… and thanks for your service.

This post is essentially copypasta from a comment I made over at Facebook, with a little embellishment.

One of my friends is a bus driver in San Francisco, and he posted this little exchange:

And I thought this was very interesting, and I started thinking about it. (A dangerous pasttime.)

A lot of things have combined over the last decade, including the political Chernobyl of the Dildo Braggins-MAGA era, the pandemic, and my long-awaited retirement. All of these things, but most especially leaving the workforce, has made me keenly aware that just about everyone I interact with these days is serving me in some way. All of them are out there busting their chops to buy food and pay rent and afford daycare, and every person I encounter in public from the gal behind the car rental counter to the fella bagging my groceries is serving my needs. Me. If they weren’t there doing the wage-slave tango, I’d have more to do than I could handle, and a lot of stuff I needed simply wouldn’t get done, and a lot of stuff I wanted would simply not be available.

For a long time, even before this gentle epiphany, I have been in the habit of thanking service veterans for their sacrifices for our nation. Now, Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station – a veteran himself – wrote an interesting essay on this subject, and while I understand and appreciate his point of view, I am grateful for their service. I lotteried out of the draft in 1972, and thus never had the obligation of either being shipped off to ‘Nam or joining the Navy; half of me is grateful, and the other half wistful that I didn’t have the chance of serving my country in that way. So when I see one of these hats or one like it,

I make sure to tell the wearer that I appreciate what they did for all of us.

By extension, I’ve made it a little personal habit to tell people I encounter in the course of the day, “… and thanks for being here for us.”¹ I don’t do it to feel wholesome, I do it because I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Oddly enough, most of them don’t know how to handle this and I get a lot of bluescreen moments. But I mean it sincerely and somehow it seems indecent not to say something. Perhaps, at the very least, it brings a bit of warmth to someone’s otherwise dreary or retail-hell day.


WAT‽

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes

¹ Yes, even cops. These folks usually get “Thanks for keeping us all safe.” While there are far too many problems with bad peace officers and bad police procedures in our nation, I don’t ascribe to the reddit/Imgur ACAB-echo chamber and I’d rather err on the side of decency than resentment.

The pretentiousness of affiliate greed

Just an example here of how the mad rush to monetize the internet infects almost every website you visit. Today, Bon Appétit is the teacher in the moment.

I found a lovely recipe for “Shockingly Easy No-Knead Focaccia.” It does look good, and I hope I can find the time to try it.

There’s a section about “What You’ll Need,” with the ever-present disclaimer:

All products featured on Bon Appétit are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through the retail links below, we earn an affiliate commission.

So let’s see what we’ll need to make this recipe:

All of these products, lovingly chosen by Bon Appétit’s editors, were selected not for utility but to generate the maximum possible revenue for the website’s owners. I mention this because in order to purchase every one of these items at the listed links (with the exception of the Bon Appétit Market which is currently 404), you would need to shell out $314.00… and Bon Appétit would earn a commission on all of those sales.

I pity the poor wights who come to this page and think they need to buy all of these utensils before they can make the recipe; almost every item on this list could be had at Dollar Tree for $1.25 each (you’d have to go to Walmart or somewhere similar for a 1-quart saucepan for $8.97 instead of $155.00 at Amazon), and the digital scale isn’t even used in the recipe unless you’d rather measure 625 grams of flour instead of 5 cups.

The Internet is an amazing source of information, but overshadowing everything is the commercialization of any possible space. I remember one of the earliest and cleverest examples of turning the Internet into a cash cow, the “Million Dollar Homepage.”

Every pixel on this page sold out, meaning whoever came up with this idea made off with a cool million. It’s interesting to go back in time and revisit the purchasers (many of which are now defunct), and to wonder if that investment in an odd form of advertising ever converted into sales… but I doubt it.

Advertising in general is expensive and largely ineffective; the best websites hit around an 11% conversion rate, but the average landing page conversion rate is 2.35%. That means that 97% of the money a company spends on internet advertising or a web presence goes directly into the sewer. The ones who make that money are the advertising providers.

The monetization of everything on the Internet seems to be unavoidable, but from where I sit, it’s exhausting.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.

Roe is dead… and many women and girls will be as well.

Today the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, struck down Roe v. Wade, which newly-confirmed justices Brett Kavanaugh (the alleged rapist) and Amy Coney Barrett (the evangelical activist) had sworn to the Senate was “established law.”

Immediately, a number of states moved to implement “trigger laws” – most recently Missouri – State Attorney General Eric Schmitt acted to put his state’s trigger law into effect within minutes of the court ruling, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. [Newser]

It is expected that over half the states will now move to ban abortions, with varying degrees of draconian severity.

The evangelical right will be celebrating tonight, and there will be many posts and tweets about “liberal tears” filling the ether in days to come. But I personally can guarantee you the following things, just for starters:

  • If one of their own – an individual, a spouse, or a child – is raped or otherwise violated, or if a pregnancy strikes them as inconvenient, they will find a way to get that abortion, either by going to a progressive state or by going to what will pass for a “back-alley abortionist.”
  • Women and girls will die, and many will suffer irreparable health issues.
  • There will be a surge in poverty rates and homelessness associated with this decision
  • With the stroke of a pen, the court has not prevented abortions – they have only prevented safe abortions.
  • The ripple effect will be horrific.

This is the Republicans’ long game come to fruition, a game they have been playing for the last 60 years at least. It demonstrates why evangelical voters didn’t care how terrible a person Trump is; they knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that if they could get him into the White House that the Supreme Court would be theirs for generations, and would strike down every law they considered unholy.

Like Roe. And, as Clarence Thomas wrote:

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold [contraceptives], Lawrence [gay rights], and Obergfell [same-sex marriage].”

Where this will go, I cannot say. I know only that I will not live to see the end of it, since the echoes of this court will propagate down generations. But I take comfort in the sane and sensible words of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

This is the kind of person we need leading our country and making our laws, and not the clown-circus dumpster fire minority-led junta we currently have.

I am a boomer, but this is not what I voted for or worked for. I apologize to my posterity for the world that they are now inheriting. For as long as I have breath, I will fight the trend of authoritarian oppression that so many in the Republican Party seem to want imposed upon our entire nation, and I hope that they will do so as well instead of succumbing to despair and apathy.

For the love of anything you hold dear, vote in November and in every local and national election from now until the end of time. Vote for people who will work to build a world that works, in the words of R. Buckminster Fuller, “for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.” Vote to repudiate Trump and Trumpism in all its aspects, vote as if your life and the lives of your loved ones depend on it… because now, more than ever, they do.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Note: Comments are disbled for this post, for obvious reasons. If you have dissenting opinions, post them on your own pages, not here.

Note 2: If you come to the conclusion by reading this that I think abortion is a great thing, I regret I must disappoint you. Read this.

How American Airlines destroyed the end of our vacation, and how British Airways did their best to help us feel better.

Update: Not satisfied with the response from Customer Service, I wrote a letter directly to Robert Isom, the CEO of American Airlines. He just bounced it back to Customer Service, without the courtesy of a direct response. Their answer was, essentially, “we’re sorry you’re unhappy but 🤬 you. What happened is standard procedure. Here’s 10,000 miles in your account, we hope you’ll fly with us again.”

Below is the text of a letter I wrote to American Airlines, which essentially summarizes our experience.


I’ll try to be concise here, but it’s hard, because there are so many feelings involved. I’m not a happy camper right now.

In December of 2021, I found a great fare to London and booked a trip (which had been delayed by 2 years due to COVID) for my wife and myself to celebrate our anniversary. First class. This was important, because my wife has mobility issues and I wanted to make the trip as easy on her as possible. Our flight record was [redacted], but the flights were with British Airways as a codeshare.

BA then cancelled our flight to London and I had to rebook in January. Great, all is well. On 22 March we took off for London under the following itinerary:

Boston to London – AA 6963
Mar 22, 8:15 PM–Mar 23, 6:50 AM

London to Rome – AA 6455
Mar 23, 9:35 AM–1:20 PM

☞ Rome to London – AA 6511
Apr 19, 12:55 PM–2:40 PM ☜

London to Boston – AA 6927
Apr 19, 5:05 PM–7:45 PM

Everything went wonderfully. We had a lovely trip traveling around Europe, including taking the Eurostar from Paris to London. And I figured that, hey, since we’ll already be in London, we just won’t have to take that segment from Rome. The one up there that’s struck out. So before we flew, I called American and asked if that segment could be refunded.

The agent said that to do that, he would have to rebook the entire itinerary. And that there would be a price difference. And that all he had available was business class. So I told him that I would just leave the itinerary as it was, and simply would not take the flight from Rome to London. And the agent told me that would be fine.

So when we got to Heathrow to come home, we trucked down to the First Class reception area, expecting to be able to spend a few hours in the lovely Concord Room getting a bit of something to eat… but instead I was told that we had no itinerary. No flight. So sorry.

You cannot possibly imagine the feelings I had at that moment. The stress. The embarrassment. The shame. The fear. Waiting in BA’s first class area with a physically limited spouse, no flight, no way home, and no one who was willing to get us on the flight that we had booked and paid for and were present and ready to take.

The BA personnel conferred for about an hour and were sympathetic, but finally told me that they could do nothing, and that I had to go to the American Airlines desk to get it resolved. There I was given the same story: Because we had not taken that segment up there (the one crossed out), our entire itinerary had been cancelled. The AA agent told me I could get a flight the next day in First Class for another $14,000… or a business class booking for another $8,000! And by this time we had been dealing with this for over three hours, and my stress had reached a point that I was experiencing chest pains.

None of this made sense. I had paid for an entire first class itinerary, and I sure as shooting was not being given first class service. Just because we didn’t take the flight from Rome – and remember, you people had my money for that segment and I wasn’t even asking for a refund, so you were losing nothing – you had no right to cancel my flight from London. None. It is sheer madness. People kept throwing terms at me like “illegal ticketing,” “terms and conditions,” “fine print blah blah,” and the like… and I really didn’t understand any of it, and I really don’t care. I had paid for a first class itinerary, and you took it away from me. And it was wrong. All you had to do was undo that flight cancellation [and there were available seats in First Class], but nobody seemed willing to do that. It seemed all about getting more money, and not a soul was concerned that I had been effectively robbed and stranded. I was just another number in a computer.

So there I was. Finally, your agent was able to get us a seat in coach, on BA 203, that evening, the same flight that we had paid for in first class. Yes, he offered me a bit of a refund in the form of some vouchers, but that in no way made up for the inconvenience, the stress, the embarrassment, the discomfort, and the physical challenges for both me and my wife. It’s just a good thing we arrived at the airport a good 6 hours early, or we would have missed the rest of our connections.

So we made it home, and now you guys are in deep tapioca with me. And how you respond to this situation will determine how I will respond to you in future. Because as of this moment, the odds that I will ever use AA again after using up those travel vouchers are pretty much less than zero. But there it is.

You screwed up royally. You put us through literal travel Hell. And it all could have been avoided if your telephone agent – in the Philippines or wherever, with an accent so heavy I had to strain to understand him – had told me at the time of my phone call, “Be careful, because if you don’t take the segment from Rome to London, your itinerary will be cancelled.” But nothing like that was said. I was completely unaware that this was even possible, and it never entered my mind, because it was like I had purchased four separate tickets and simply chose not to use one of them. To your financial advantage.

So I ask you, what are you going to do to make this right? What are you going to do to keep me as a customer? If I hear any corporate noises like “We’re sorry, but according to the terms of conveyance…” or “regretfully you did not read the fine print…” or “we regret this is standard industry practice…” or anything like that, I will be more than put out. And my social media presence is large, and extensive, and wide.


And below, you will find the bitterly disappointing weak-sauce response from AA:


Thanks for taking the time to contact us. I’m sorry for any confusion over your reservations. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concern. [Note: But your “response” was just a load of mealy-mouthed corporate pablum.]

There are many different fares and associated restrictions with air travel. It is a generally accepted practice that tickets are to be used in sequence and in their entirety. This is a standard airline requirement for all discounted round-trip tickets. [Note: So despite my admonition above, all I’m hearing is “corporate noises“].

When a customer presents a ticket for “return” travel without having used a previous segment, the ticket is considered void for that trip. In such cases, it is usually necessary to purchase a new one-way ticket at the applicable fare. [Note: And that is pure 🐂💩, an unconscionable money grab. You had seats available in first class that you had not re-sold. You could have just reinstated our fare with no loss to you.]

We know that travel plans can change, even up to the time of departure. In such cases your ticket will be repriced at the applicable fare. I am sorry for your disappointment. [Note: But you are unwilling to do anything about it I’m clearly not worth the effort to retain me as a customer.]

Regarding the vouchers issued for the fare difference, I’ve reissued your eVouchers as new Trip Credits, which will arrive in separate emails. [Note: This does absolutely nothing for me. Thanks for nothing.]

Trip Credits are valid for one year from the date of issue, unless otherwise stated and can be used to purchase travel on flights operated by American, American Eagle® or flights marketed by American – designated with an AA*. They can also be used to book flights on our oneworld® partners, as long as at least one flight in the itinerary is operated or marketed by AA and is for international travel. International flights are defined as transatlantic, transpacific and flights to and from South America.

When using a Trip Credit, the value must be applied toward the ticket purchase before the one-year expiration, but travel may extend beyond that date. Trip Credits are nontransferable and may not be sold or bartered, but you can use them to purchase a ticket for anyone you choose. Check out all the Terms and Conditions here on aa.com.

Christopher, thank you for your loyalty and support as an AAdvantage® member. We look forward to welcoming you aboard your next flight! [Note: Not bloody likely. I asked what you were going to do to rectify this hideous treatment, and you toed the corporate line and answered, effectively, “nothing.” And as a result, once I have used up whatever credits I have accrued on my AA mastercard and the vouchers I was given, AA is unlikely to see another red cent from me. Ever. And I robustly encourage anyone who’s planning travel to use an airline that gives a rat’s south-40 about customer satisfaction.]

Sincerely,
[Name redacted]
Customer Relations
American Airlines

Edit: I wrote back to AA to let them know I was unhappy with their response:

It goes without saying that I am both unsatisfied and bitterly disappointed by your uncaring response. I asked you in my letter, “So I ask you, what are you going to do to make this right? What are you going to do to keep me as a customer?” And your response was effectively, “nothing.” American really screwed the pooch with this one, and it’s clear you don’t give a rat’s south-40 about customer satisfaction. So as for welcoming me aboard my next American flight, the odds of that are precisely zero – and I am publishing our exchange far and wide, to make sure others know how poorly I was treated and how AA didn’t really care.

Sadly,
-Christopher C. DeSantis
A former AA flyer.

And they came back to me with this:

May 31, 2022

Hello Christopher:

I received your additional email and am sorry to hear that you’re disappointed with my response. [Note: This letter was written by a different agent, so the original was not “her response.“] We recognize that we will not always agree upon the resolution, but we do our best to be supportive as advocates for our customers and fulfill requests where we can.

We’re committed to providing world-class service, and your business means a lot to us. We appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback, which helps us know where we can improve. Every day our team is working to make flying with us better, and we look forward to rebuilding your confidence. From all of us at American Airlines, we look forward to serving your future travel needs. We sincerely appreciate our loyalty, you are why we fly! [Note: I can’t believe they have the unmitigated chutzpah to say something like this to an unhappy customer.]

Sincerely,

[Name redacted]
Customer Relations
American Airlines

Yes, life happens. But this kind of treatment – essentially a calculated money-grab by the airline – is unconscionable and a corporation that cares about its customers would at least do something to retain an unhappy customer. Clearly, American Airlines is not such a corporation.

So, I wrote back:

> I received your additional email and am sorry to hear that you’re disappointed with my response.
It was not “your response.” The first letter was sent by a completely different agent.

> we do our best to be supportive as advocates for our customers and fulfill requests where we can.

 Your total dismissal of my complaint proves that this is a lie.

We’re committed to providing world-class service, and your business means a lot to us.

Horsehockey. If my business meant a lot to you, you would have replied with something – anything – to make up for the terrible thing you did.

>From all of us at American Airlines, we look forward to serving your future travel needs. We sincerely appreciate our loyalty, you are why we fly!

You have thermonuclear chutzpah to send this kind of boilerplate response to a very unhappy customer. It makes you look as cheap and uncaring as you have proven yourselves to be. As indicated, you shot yourselves in the foot and I will not be using American Airlines again unless you come back to me with something substantial to change my mind.

Sincerely,
Christopher C. DeSantis
A former AA flyer.

And, today [6/7/2022] I received this dishwater response:

June 7, 2022

Hello Christopher:

I received your reply and see that you’re still unhappy with us. One of our primary responsibilities in Customer Relations is to help our customers who have experienced a situation such as yours. I’m sorry that we weren’t able to resolve the issue to your satisfaction. I can see that you feel strongly about this issue. I took another look at your original complaint, as well as our response and, at this time, I don’t see any new information that would change our position. If you have additional information you’d like us to consider let me know and I’ll gladly review it.

Christopher, we look forward to rebuilding your confidence in our service, and hope you’ll give us the opportunity to provide you with a more positive experience in the future.

Sincerely,
[Name redacted]
Customer Relations
American Airlines

So AA’s response is, still and forever, “Nothing.” Just “sorry you’re unhappy with us.” That’s pretty pathetic. Maybe a letter to someone in corporate will change something? Time will tell.

But the story continues with a coda:

So we got on our flight – for which we had paid for first-class service – in coach class. I suppose it would not have killed us, but it would have played hob with my wife’s sciatica. But when the cabin crew of BA 203 heard what had happened, these good people bent over backwards to make our flight home as comfortable as possible. We were moved up to the next section, sort of a Coach Plus affair – not as cushy as business class but with much more comfortable seats and better service – and taken care of with as much solicitousness as it was possible for this crew to offer. A particular shout-out to Simon, the flight manager on duty: he gets a gold star for caring and compassion. As a result, I would happily give BA my business any time I had the opportunity.

TL;DR – Avoid American Airlines like the plague, and consider using BA for your transatlantic needs.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Paypal Scammers still at it

Got this text message early in May (and I’ve had a couple of others since… these things seem to go in waves as scammers share ideas around.

Just look at the URL that you’re supposed to use to log in: “Erwanbikes”? It’s a real website in India, supposedly for renting bicycles. Either someone has embedded malicious code in a subdirectory of their website without their knowledge, or they are actively involved in the scam. There’s no way of knowing.

Either way, if a communication came from PayPal, the address to go to would be something at

PayPal.com

and not some random website. Be careful if you get messages like this and never click on the link unless you know or can tell where it has taken you.

If you’re curious, here’s where the rabbit hole goes:

Note the bogus (i.e. not PayPal) URL. Now they want your information.

Never provide information like this to an unknown entity. SS Number? Mother’s Maiden Name? Run away fast!

If someone wants your credit card information and you don’t know who they are, you’re being scammed.

Once you’ve given the bad guys access to your financial information and your credit card number, you are redirected to the legitimate PayPal website. Then watch your money disappear. Please don’t be taken in by criminal activity of this nature, and watch over your vulnerable loved ones.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Welcome to the United States. Remember to set your watches back… 50 years

Seen at the Facebook group “Memoirs of a Moddler.” My commentary is at the end.


I’m not pro-murdering babies.
I’m pro-Becky who found out at her 20 week anatomy scan that the infant she had been so excited to bring into this world had developed without life sustaining organs.
I’m pro-Susan who was sexually assaulted on her way home from work, only to come to the horrific realization that her assailant planted his seed in her when she got a positive pregnancy test result a month later.
I’m pro-Theresa who hemorrhaged due to a placental abruption, causing her parents, spouse, and children to have to make the impossible decision on whether to save her or her unborn child.
I’m pro-little Cathy who had her innocence ripped away from her by someone she should have been able to trust and her 11-year-old body isn’t mature enough to bear the consequence of that betrayal.
I’m pro-Melissa who’s working two jobs just to make ends meet and has to choose between bringing another child into poverty or feeding the children she already has because her spouse walked out on her.
I’m pro-Brittany who realizes that she is in no way financially, emotionally, or physically able to raise a child.
I’m pro-Emily who went through IVF, ending up with SIX viable implanted eggs requiring selective reduction in order to ensure the safety of her and a SAFE amount of fetuses.
I’m pro-Christina who doesn’t want to be a mother, but birth control methods sometimes fail.
I’m pro-Jessica who is FINALLY getting the strength to get away from her physically abusive spouse only to find out that she is carrying the monster’s child.
I’m pro-Vanessa who went into her confirmation appointment after YEARS of trying to conceive only to hear silence where there should be a heartbeat.
I’m pro-Lindsay who lost her virginity in her sophomore year with a broken condom and now has to choose whether to be a teenage mom or just a teenager.
I’m pro-Courtney who just found out she’s already 13 weeks along, but the egg never made it out of her fallopian tube so either she terminates the pregnancy or risks dying from internal bleeding.
You can argue and say that I’m pro-choice all you want, but the truth is:
I’m pro-life.
Their lives.
Women’s lives.
You don’t get to pick and choose which scenarios should be accepted.
Women’s rights are meant to protect ALL women, regardless of their situation!

roevwade #prochoice #abortion #women #womensrights #mybody #mychoice #mybodymychoice


This is one of the thorniest issues for me with regards to my own spiritual walk. I happen to believe that life is precious, and that the spirits that inhabit the bodies created on earth belong not to ourselves, but to God.

But here’s the conclusion I have come to, for my own peace of mind:

My beliefs prohibit me from eating ice cream in the park on Thursdays.
So don’t do it.
You don’t understand. Since I believe this, you can’t do it either.
*The same thing happens with civil unions.
Art by Peruvian cartoonist Carlín

What you believe your God or your holy books say is just fine, as long as it’s valid for you. Just you. 𝐘𝐎𝐔. Nobody else. Freedom of religion gives you the right to believe anything you want. It even affords you the privilege of preaching, teaching, exhorting, persuading, inviting, and enticing people to follow a path that you may believe brings humanity the greatest happiness.

But freedom of religion also guarantees freedom 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 religion. And there is a whole world of people out there who don’t ascribe to your particular flavor of sky cake or mine. What you or I 𝑑𝑜𝑛’𝑡 get to do is CRAM OUR BELIEFS DOWN ANYONE ELSE’S THROAT AND NULLIFY THEIR AGENCY (and yes, I’m SHOUTING to make sure you hear me). 𝐖𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲.

This is where the Republican Party and all its subsets, specifically the Evangelical Right, have gotten it completely wrong. If you believe abortion is a sin, well then, golly gee 𝑑𝑜𝑛’𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑜𝑛𝑒. It’s as simple as that. But just because your faith prohibits you from eating ice cream in the parks on Thursday, you don’t get to tell your neighbors that they can’t either. You don’t get to harass women, or take away their constitutional rights, or kill doctors, or bomb abortion clinics. The only thing you get to do is act for yourself according to the dictates of your conscience, and then shut up and let others do the same. If you are doing anything else, you have much to repent of.

For what it’s worth, if the GOP really wanted to reduce abortions – and they’re going to happen regardless of what legislation gets passed or what SCOTUS happens to say, they just won’t happen safely and many women will be irreparably injured and many will die – they would support organizations like Planned Parenthood, whose work prevents far more abortions than they facilitate, instead of trying to defund them and legislate them out of existence.

I have spoken.

The Burning of Vladimir Putin

In a Church in Ukraine¹, Vladimir Putin has been burning in Hell since 2017.

Note: Christian stuff here. If you’re a humanist, feel free to move along except for perhaps the cultural interest.

The painting, by graduates of an Academy of Fine Arts, was unveiled on Easter even in 2017. Backstory was provided by two Polish websites, fakt.pl and kresy24.pl.

According to the reports, the work shows Putin burning in hell with the Soviet coat of arms and other symbols of evil, according to the Ukrinform news agency.

“The idea was to leave the historical memory of something that happened in our history for future generations. And this fresco of the Last Judgment is probably so unique, because of the depicted figure who did a lot of evil to Ukraine,” said a pastor of the church. ²

Another website reported:

“The painting is right at the entrance to the temple. It represents doomsday. The flames of hell consume, among other things, the symbols of criminal regimes – the hammer and sickle and the swastika. The most striking, however, is the screaming man in a suit. The faithful have no doubts – this is Vladimir Putin on fire. However, a priest at the church has a different opinion: the character symbolizes an official who robbed the country.”²

I’m intrigued by some of the details of the painting.

  • The devil poking the symbols of Nazism and the Soviet Union with a pitchfork
  • the concept that not all clergy are evil, since one is being led to the light
  • the (purportedly) Russian soldier being bitten on the neck by a demon
  • an innocent child being protected by an angel and carried to Heaven
  • soldiers and churchmen and royalty along with regular people consigned to the flames.

I’d be curious to know if any of the other figures represent real persons in the minds of the artists, and what the writing above the mural and on the scroll says.

Spiritual leaders whom I respect have counseled us not to consign anyone to Hell even in our imaginations as all judgment belongs to God, but it is easy to understand these kinds of sentiments being expressed by people who have been oppressed by brutal regimes.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes

¹ The exact location and the identification of the Church are known, as well as certain other names and details, but I’m not including them in case the Russian army happens to read this and decides to reduce the church to rubble and ashes out of spite. If Ukraine is successful in resisting the unholy invasion by Vladimir Putin, I will return and update the post (if I’m still alive).

² Automatically translated from the Polish.

So many scammers

These ignorant jimakplons¹ pass their scam techniques from one to another, and each new scumbag tries it again. Please be aware of this kind of thing.

I got a Facebook message from a supposed friend that started out like this:

I have blurred relevant information because this is a clone of a real friend on Facebook who has nothing to do with this scam.

And I will usually respond, just to lead these jackasses down the garden path, and because I’m retired, and have the time to make their lives miserable.

I ask for more information, and I am directed to a facebook page where I can supposedly apply for this phony “grant.”

The page looks like this:

It looks respectable enough, but the photo was scraped from the Internet and is the picture of Bryan County, Oklahoma Sheriff Johnny Christian, who also has nothing to do with this scam. These criminals are so stupid it makes me want to rake my eyes out with a fork.

[Note: after I have done messing with these people, I always report the false profiles and pages to Facebook and have them taken down.]

So they ask me for a lot of personal information:

You are required to fill out the info one after the mother as normal messages on here, accurate information is needed for evaluation. 100% FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GUARANTEE 🇱🇷🇱🇷.
Full name:
Adress:
Full date of Your birth:
Male/female:
Contact information: Phone #, Pager #, Vp # etc:
Employment status (or Unemployed):
Phone Carrier:
Email:
Hearing or deaf:
Monthly income:
Single or Married:
Picture of a valid ID card:
Do you want cash or check:
100% FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GUARANTEE 🇱🇷🇱🇷.

… and I return to them with a lot of bogus garbage.

Yay! I’m qualified!

Congratulations Mr. wolfington Analemma. This is to let you know you are eligible for the United Nation and Government grant offer. Congratulation on your winnings as our verification team alerts that your data verification process was successful approved. 100% FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GUARANTEE 🇱🇷🇱🇷

But wait, we’re not done. Here comes the important part… I have to pay a “clearance and delivery fee” to get my “grant.”

You pay $1,000 and get $50,000,00 You pay $1,500 and get $60,000,00 You pay $2,500 and get $100,000,00 You pay $3,000 and get $150,000.00 You pay $3,500 and get $200,000.00 You pay $4,000 and get $250,000.00 You pay $4,500 and get $300,000.00 You pay $5,000 and get $350,000.00 You pay $5,500 and get $400,000.00 You Pay $6,000 and get $450,000.00 You pay $7,000 and get $500,000.00 You pay $8,500 and get $600,000.00 You pay $9,000 and get $750,000.00 You pay $10,500 and get $800,000.00 You pay $12,000 and get $900,000.00 You pay $14,500 and get $1000,000.00….. 100% FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GUARANTEE 🇺🇸🇺🇸

As I have said in my many other posts regarding scams and scammers:

NEVER EVER EVER PAY MONEY TO COLLECT A PRIZE OR A GRANT. EVER. JUST DON’T. IT’S A SCAM, AND YOU WON’T GET ANYTHING.

Based on the poor formatting and lousy English, it should be obvious to anyone that this is not a legitimate operation. But sadly, a lot of people are not highly educated or computer savvy, which is why I keep posting things like this. The scammers will never stop as long as they think there are people who will send them money, and sadly there are enough to make it worth their time.

The clearance and delivery fee is meant for the delivery department to start preparing your grant delivery information, and it has to be paid upfront. You are required to choose from the above listed offers available for you to claim from the grant office. 100% FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GUARANTEE 🇱🇷🇱🇷.

This is exactly why this kind of scam is called “Advance Fee Fraud.” Whether it’s a grant, or a prize, or a sweepstakes, or a tempting job offer… you always are required to pay money up front. And when the scammers get your money, either they will vanish into the gloom, or – if they think they can – they will put the touch on you for more, and more, and more. Fees, bribes, delivery charges, attorney retainers, anything they think you’ll pay for in the hopes of getting money. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if they think you’ll send it. I’ve watched it happen to loved ones of mine, which started me out on this little crusade.

kindly Confirm YES if you’re ready to make your payment right now so we can proceed on your delivery information and once your payment has been confirmed by the delivery department will provide you necessary information our fedEx delivery men will need at your doorstep… Note all payment will be paid in US dollars 100%FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GRANT 🇱🇷🇱🇷

They don’t waste any time getting you to loosen your purse strings.
Send No Money, EVER. By any means.

Do you have cash app or Zelle PayPal to make your payment easier for you now? 100%FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GRANT 🇱🇷🇱🇷

Kindly purchase an AMERICAN EXPRESS activation card of $14,500 (14*1000) and make sure you get the receipt of each card so I can activate your grant necessary documents for delivery sir.Understood? 100% FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GUARANTEE 🇱🇷🇱🇷

So now the game draws to a close. Of course I have no intention of sending these onioburus² a red cent, and I tell them so in no uncertain terms, with a variety of vulgar insults in English, Nigerian pidgin, and a couple of other tongues.

Be careful out there, and educate your vulnerable loved ones.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes

¹ To call someone a “jimakplon” in Benin is a terrible insult to one’s parents. It was defined thusly over at “Friends of Bonou”:

Question: Actually this reminds me: it is also true about an insult that Europeans would find laughably mild and that is really serious in Benin: it is when you are accused of being impolite: You loose face totally if you are insulted like that, apparently: Why?
Answer: Ah. It is because “Impolite” is a translation of a Fon word, “jimakplon.” = “Ji” means “born,” “ma” means “not,” and “kplon” means “teach.” So what “jimakplon” really means is “born but not taught.” You were born into this world but didn’t receive any social education. So this is serious because it is an insult against the parents of the person you’re talking to: “Impolite” is a slur on the parents of the person you’re insulting, who didn’t give them a social education, and this is a BIG face loss!

It’s a term I find entirely appropriate to describe these ignorant scammers.

² An Onioburu is the Nigerian term for a “gong farmer,” someone who empties latrines. Probably not a nice thing to say to anyone, but these scammers are scum.

Happy International Women’s Day

Today Google honors International Women’s Day with one of their doodles.

I am 100% in favor of honoring the women of the world. And, I have some thoughts. Consider these remarks by Morgan Freeman on the occasion of Black History Month:

MIKE WALLACE: Black History Month, you find …
MORGAN FREEMAN: Ridiculous.
WALLACE: Why?
FREEMAN: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
WALLACE: Come on.
FREEMAN: What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month? Come on, tell me.
WALLACE: I’m Jewish.
FREEMAN: OK. Which month is Jewish History Month?
WALLACE: There isn’t one.
FREEMAN: Why not? Do you want one?
WALLACE: No, no.
FREEMAN: I don’t either. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.
WALLACE: How are we going to get rid of racism until …?
FREEMAN: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?

2005 interview with Mike Wallace for television’s “60 Minutes” news magazine program

There has recently been an immensely favorable response to the Neflix series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” ¹ as well as rising awareness of the challenges still faced by women around the globe (astonishingly, in the 21st Century. Sadly, there are bastions of troglodicity (my own word) in my own country where people in power are bound and determined to keep women in a state of perpetual subjection and inferiority – notably the US Congress, SCOTUS, and legislatures in various “red” states around the nation, such as Texas, Alabama, Utah, and many others.

The Christian faith has a lot to do with it, especially religion of the evangelical sort:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour.”

Ephesians 5: 22-23

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain silent.”

1 Timothy 2: 11-12

But even in non-Christian societies, the pervasive attitude that women are inferior beings has been present for millennia – the following passage from one of my favorite short stories, set in Brazil, lays it out pretty clearly.

Then [the tribal chief] went on to explain—it took all night—that the tictoc nut was not like other nuts. Everything, said the chief, everything could think a little. Even a leaf had sense enough to turn itself to the light. Even a rat. Even a woman. Sometimes, even a hard-shelled nut. Now when the world was made, the deuce of a long time ago, man having been created, there was a little intelligence left over for distribution. Woman got some. Rats got some. Leaves got some. Insects got some. In short, at last there was very little left. Then the tictoc bush spoke up and begged, “A little for us?”

“River of Riches” by Gerald Kersh, 1958

Fast forward to our day and age and country, and these attitudes have some direct consequences within individual families, and not just in the less-tangible global sense of economic and social inequality. In other countries it’s worse still; female children in Afghanistan and India, for example, are more likely to be abandoned, sex-selectively aborted or killed in instances of infanticide than are boys. Human trafficking, largely perpetrated upon women and female children, continues to be rampant. The evil is mind-clenching.

If we’re going to be fair about it, every other day should be International Women’s Day… plus February 29th when it rolls around because women slightly outnumber men on a global basis. But until the recognition which they deserve is granted them in the same sense that Morgan Freeman expressed, I give honor – every day – to all the women of the world², who not only bear and raise the next generation but who have made incalculable contributions to humanity since the dawn of time.

This little essay may do absolutely nothing to improve the situation, but I felt that for myself, it was important to mark the day with more than just a congratulatory message.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes

¹ If you liked the series, read the books by Margaret Atwood, including The Testaments. They add a lot of things you’ll never see in the series and leave you with some reasons for optimism instead of bleak hopelessness.

² Cis-, trans-, or otherwise, in case you were wondering.

The Heat Death of the Universe

This lovely video, intimately crafted, was a delightful and wistful view into a time so far removed from us that it’s difficult to even get one’s head around. More years in the future than there are atoms in the observable universe, 8 * 10¹²⁰ years according to this imagining… but still fascinating.

Most of it is pure speculation, but it’s speculation based on mathematics that have been developed at this point in time, and real observations of the universe and what happens inside places like the Large Hadron Collider and other particle-generating devices.

Hasn’t happened yet.

If you’re not sure, the joke here is that some fear the energies generated within the Large Hadron Collider will be great enough to rip a hole in the fabric of space time, or to create a local black hole that will consume the earth. But thus far, this has shown no signs of happening.

The Large Hadron Collider

I’ve seen other such productions, equally thought-provoking, and all of them put me in mind of Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question.” It’s a similar imagination, although somewhat simplified because the concept of black holes would only be posited two years after the story was written, of what happens when entropy reaches its ultimate terminal state, and there is no energy left anywhere in the universe at all. It revolves around humanity’s quest to stop the heat death of the universe, by asking ever-more powerful computers, “How can entropy be reversed?”

The eternal response

It’s a beautiful story, and I won’t spoil it, because it has an unexpected ending – one that always brings a few tears to my eyes – and it gives me hope for the continuation of life; I just love Asimov’s writings. I recall with fondness a dramatization of this story that I saw long ago at the Hansen Planetarium, when it was still at its original home in the renovated Salt Lake Public Library at 15 South State Street in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The old Hansen Planetarium

Fortunately or unfortunately, right now all we have to worry about is destroying our world by allowing climate change to proceed unchecked, and insane despots like Vladimir Putain knocking on the door of World War III with his rapacious attacks on innocent neighbors.¹ But from a scientific standpoint, it is captivating to imagine what will happen to our universe when all of these concerns have become moot.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes

¹

I stand with Ukraine.