Monday, January 26, 2009

Chase credit cards are stealing from you, and the company is evil

I got one of those balance transfer offers from Chase from a few years ago when I was in college. I used it to transfer a bunch of debt to a fixed, low-interest, no-fee credit card for "the life of the loan".

Of course "life of the loan" actually means "until we feel like changing things".

One trick is they'll boost your interest rate, and hope that you don't notice. If you do notice, you can write and "opt out" of the new interest rate. That's happened to me a few times with Chase.

But this latest trick I can hardly believe is legal, and I will be calling my Congressman about it, and I hope anyone reading this will do the same thing.

Instead of boosting the interest rate, which cardholders can choose not to accept, they add a monthly "fee". Because it's not based on the interest rate, the customer service rep told me, cardholders do NOT have the ability to opt out.

So now I have this credit card that charges me an arbitrary fee every single month that was NOT part of the original agreement, and that I can't opt out of, and even if they close the account the fee continues to rack up until the balance is paid in full.

I hope Chase bank crashes and burns, and I hope the greedy thieves behind this ploy have their homes broken into and something stolen from them every single month, because that's what they're doing to us cardholders.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

do NOT go see Batman The Dark Knight in Imax at Discovery Place in Charlotte

The presentation just about ruined an otherwise incredible film.

1- The Discovery Place screen is Imax Dome (formerly known as Omnimax), not Imax. This means the screen is more curved and tilted. Which means images get distorted, and it's really hard to keep up with the action sequences. And your neck is going to hurt at the end of the film.

2- The seats are so close together that you HAVE to stand up to let someone by. So when Joe Blow needs to go to the bathroom, you can't just scrunch up and let him walk by. You have to completely get out of your seat.

3- The Discovery Place people treat Imax more like a rollercoaster than a movie. They killed the ending musical score prematurely with an announcement from the voice-of-God narrator about being careful when you exit the theater. What the heck? The movie isn't over. Shut up.

4- No credits?!? Are you kidding me? How do they even get away with that? One of my favorite parts of a movie is enjoying the score while the credits roll. Call me a film snob, but I believe the movie isn't over until the last credit rolls.

DO NOT GO SEE BATMAN IN IMAX DOME AT DISCOVERY PLACE. That is not how a movie should be experienced.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Rustam Sheridan lost his wallet in Dilworth, Charlotte


Rustam Sheridan here. I lost my wallet in Dilworth. If you are a good Samaritan who picked up my wallet, and found this page through a google search trying to find me, please contact me at 704.526.7857, or

Thank you!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mike Munger on NC ballot access

Mike Munger is a Wake Libertarian and the chair of PoliSci at Duke. He
will be delivering the following commentary on UNC radio next week
(Monday, possibly?); it will be broadcast on all UNC affiliates. Thanks to Susan Hogarth for forwarding this to the LPNC list serv. Unfortunately, the end of the commentary got cut off. But it's still an excellent read, and Dr. Munger makes great points all the way around.


Third Party Ballot Access Commentary
Mike Munger

Hey, North Carolina: We're near the top! And we've got our eye on
the summit: number one.
Unfortunately, this is not a list of winners. By two different
measures, North Carolina has among the most restrictive and
undemocratic ballot access laws in the nation. We are in violation of
United Nation rules on ballot access, and fall well short of the
requirements for "Free and Fair" elections that we publish and use to
evaluate nations like Nicaragua or the Philippines. It's great to be

Consider some examples of the scope and impact of these restrictions:
1. Ralph Nader was kept off the ballot in NC in both 2000 and 2004.
Now, you can be for Nader, or against him, as a Presidential
candidate, but how can you argue that the citizens of North Carolina
should not be allowed to make their own choice? The real travesty was
denying Nader ballot access in 2000. He was the official candidate of
the Reform party that year, a party that had won double digit
percentage vote totals in many U.S. states in the previous two
elections. That's pretty outrageous.
The North Carolina law has it completely backwards: you have to get
10% of the vote as a precondition to get on the ballot. How does that
work, exactly? Real well, perfectly, from the perspective of the two
so-called major parties. Not so well, from the perspective of
citizens who would like to have a choice, rather than just be an echo.

2. Of course, there is another way to get on the ballot. A party, or
a candidate, has to collect signatures on a petition. One hundred
thousand signatures! After every election. You either collect one
hundred thousand signatures all over again, starting at zero, or you
get wiped out. What the aspiring party has to do is spend months of
time, and all of its meager cash, standing on street corners and
begging. Not just once. Every time there is an election. Until a
recent change in the law, it was worse: The language on the petition
made it sound like the signer had to support the new party, or
candidate, perhaps even financially.
There are two different questions here: do you, as a voter, support
the Green, the Socialist Workers, or the Libertarian Party candidate?
How would you know? Who are they? That is just too difficult a
hurdle for a party without ballot access to jump over. The second
question, the one that the policy should focus on, is this: do you
think that we need more choices, more alternatives, to the hide-bound,
insulated, and out-of-touch political establishment in this state?

Full disclosure: I'm a registered Libertarian. Or, I should say that
I was. Now I am an outcast, a pariah. I hope I don't have to go sew
a pink "L" on my shirt as an outward sign of my shame.
The state of North Carolina has just decided to strip my right to
register or vote as a Libertarian. Now, they are being fair about it:
they deny the same right to the Greens, the Natural Law, the
Socialist Workers, or any other third party. In the particular
instance, decided this week, consider this: There were 13,000 of us,
actually registered as Libertarian. There were more than 50,000
people in our state who voted for Barbara Howe, the Libertarian
gubernatorial candidate, in 2004.
Do we "need" a third party? Do we need all that clutter, and choice,
on the ballot? Suppose you asked Ford and General Motors if the
American public "needs" more choices. They'd say no. We don't need
those Toyotas, and Lexus sedans, and nice little Honda hybrids. We
don't even need Dodges, Jeeps, Chryslers, or other American cars. Two
choices ought to be enough for you little people.
Well…why? Competition keeps the big boys honest, or at least lets
people choose something else if the big two become too powerful and
greedy. But North Carolina has used ballot access restrictions to
prevent any challenges to the big two. You are either a Republican,
or a Democrat, or you are out of luck. How is that working out for
you, citizens?
This is a truly nonpartisan issue, one of the few I can think of. As
a matter of policy, in my opinion, this is an easy fix. Consider:

1. The ruling party oligarchy should not be able to decide which
parties are legitimate and which are not. But here are the thoughts
of Richard Morgan, then House co-speaker: This is how (I'm quoting
North Carolina maintains stability within its political system.
Although there are some legitimate political parties in existence that
have not yet met this threshold in North Carolina, there are even more
parties that are illegitimate that this policy has been able to keep
at bay."
Keep "illegitimate parties at bay"? I think I preferred it in the
original German, frankly. If we need ballot restrictions to keep
certain parties away on election day, we must be afraid that people
might actually vote for such "illegitimate" parties. To me, the fact
that people might vote for them is what would prove those parties are

2. These ballot access restrictions are not some part of our sacred
heritage. Until 1981, North Carolina had much, much less onerous
requirements. We haven't even had these laws 25 years yet. It is an
experiment that has harmed our state, and rendered our political
system inert, our government calcified and unresponsive. Let's get
rid of the restrictions, dropping the petition and percentage
requirements to 1 of the electorate or less. The average in other
states is even lower; ½ of one percent of the electorate gets your
party on the ballot. That is 1/20 of our present requirement in North

3. The experience of other states shows that the scare tactics used
by opponents are flat wrong. No state with a requirement of at least
5,000 petition signatures has ever had even ten choices on the ballot.
Very few states have as many as four alternatives.

The problem is not with the parties that want to offer choices, or
with the citizens who would like to see some challenges to the status
quo. The problem is with the overly restrictive and repressive laws
that keep all of us from having a voice in the first place. The
political repression hall of fame is not a list how we should wan

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Message from a film snob

Tonight I finally got around to seeing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Rather than post a boring detailed review of the film, I'll just say that it was better than I expected, but of course nowhere near as funny as the book. The best parts were where it stayed true to the book. The worst parts were where it strayed (Malkovich? Huh?).

But I would like to make a few announcments on the subject of film-going in general.

1) Shut up in the movies. Please. Just shut up. Don't talk to your friends next to you every ten minutes. Instead, shut up.

2) If you're a geeky fan-boy, don't let everyone around you know. They don't care. No one cares that you spotted the cameo by the Marvin android from the BBC mini-series. No one cares that you recognize Simon Jones. No one cares that you know what a hoopy frood is. You're not getting any more nerd points. And you certainly don't have any more of a chance to score tonight having pointed it out. Try a little modesty instead, and think it to yourself. Pat yourself on the back for having such a keen knowledge of all things Nerd. Star Wars comes out in 11 days, but I fear I'm going to have to wait 3 weeks into its run before I can venture into the theater to see it. Any earlier and all the fanboy dorks sporting lightsabers and yelling "Hey! That's Grand Admiral Thrawn!" will drive me to attempt suicide. So, again, see point number one and just shut up.

3) When the last picture-image of the film, in this case Douglas Adams's head, fades to black, that doesn't mean the movie is over. The movie isn't over until the credits finish rolling and all audio ceases. Credits are an important part of movies. I speak from experience, and I can tell you an aweful lot of thoughts are put into how they look. So watch them. You might learn something. Or, if you don't want to watch them, at least see number one again and shut the hell up while they're rolling so the people that want to see them can do so. This doubly goes for employees of the theater who like to come in and start cleaning the aisles and chatting with each other before the credits are done. Please. I paid my six bucks. Shut up and wait for me to leave. Oh, and if you left before the credits finished rolling during H2G2, you missed a funny scene anyway. Ha ha, joke's on you. Stay for the entire movie next time.

Sheesh. It's to the point where I don't even want to go to the cinema anymore. It's too frustrating.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars

Won't be long now. I've just finished watching The Clone Wars cartoons (most excellent), and I'm in official geek-fanboy-hysteria mode in anticipation of Revenge of the Sith being released next month.

Here's an article from someone more geekishly fanboyish than even me. It's a hypothesis that George Lucas has an M. Night Shyamalan-style twist in store for us: Darth Vader is actually Obi-Wan Kenobi, not Anakin Skywalker. It uses evidence from the original trilogy and episode 1 to back up that claim. Makes some sense, but given how straight-forward of a storyteller George Lucas is, I really doubt he has the ability to make a twist like this. It's a fun read, however.

The Star Wars twist, part 1
The Star Wars Twist, part 2

Friday, April 22, 2005

A bunch of tarholes go to the NBA

So how will the team do next year without Matt Doherty's recruits? I dunno, we shall see.

I wonder if ACC Hoops (Carolina Hoops) will update now. Still waiting for an announcement about the coaching hire at UVA.