Progressive Insurance Company: Run away, run away fast.

scam-alerts2

Aside from complaint pages like you see behind the link, Progressive has now totally destroyed any semblance of reputability by posting blog spam, one of which I just received.

I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you coud a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

This is typical of the kinds of camel ejecta that blog spammers send out. They try to make it look as legitimate as possible and usually include mis-spellings and bad grammar, but they include links to their website and use a bogus email address and user name, in the hopes of creating backlinks to their website, thus boosting their page rankings in search engines. There are even unethical businesspeople out there who teach others that this is a valid way of increasing your SEO rankings, which I think is disgraceful.

Stay away from any business that does this. It will not serve you to have unethical enterprises in your circle of influence.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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Phishing Spam

Phishing

Of course, the pox-ridden drones don’t even read their own email, but sadly there are just enough people out there who will fall for their phishing scam and log in to the fraudulent page, happily providing not only their PayPal info but also credit card numbers and pins, their vital information including date of birth and social security number, and then – once they have become the victim of identity theft, will spend years trying to clean up their records.

Oh, and my name’s not “Sean.”

Please be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Keeping the debate real

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OK, I have now seen several posts on Facebook about supposed “independent confirmation” that the Sandy Hook shooting event was a hoax, a drill orchestrated by the Obama administration as an excuse to tighten gun restrictions or eliminate guns altogether. The best statement I’ve seen on this topic comes from a Calgary Herald article dated 15 January 2013, now archived:

“…But the latest conspiracy movement seems custom-made to underscore the need for a national debate on mental illness.”

They’re not talking about Adam Lanza’s mental health, folks, or the mental health of those who perpetrate such well-documented atrocities; they’re talking about the mental health of the conspiracy theorists and by extension, of Americans in general where such cognitive dissonance finds such a ripe breeding ground.

I cannot iterate strongly enough – and make no mistake, I support the Second Amendment – that conspiracy theories of this nature are the abomination of desolation: unkind, unhealthy, ungodly, inhuman, twisted, disrespectful, sad and pathetic. They are unworthy of our nation.

Let’s be clear: There are certainly people entrenched deep within government who are neither ethical nor moral, perhaps a larger percent than would be expected from a statistical cross-section of our society, who are there for personal enrichment or power or aggrandizement. But such people are found everywhere. There is no star chamber. Despite the widening gap between rich and poor and the growing political influence of the ultra-wealthy (a separate problem and a separate debate), America is not being run by the Bilderbergs, or Jews, or Bill Gates, any other shadowy cabal. There is much illness in our society, but there is also immense amounts of good, and I declare that good will prevail. I call on those who stand on the side of truth and justice, whichever side of the political aisle you live on, to keep the discussion real, and not descend into the realm of madness.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Don’t sit that close to the TV, you’re ruin your eyes.

In a previous post, one of the things I reminisced about was television, and that’s what my mother always told me. I guess she didn’t happen to see this picture

Mother and two children sitting on floor of living room

which shows a mother and her two children watching TV in 1950. Happily, science has given the lie to this old wives’ tale.

That said, the image is from a wonderful LIFE magazine photo essay entitled “World Television Day: LIFE watches TV.” The entire essay is intriguing; the very first image shows RCA executives watching a prototype television in 1938:

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Notice that the image is being reflected in a mirror, the screen being on the top of the set instead of in the front. Charles Addams drew a set like this once, and I always thought it was very strange, never having seen a television like this.

73 - AddamsOutOfTheRefrigerator

But however it looked, TV was a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was around 4 or 5, I’d watch Superman religiously:

Superman

That theme music would come on, and I’d stand on my chair:

Chair

With my legs on the arms, in the same position as George Reeves (my mother had even made me a wonderful Superman costume that I would put on for the event) and along with Superman, fight for truth, justice, and the American Way.

When I wasn’t watching Superman, there were other shows: Popeye cartoons by Max Fleischer, Mighty Mouse, Gerald McBoingBoing, Tom Terrific, just to name a few. And there was Winky Dink, which featured in the LIFE essay:

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Six-year-old girls use a “Winky Dink” drawing kit on their home TV screen as they watch the kids’ program, 1953. The show, which aired for four years in the 1950s, has been cited as “the first interactive TV show,” especially in light of its “magic drawing screen” — a piece of plastic that stuck to the TV screen, and on which kids (and, no doubt, some adults) would trace the action on the screen.

had one of those. I remember using that kit to help Winky Dink save the world on more than one occasion.

As I grew older, mom was gone a lot and I recall fondly watching The Late Show (there were also the Late Late show and the Late Late Late show, which I would sometimes make myself stay up for), as well as the Million Dollar Movie, which often featured monsters and horror, as you can see in this lovely tribute:

New York television had its own home-grown kids’ shows:

bolton-swift

Here we see Captain Allen Swift from the Popeye show (I cried when he was replaced by Captain Jack McCarthy), Officer Joe Bolton from the Three Stooges, and of course, Bozo the Clown.

Chris and Sandy Becker - Website, 1957

Then there was Sandy Becker – the photo above also appears on the Wikipedia article, and happens to feature yours truly as a guest on the Sandy Becker Show, thanks to some judicious string-pulling by my theatrical mother. Sandy’s show was introduced with Bert Kaempfert’s “That Happy Feeling” – if it sounds strangely similar to “Swingin’ Safari,” that’s no coincidence, since Kaempfert wrote that one too.

kirschner

Not to be forgotten was Claude Kirschner’s Three Ring Circus, proudly sponsored by Junket Rennet Custard (which I don’t think I ever tried), Cocoa Marsh, a competitor to Bosco (that’s Kirschner doing the voice-over), and Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy, the latter of which has made a miraculous and most welcome comeback. Like many of the TV shows of the era, a lot of it was live and impromptu, and when cartoon time came around, Claude would often not know what was being shown; I recall he’d make something up on the fly like “Clowny’s Friends.”

But one of my very favorites was, of course, Captain Kangaroo – my generation’s “Mr. Rogers.”

“Puffin’ Billy” will forever conjure up images of dear Bob Keeshan in my mind.

This is a rabbit hole I could follow forever, the memories just keep coming back in waves. Rabbit hole? Why, that makes me think of Crusader Rabbit… but I’ve got places to go and a dairy assignment to fulfill, so I’d better wrap this up or I’ll be here all day.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Priced out of the market once again.

The text below is summarized and redacted from an article at PolicyMic – I wanted to share the information but there’s too much that’s unrelated or unsavory at the original site.

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There are plenty of reasons to avoid music festivals in 2014.

From the $12 Bud Lights and vomiting 16-year-olds to sexual assault-ridden crowdsurfing and white people in Native headdresses, your range of deterrents is limitless.

But one stands head and shoulders above the rest: the price of admission.

1967’s Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival, considered the modern era’s first such event, charged $2.00 for a bill that included the Doors, the Byrds and Captain Beefheart.’

Today, you can’t find a decent toothbrush for that price, let alone see some of the most legendary acts in rock history.

Two years later, Woodstock organizers charged $18 for all three days of the iconic festival, which featured performances by Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. That’s $120 in 2014 money, but considering the lineup and how door prices dropped to “free” once more attendees showed up than expected, that might go down as the deal of the century.

For $1 a pop in 1972, you could see pretty much every famous soul singer of the ’60s and ’70s at Wattstax in Los Angeles:

But times have changed. Weekend passes to the 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — America’s most profitable festival — asked a starting price of $375.

Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo clocked in at $234 and $250, respectively. Meanwhile, the “secondary market” costs for people who got edged out by stampeding ticket buyers are astronomical. Forbes reports that Coachella’s average ticket price in this arena was a whopping $825, while festivals like Lolla and Bonnaroo make closer to a humble half thousand.

And of course there’s the Ultra Music Festival, an EDM extravaganza where you pay $399.95 for people to whip their sweaty hair against your face and otherwise freak out in your general vicinity. “Next year, I won’t be going,” former Ultra attendee Matthew Agramonte told the Miami Herald. “Ultra is isolating its fan base that simply can’t afford outrageous prices. What was once a great experience is a ripoff and a great shame.”

Concurrent with these hikes was an influx of corporate brands and advertisers, all chomping at the bit for exposure to the festivals’ captive young consumers. Ad Age reports that brands will spend more than $1.34 billion sponsoring live music events this year, up 4.4% from 2013.

That means plenty more Heineken, Red Bull, Samsung and Sephora between you and the music. Hair washing stations by Garnier and “gaming tents” by Mattel are welcome to some but completely pointless to others who just came to check out the acts.

Such interlopers have become fixtures of the modern live music experience, so profitable, in fact, that corporate events are even popping up on their periphery:

“You can create your own environment,” General Motors’ David Barthmus told Ad Age, referencing an “off-Coachella” party co-sponsored by GM, McDonald’s and L.A. nightclub Bootsy Bellows. “Plus it’s more cost efficient because there isn’t the cost of being on the Coachella grounds.”

Some attribute these skyrocketing prices to industry monopolization. Some say illegal downloading forces artists to tour and charge more. Others blame venue rental costs, while others still say artists are greedy and know they can charge whatever they want without consequence.

Whatever the case, today’s festival-goers are suffering. It’s absurd that the term “payment plan” now goes hand-in-hand with your ticket purchase, but that’s the sad reality, and there’s little you can do about it.

Affordable festivals do exist, though they seem to be disappearing by the day. And it’s easy to romanticize the economic ethos of a bygone era while ignoring that challenges facing the usic industry were markedly different then.

But the next time you drop $400 on a festival pass, think of the pulsating hordes of molly-popping frat bros and trust fund babies flailing in a sea of ads and $15 hot dogs while multi-millionaires kick back in their air-conditioned offices, counting your money and laughing at how easily you were duped. Then think about Woodstock, Magic Mountain and the salad days of a time far gone.

That’s probably harsh, but so are these prices.

Welcome to 2014.

It’s not just music festivals. The price of Broadway shows has gone beyond what most people would consider reasonable; want to see “Wicked”? That’ll be $97.00 for the nosebleed section, all the way to $222.00 for premium orchestra seating, and that’s not even considering what scalpers charge. Even a family of 4 will now spend $400.00 for a single-day entry to Disneyland. Unless you want to drive to Tooele, Utah to see Three Dog Night like we did last July 4, and paid what would be considered a reasonable price for the privilege, many music concerts don’t fit the budget of those at whose heels economic terror is daily snapping.

And I don’t even have any answers, because I don’t understand the entire landscape, or the economic factors that are driving these soaring prices. All I know is that it takes a special performance and a special occasion, or a gift from some lovely friends, to make attending possible, and most of the time we look for other, cheaper forms of entertainment.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

It’s groovy, man, groovy…

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I just read an article over at the Spectrum entitled “The English language is state of in demise” (sic) in which writer Dan Murphy laments the abysmal condition of our language among modern speakers, largely thanks to the ubiquitous text/chat/Twitter/Facebook phenomenon. As to the headline itself, I don’t know if that’s just a terribly ironic typo or whether I’m missing something.

Regardless (or irregardless, depending on which side of that argument you happen to fall), the article reminded me of this little piece; the terminology is more at home in a beatnik coffee shop and has largely ceased to have meaning in the 21st century, but you will find it familiar enough to get the drift. I thought it was worth sharing.

Nostalgia

by R Bell ©

Remember when HIPPIE meant big in the hips
And a TRIP involved travel, in cars , planes and ships?
When POT was a vessel for cooking things in
And HOOKED was what grandmother’s rug might have been?
When FIX was a verb that meant mend or repair
And BE IN meant simply existing somewhere?
When NEAT meant well-organised, tidy and clean
And GRASS was a ground cover, normally green
When lights and not people were TURNED ON and off
And the PILL might have been what you took for a cough!
And CAMP meant to quarter out-doors in a tent
And POP was the way that the weasel went?
When GROOVY meant furrowed with channels and hollows,
And BIRDS were winged creatures like FINCHES and SWALLOWS?
When FUZZ was a substance that’s fluffy like lint,
And BREAD came from bakeries, not from the mint?
When SQUARE meant a 90-degree angled form
And COOL was a temperature not quite so warm?
When ROLL meant a bun, and ROCK was a stone,
And HANG_UP as something you did to the phone?
When FUZZ was a substance that’s fluffy like lint,
And BREAD came from bakeries, not from the mint?
When SQUARE meant a 90-degree angled form
And COOL was a temperature not quite so warm?
When ROLL meant a bun, and ROCK was a stone,
And HANG_UP was something you did to a phone?
When JAM was conserves that you spread on your bread
And CRAZY meant barmy, not right in the head?
When CAT was a feline – a kitten grownup
And TEA was a liquid you drank from a cup?
When SWINGER was someone who swung in a swing
And PAD was a soft sort of cushiony thing?
When WAY OUT meant distant and far, far away?
And a man couldn’t sue you for calling him GAY
When DIG meant to shovel and spade in the dirt
And PUT-ON was something you did with a shirt?
When TOUGH described meat too unyielding to chew
And MAKING A SCENE was a rude thing to do?
Words once so sensible, sober and serious
Are making the FREAK SCENE quite PSYCHEDELIIOUS
It’s GROOVY MAN GROOVY But English it’s not
Me thinks that our language has gone straight to POT….

For those of you born long, long after Haight-Ashbury was the scene, a couple of glosses:

Hang-up: problem, neurosis
Crazy: awesome
Tea: weed
Pad: your home, where you crash
Way out: awesome (or, if you’re from Boston, “wicked pissah”)
Birds: girls
Fuzz: The police
Dig: understand[1]

The Old Wolf hath goodly spoke.


[1] It has been suggested that “Do you dig it” has a connection to the Gaelic “An dtuigeann tu” (do you understand), which on the other side of the pond morphed into “do you twig it?”