Friday, August 24, 2012

The evil that cell phone companies do

My name is Sponge Freddie, and I'm an Electronic Crackaholic.

I used to scoff at everyone madly texting with electronic devices.

"I'm so glad I'm not a slave to that ridiculous electronic crack," I would contentedly remind myself, every time I witnessed the compulsive obsession a passerby or acquaintance would be experiencing with his or her device.

I only consented to a cell phone because when I got married, I reasoned that my wife might need to get a hold of me for some reason, so I should probably have one. Once I made that decision, I purposely opted for the most primitive phone possible at the time. I had absolutely zero interest in the latest and greatest electronic waste of my attention.

After quite some time, my wife and I started texting little messages here and there when we were apart. We discovered that even though we both found the whole "texting" thing irritating and objectionable, lo and behold, we had fun texting each other. A lesson was learned, in terms of the actual usefulness of the device versus the perceived usefulness.

This texting activity culminated the day when my wife happened to find an allegedly "amazing deal" on two matching cell phones with slide-out keyboards that we could acquire for free, just for making a small adjustment to our already existing cell phone plan.

So, another lesson learned; I found that I loved the many features of the new phone, such as big, colored characters, a nice screen I could put a picture of my wife on, and easily adjustable font size in the text window.

But then, something happened, which caused a string of events, making me realize that cell phone companies are not just companies making money, but evil.

I accidentally placed my cell phone into a ceramic cup of soda pop.

After the prescribed attempt to revive my phone (taking battery out, rinsing phone with water, blowing out with air, drying out for several days in a container of dry rice), I resigned myself to buying another phone. I had a very unpleasant surprise waiting for me, however.

First, I found out the model my wife picked out for us has been discontinued; no more green, now it's "Charcoal Gray" or "Charcoal Yellow." But, I can live with a cosmetic difference. Then we went shopping.

At T-Mobile, the Samsung Gravity Txt phone  was $139.99. At Target, where my wife initially bought our phones, the same phone was $224.99. However, the most insidious development was yet to come.

Observe carefully the following page:

T-Mobile Samsung Gravity Txt

Eventually, when the phone is discontinued, the pricing and interactive portion of the web page will most likely be disabled, so here are the particulars of their pricing scam, in terms of how much the actual phone will cost the customer:

A New T-Mobile Customer with an Individual Plan: $0.00.
A New T-Mobile Customer with a Family Plan: $9.99.
An Existing T-Mobile Customer to upgrade phone with new contract (Individual Plan): $0.00.
An Existing T-Mobile Customer to upgrade phone with new contract (Family Plan): $0.00.

And now, drum roll please...

An Existing T-Mobile Customer to replace phone without new contract: $249.99.

So what does this mean?

It means that cell phone service providers are more like drug pushers than legitimate businesses earning an honest living.

How does a business normally treat its loyal customers? Not like that. We are existing customers of T-Mobile, and are already paying $2,280.00 over two years, via the mutually agreed-upon contract we signed when we received the phones.

If you are a new customer, the cost of the requisite 2-year plans far exceeds the cost of the $250 phone you got for $9.99, so in effect, no matter how you slice it, the cell phone company is going to screw you in the wallet every time.

A drug pusher will always let you taste the wares "for free." It's the hook that drags you into an extended buyer-supplier relationship that typically leaves the buyer penniless, sick, dead, or if he or she is "lucky," a recovering addict.

While the cell phone user may not end up as tragically as the drug abuser, the fact remains that once you have been suckered into the culture of being "plugged in," it is only the most extraordinary individual who can rise above that artificial encumbrance.

Does a company deserve remuneration for products and services provided?


Does a customer deserve price fixing and horrendously overblown charges?

Absolutely not.

What was my solution to my particular problem?

I went back to using my relatively featureless old cell phone. I'm not paying $140 to $250 for a cell phone that could have just as easily been sold at cost by the Cell Phone Pushers, er, I mean Cell Phone Companies, especially since we're already on a 2 year plan and now we don't even have one of the two phones we were enticed with to sign up in the first place!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Freedom Of Speech?


So when an atheist parent gets upset because his or her child is "forced" to be in the same room while others seek to pray to or discuss God at school, the parents of the "offending" children are subject to legal pressure by the ACLU, et al. Apparently the right to free speech does not apply to someone who wants to pray or talk about God.

And if a fast-food restaurant chain's CEO says he does not support gay marriage, then that's a cue for some gay activist organizations to schedule a "National Same-Sex Kiss Day."  The sole purpose being an opportunity for homosexual couples to put on a kissing exhibition at their local Chick-fil-A restaurant, and in effect, rub those "intolerant" noses in it. Apparently Dan Cathy is also not allowed to exercise his Constitutional right to free speech.

I fully support these organizations' rights to express their opinions publicly, but swapping spit in public is not the most mature, nor effective, reaction to the opposing viewpoint. If the parents of a praying child were to react to legal pressure by bringing in a busload of altar boys to the classroom to sing Amazing Grace during science class, I think it would make about as much sense.

It's also interesting to note that although there is no discrimination against gay employees at Chick-fil-A, nor is there any existing directive to discourage gay people from patronizing the stores, the dependable buzzword "hate" has automatically cropped up from the "support equality" side of the imbroglio.

Witness some of the propaganda:

If you wish to view more of these strategically inflammatory aspersions yourself, and the web sites they come from, just search the terms "hate gays chick fil a" and select "images" instead of "web." You'll have plenty to choose from.

What I find most interesting in all this though, is that customers are lining up, sometimes nearly around the block, to show support for Chick-fil-A, despite the efforts of others to drag the business down. As a result, Chick-fil-A is experiencing record profits.

What this means is that despite specific organizations and individuals who live by the sword of fear-mongering slander, the public at large will not relinquish their natural birthrights to think or believe what they wish. I'm willing to bet that a lot of people standing in line at Chick-fil-A may even support gay marriage, or are ambivalent. They just don't want a bunch of cunning harpies with libelous hammers to dictate to the world what is proper to say in public.

This effect has also played out in legislative arenas. According to the New York Times, to date there have been 32 ballot measures that would have legalized or banned gay marriage, and that opponents of gay marriage have won all 32. What is this saying? Do you really think it means that lots of people hate gays? Take your own personal account of all the people you've ever met; the numbers just don't match what the militant gay organizations would have you believe.

One of my wife's best friends has a same-sex partner who laid out the solution so elegantly to us one afternoon, that to this day I still think he has the superior perspective.

To paraphrase, he said that pushing for gay marriage is a pointless waste of time. He believes that instead of taking on an institution like marriage, which is traditionally a ceremony where two people say their vows before humans and God, he said it would be wiser and more appropriate to lobby for civil unions instead. In this way, the same-sex partners would still retain all the rights and privileges from the State that married couples do, but they would be leaving God out of it.

Let's face it. It's not hateful to observe the gigantic irony of pushing for a religious ceremony whose presiding Authority's intention is the propagation of the species. If God is supposedly so intolerant and hateful toward gays, then why would gays even want to take part in a ceremony that is ratified by the same God? It just doesn't make any sense.

And guess what? My wife and I also have another two friends who are a same-sex couple, and they were married in Quebec. I care for both of them a great deal, and the idea of hurting them, or trying to take away their marriage, or anything of the sort, is ridiculous to me. They were happy with their decision, and I was happy for their happiness.

But if I feel like eating at Chick-fil-A, I'm bloody well going to do so, no matter what the thought police do to dissuade me.

And... I'm not going to boycott over their 2.5 million dollar contribution to "Washington United for Marriage." Jeff Bezos is just as entitled to free speech as Dan Cathy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

YouTubers Anonymous

I have a confession to make.

Against my better judgment, and regardless of previous negative experiences, now and then I make the mistake of engaging other human beings in the comment sections of various YouTube pages.

Granted, I don't know any of these people personally. They could be from all walks of life, all levels of intellectual acumen, and completely spanning every kind of culture and subculture that exists. The one thing many of them have in common, however, is a desire to castigate what they view as idiocy, despite that oftentimes their targets are merely expressing different points of view.

More vexing to me than their acrimonious or vulgar commentary, is why on earth I am still sometimes moved to leave any comments at all. "Put your hand in the fire," and so on.

In the interest of total honesty, I can't recall if every comment I've ever left was positive at the onset. I can say that the greatest majority of my past comments started out as thoughtful and benign, but thanks to others who think it their duty to put me in my place, I have sometimes sunk to arguing.

These exchanges never end well, and I am always left with a similar dirty feeling that a recovering addict feels when he or she backslides into the addiction. I feel disgusted with myself if I dwell on how much I have in common with these faceless YouTube pseudonyms, whose cognitive dissonance appears to completely obscure their own proclivities.

So, as a form of self-improvement and repentance, from this day forward I will attempt to refrain from leaving comments on any more YouTube pages.

The best way to rise above the muck is to simply not stomp around in it.