers don’t count). Additionally, you can upgrade any order to one-day shipping for a minimal fee. So, if you order a lot of crap from Amazon, it makes for a hell of a good deal.
We didn’t use it a whole lot at first, but then we found out you can get pet toys, pill pockets, and Donut Shop coffee! (for the Keruig coffee maker… it’s a hell of a deal at Amazon. You can get a 50 pack of coffee for $17.85 with free shipping. Bed, Bath, and Beyond charges $10+tax for an 18-pack). Plus, with all of the orders, I’m getting a lot of boxes to move my eBay sales business along, because buying boxes is a giant pain in the ass.
(Did you know they’re offering iPads for sale now?)
Anyhow, this is definitely a winning combination. I can see myself continuing the Prime membership once the free year runs out… it’s definitely worth it.
Since I’ve been effectively unemployed for quite some time, I’ve become accustomed to watching the greatness that is “daytime television”. If you’re a working individual, you probably know nothing about daytime television, simply because you’re slaving away at a desk from 8 to 5 everyday during the week, so let me explain it to you.
Years ago, the three broadcast networks used to air programming during the day that catered to housewives, because you know, before “liberation,” women were apparently things that made babies and dinner. So, NBC, CBS, and ABC aired programming such as scripted dramas sponsored by soap manufacturers, game shows, and to a lesser extent, talk shows. Then the women became “liberated” (personally, I think they got a raw deal) and started going to work, which marked the end of a lot of daytime television. Fox, which came along later, didn’t offer any daytime programming to its affiliates for the very reason that they knew nobody was watching anymore, among other reasons (such as skirting around the FCC definition of “broadcast network”).
NBC has nothing except for a 870th hour of “Today” and one minor soap opera. ABC has a few soap operas left (General Hospital is probably the only one I can think of off the top of my head) and of course, it’s award winning “The View”. And then, there’s CBS…
I’m a CBS fan, simply because I’m a game show fan — they’re the only folks actively investing in game shows. Of course, there’s the grand-daddy of them all: “The Price is Right”. They also recently picked up the Wayne Brady-hosted “Let’s Make a Deal”. And finally, the most popular soap opera of them all, “The Young and the Restless”. Even non-soap fans like myself know who Victor Newman is and what kind of sleaze bag he really is.
Of course, there’s also the syndicated programming. Most syndicated daytime programming nowadays consists of trashy talk shows, like the infamous “Jerry Springer Show” and (in some respects) the even more infamous “Maury”. If you’re not lucky and have to work everyday of your life, you likely haven’t experienced the wonder of a “Maury Baby Daddy Tuesday,” in which there’s a great deal of screaming, some paternity testing, and lots of booing. It’s truly an epic experience.
And after all is said and done, you get the 4 o’clock news in most markets, which effectively marks the end of a day’s worth of daytime television. I encourage everybody who has a day off to check out the Drew Carey-hosted “Price is Right,” Maury Povich’s self-titled show, and of course “Young & The Restless,” because everybody needs to follow Victor Newman’s antics.
Now, a commercial from my childhood. R.A. Gabriele used to be the “lawyer who sends flowers.” By 1994, though, he wasn’t sending flowers anymore…
VICTIMS! VICTIMS! VICTIMS!
Today’s terrible lawyer commercial comes from Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro. VICTIMS!
Today’s terrible lawyer commercial comes to you from the law firm of Attorney Denvile Crowe of Tupelo, Mississippi!
I was asked a while back why I stopped my reviews of episodes America’s favorite reality show, “Cheaters,” and there’s a simple answer for that: I can’t.
Since I moved to the Ozarks, I’ve searched for a television station that runs first-run episodes of the show. Unfortuantely, there is only one — KWBM. KWBM is a DayStar-owned affiliate, which apparently does not have a contract with the satellite providers, DirecTV & Dish Network.
It is apparently available on the local cable provider, MediaCom, but from what I’ve heard from my real estate agent, my coworkers, my wife’s co-workers, my friends, and the Internet, MediaCom is the worst cable provider in America, hands down… which is why everybody here in Springfield, and the surrounding Ozarks communities, has a satellite provider or U-Verse.
Some of you are probably saying, “Tony, you’re a technically savvy guy – why not just put up an antenna and watch it over the air”? Well, I would do that… ‘cept KWBM barely puts out a signal, and on top of that, they broadcast out of Harrison, Arkansas, a city approximately 80 miles away.
So yeah – no more Cheaters reviews until Joey Greco can hook me up with a new affiliate.
Back on a quaint, late September afternoon, I received the bill for our home phone line from AT&T, and something immediately caught my eye – my normally $50 bill was $80! Quickly, I began to search the bill like a hawk to discover a $21 charge for a collect call from Vail, Colorado care of “Transaction Clearing / BillwithUs”.
At first I thought maybe my wife had some wacky cracked out relative in Vail that she accepted a collect call from, but surprisingly, she knows of no one in Vail, Colorado. I attempted to call the number, but it just rings and rings and rings…
I got on Google as fast as I could, and searched for “BillwithUs”. Turns out it is a very well known and documented “cramming” scam. Some little outfit in god knows where falsely bills people for collect calls that were never made and received, and hopes to god that most people don’t look at or question their telephone bills. Well, unfortuantely for them, I do. And I’m two shakes from being a fully licensed attorney (plus, I’m unemployed, so I have all of the free time in the world!), so I do what is expected of me – file a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General.
While the complaint is being processed, I call AT&T, which is a completely unpleasant experience. AT&T’s people tell me there’s nothing I can do about it, I can’t prevent 3rd parties from billing to my telephone account (i.e. the experience can repeat itself!), and I need to call this phony BillwithUs, even though a quick Google search brings up loads of cramming complaints and Attorney General complaints filed around the country.
So, I call BillwithUs. They insist I accepted the phone call from this phantom number in Vail, Colorado. I start raising hell, and without arguing with me, they credit me the amount — obviously, they know they’re in the wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t be so quick to credit the amount!
Months later, after Chris Kosher’s (Missouri’s AG) consumer complaints office completes their “investigation”, I get a letter from their office, which states they do not feel any fraud is taking place (even though the FTC has opened a case against them, and there are five complaints in the past 6 months in Missouri alone), and they attached a letter from BillwithUs’s “Jing Telmo”, which is almost comical:
On October 1, 2009 Anthony Brown called our customer care center and spoke with a Call Center Agent, Anthony Brown was explained [sic] that the charges on behalf of BWU represent a collect call to his residence, Anthony Brown proceeded to dispute the charges and although we feel the call was received and accepted, a credit was approved for reimbursement and submitted back to his phone company which he was informed will be applied in 1-2 billing statements.
Wow, I wish I could just get off of charges of fraud by saying “I didn’t do anything!” Wouldn’t that be super?
Anyhow, it looks like in an attempt to lower the Google results that bring up “BillwithUs fraud”, “BillwithUs cramming”, and “BillwithUs ripped off”, the lovely folks at BillwithUs have opened their own craptacular website. The website provides nothing substantive – it’s obvious that they’re just trying to keep folks from reading about their fraudulent activities.
So, has anybody out there been scammed by these people? Any other interesting stories to share?!
Since I’m not much on publications, I decided to self-publish my award winning essay, “Sour Apple: The Case for iPhone Jailbreaking”. I wrote this essay earlier in the year for a class I took on Copyright Law, and it was entered into a competition. My paper was awarded the 2nd place prize by a panel of judges, and I happily took the $250 check from ASCAP.
So, now I’m making it available to you. It’s in PDF format, and you can’t copy & paste anything from it, or edit it in anyway. I retain all rights to the paper - do not copy it and claim it as your own or doing anything else stupid.
Amazon.com’s Kindle is an amazing little device, which I would want in a heartbeat… but for a few problems.
I think the biggest problem for me, personally, is that law casebooks aren’t available in Kindle format. I would kill not to be able to have to carry around hundreds of pounds of books at any one time – one thin electronic device to replace them all. But unfortuantely (no fault of Amazon’s), the publishers of such books have their own plans, and want to continue to waste paper and energy pumping out overpriced books, year after year, when the law doesn’t really change.
Additionally, as a law student, I do a lot of writing in the casebooks that I read. The Kindle has no sort of “notetaking” feature, as far as I know.
I love the idea of books on demand and free 3G access to download those books – that’s just plain awesome… but these two things are really deal breakers for me at the moment.
(yeah, I’m totally trying to sell you the Kindle, since Amazon Associates is offering 10% commission on them right now!)