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.

Why do people keep supporting Trump no matter what he does? (Alternate title: Cruelty is the Point.)

Slightly bowdlerized from the original

From a lady named Jen. Seen at reddit, posted by u/xenophonXiphos, but shared widely elsewhere and originally posted (I think) on Facebook.

“You all don’t get it. I live in Trump country, in the Ozarks in southern Missouri, one of the last places where the KKK still has a relatively strong established presence. They don’t give a 🤬 what he does. He’s just something to rally around and hate liberals, that’s it, period. He absolutely realizes that, and plays it up, they love it, he knows they love it, and the fact that people act like it’s anything other than that just proves that liberals are idiots, all the more reason for high fives all around.

“If you keep getting caught up in why do they not realize blah blah blah and how can they still back him after blah blah blah, you are not understanding what is the underlying motivating factor of his support. It’s 🤬 liberals, that’s pretty much it. 

“Have you noticed he can do pretty much anything imaginable and they’ll explain some way that rationalizes it that makes zero logical sense? Because they’re not even keeping track of any logical narrative, it’s irrelevant, 🤬 liberals is the only relevant thing, trust me, I know first hand what I’m talking about. That’s why they just laugh at it all, because you all don’t even realize they really, truly, don’t give a 🤬 about whatever the conversation is about, it’s just a side mission story that doesn’t really matter anyways. That’s all just trivial details- the economy, health care, whatever. 🤬 liberals.

“Look at the thing with not wearing the masks. I can tell you what that’s about. It’s about exposing fear. They’re playing chicken with nature and whoever flinches just moved down their internal pecking order, one step closer to being a liberal. 

“You gotta understand the one core value that they hold above all others is hatred for weakness, because that’s what they believe strength is, hatred for weakness. And I mean passionate, sadistic hatred. And I’m not exaggerating. Believe me. Sadistic, passionate hatred, and that’s what proves they’re strong, their passionate hatred for weakness. Sometimes they lump in vulnerability, a compromised circumstance, or an overwhelming circumstance in there with weakness, too, because people tend to start humbling themselves when they’re in those circumstances and that’s an obvious sign of weakness. 

“Kindness = weakness. Honesty = weakness. Compromise = weakness. They consider their very existence to be superior in every way to anyone who doesn’t hate weakness as much as they do. They consider liberals to be weak people who are inferior, almost a difference species, and the fact that liberals are so weak is why they have to unite in large numbers, which they find disgusting, but it’s that disgust that is a true expression of their natural superiority. 

“Go ahead and try to have a logical, rational conversation with them though. Just keep in mind what I said here, and think about it.”

I’m seeing calls from right-wing “thinkers” to impeach President Biden, Vice-president Harris, and any and all Democrats. This is the sheerest nonsense; Tumblr user “biokitty” explained it this way (emphasis mine):

These are people who don’t understand politics as an entity that actually affects them, they can’t be reasoned with because they know being like that pisses off liberals. It’s honestly the most juvenile, immature tactic that elementary school-aged bullies use but they get a rise out of liberals repeatedly by doing it. It’s why so many of them comment on social media “trump 2020″ on posts that aren’t even about politics: because they know just posting that on a tasty video or something will piss off a bunch of liberals.

And now its “Trump 2024.” God forbid.

You see, Trump is an evil bastard, bred and raised by an evil bastard, a sociopathic serial narcissist and compulsive liar. His moral failings are too many to list here in full, but are well-documented. He’s a racist, sexist, abusive, heartless, bullying, spiteful, vengeful, cheating con man. And he deserved to be impeached, twice. And should have been convicted, if the Republicans in the senate had anything resembling decency, or a spine. But they’re all terrified of him and his evil vindictiveness, and their political careers are worth more to them than honor.

But calls to impeach the Biden administration are being made for one reason, and one reason only: spite. Whereas the Orange Screechweasel belongs in jail on any of hundreds of counts of moral turpitude, business fraud, and outright criminal behavior, President Biden is an honest and decent man as politicians go¹ and is working hard to undo the devastating damage the former guy did to our nation both domestically and internationally. He cares about you and me, regardless of our political affiliation. He wants all Americans to have a better life. But the alt-right, in their slavish, brainwashed devotion to the cult of personality that has sprung up around The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Formerly Disgracing the Oval Office, are mightily offended that their Golden Calf was so unfairly maligned, and they want revenge. Revenge on a political party whose platform essentially says “build a world that works for everyone, with no one left out,” as opposed to the one that says “🤬 you, I’ve got mine.”

The GOP has become a cult of personality, filled with wannabe autocrats who have chained themselves to a violent, hateful, despicable (and piteous) human, one who makes Richard Nixon look like Romper Room’s Miss Julie. If democracy is to survive in our nation, this faction must be sidelined and rendered impotent and irrelephant [pun intended.] Based on what I’m seeing in the way of Democratic disarray, the presence of two additional Republicans in the Senate – specifically Manchin and Sinema – and the growing efforts of GOP-led state governments to implement disenfranchisement strategies, I don’t have much hope for 2022 and 2024. We may be in for a very, very dark time before sanity once again prevails, as it always seems to do.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes

¹ Politicians in general have a less-than-stellar reputation, largely deserved. Most of them are a bought-and-paid-for bunch; Congressmen and women, for example, are encouraged to spend at least 30 hours a week calling potential donors for contributions instead of doing the people’s work. As long as Citizens United is in effect, corporations will in effect write our laws and determine the direction and tenor of our society. That said, there is a bell curve of decency, and from everything I’ve seen President Biden is a couple of “honorable” standard deviations from the mean.

Still lots of junk followers

Back in 2013, I wrote about “junk followers” on WordPress, fake or empty or commercial accounts who use bots to follow every blog they possible can in hopes of more exposure for themselves.

Just in case you were wondering, this is a scummy thing to do, right up there with spam-bombing other people’s blogs with backlinks to your own scummy commercial blog.

“Followers” who liked one of my recent posts. This is just skimming off the cream, there were many others.

I have over 1700 followers, and I’ll bet that I don’t have more than a couple of dozen who are really interested in my content. The rest are simply using tricks to improve their own rankings and drive web traffic to their sites. I don’t really care about numbers, since I have no intention of monetizing this blog, but a lot of my focus is trying to reduce spam, scams, and fraud, and warn people about how to avoid being taken advantage of. And this kind of thing is just like a burr under my saddle.

I had to delete about 20 of these, clearly produced by a robot.

If you’re a blogger, don’t do this. Don’t use bots to “like” or “follow” everything in site in order to boost your own presence. It stinks, and it makes you look cheap and disreputable.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

When a product reformulation goes bust

When I was 10 years old, my mom brought home a box of Life™, a new brand of cereal produced by Quaker Oats. I fell in love with it at once; it was sweet but not too sweet, crunchy but not too crunchy, with a little hint of softness to it, and it had a unique flavor that I found completely appealing.

Life is still out there, even though it has been reformulated a few times. But the worst change came in 1997 when Quaker introduced a “new, improved” Life, and then the world collapsed around their ears. I, like many other aficionados, wrote to Quaker screaming, “You’ve ruined my life!” It was completely different, nothing like the original, and it failed so spectacularly that the company went back to the original formulation and sent out an apology letter to those who had complained. Since then, except for the introduction or trial of a few additional flavors, their product has remained pretty much the same. But I wish I could have the original formula back.

Now we come to Tums™. I’ve suffered heartburn for a long, long time and always had to have a supply of something or other around to put out the fire (this was in the days before the beta-blockers and PPI’s.) Originally I used Rolaids (which absorbs 47 times its weight in excess stomach acid!) but always found it a bit too chalky for my taste, ultimately switching to Tums as an alternative.

I carry around this little jawn on my keyring that would hold 5 or 6 Tums of the 750mg variety, and was partial to the assorted berries flavor. I would buy them at WalMart, but for the last year or so they stopped selling these in favor of the 1000mg strength, which didn’t fit my keyring doodad.

So I was delighted to find a bunch of the 750 strength at RiteAid’s website, and bought 10 bottles, thinking that this would last me probably for the rest of my life. To my horror, they are nothing like the Tums I used to know. Chalky, bland, and with a flavor that made me think they had scooped up a bunch of the blue stuff you find in airplane toilets and turned it into tablets. The aftertaste was even worse.

Here’s a rundown of what changed:

Tums old and New Formulas

So essentially they added crospovidone, dextrose, magnesium stearate and maltodextrin, and dropped the mineral oil and sodium polyphosphate. No way to tell what changed in the “flavors” category, because they never tell you such things. But in all honesty, the result is the abomination of desolation, and now I’m stuck with 10 bottles of a product that makes me want to gag. I’d rather go back to Rolaids than keep using these.

I called Glaxo Smith Kline at their customer service number, and politely expressed my unhappiness; I’m aware the agent has virtually nothing to do with such things, but I was gratified that the agent had the honesty to tell me I’m not the only one who has called in to express dissatisfaction with the new formula. So it’s not just me.

GSK, I hope you’re listening.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Forest Honey

I am an inveterate honey lover. I’ve written about comb honey and chestnut honey, but one of my favorites is forest honey.

Waldhonig

Unlike regular honeys which are manufactured by bees with collected nectar from flowers, forest honey is made from honeydew, excreted by sap-sucking insects. In short, aphid poop.

Aphid surrounded by honeydew

While it might be off-putting to think of eating the excrement of bugs, otherwise known as frass, honeydew is in a separate category. And are honey-lovers any more disgusted by the thought of eating bee vomit?

Wikipedia describes Forest Honey thus:

Instead of taking nectar, bees can take honeydew, the sweet secretions of aphids or other plant-sap-sucking insects. Honeydew honey is very dark brown, with a rich fragrance of stewed fruit or fig jam, and is not as sweet as nectar honeys. Germany’s Black Forest is a well-known source of honeydew-based honeys, as are some regions in Bulgaria, Tara in Serbia, and Northern California in the United States. In Greece pine honey, a type of honeydew honey, constitutes 60–65% of honey production. Honeydew honey is popular in some areas, but in other areas, beekeepers have difficulty selling honeydew honey, due to its stronger flavor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey#Honeydew_honey

If you are, like me, an aficionado of honeys of all kinds and have never tried this delicacy, I exhort you to do so. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.