Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Music For A Political Convention

Eurythmics - Would I Lie to You?

Liar, Liar - The Castaways (1965)

Lies - The Knickerbockers

Lies - Rolling Stones

The Beatles' Taxman

The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again

AC/DC - Highway to Hell

Talking Heads Road To Nowhere Lyrics

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son (Lyric Video)

AC DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 1976

AC/DC - Moneytalks

The Yardbirds - Dazed and Confused (720p HD)

Dirty Laundry by Don Henley [News Parody]

"You're No Good" w/lyrics- Linda Ronstadt

The Undisputed Truth - Smiling Faces Sometimes - 1971

Abba - Money, Money, Money

The O'Jays - For The Love of Money (Audio)

Pink Floyd - Money (Official Music Video)

The Beatles - Money (That's What I Want)

The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil -HQ

The rolling stones-You can't always get what you want

Eurythmics - The King and Queen of America

The Kingston Trio - M.T.A.

The O'Jays - Back Stabbers (Audio)

The Beatles - Nowhere Man

The Pretenders - Back On The Chain Gang HQ Music

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising (Lyric Video)

What Did You Learn In School Today Pete Seeger 21 24

"Games People Play" - Joe South - 1969

Ending Music - "Day of Wrath"
Dies Irae, Dies Illa - Monks of the Abbey of St Maurice & St. Maur, Clervaux, Luxembourg

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Church Of Spies

“There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes 

another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow

Secret agent man, secret agent man”

So said Johnny Rivers in the theme to the '60s show Secret Agent. Mark Riebling draws a far different picture in his book Church Of Spies in which most of the subjects know each other and use their real names.

When I first heard of the book I thought it was some kind of silly Dan Brown novel with lots of nonsensical theories about cloak and dagger plots. It isn't that at all. It is a short, heavily footnoted (end notes, actually) page turner. The book is only 250 pages, but has an additional 125 pages of notes, index and sources.

Many of the people mentioned in the book will be familiar – at least by name – to most people; Pope Pius XII, Allen Dulles, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Hans and Sophie Scholl and of course Adolf Hitler. Less well known are people like Gereon Goldmann, a Franciscan seminarian who was drafted into the Waffen SS and later wrote about his exploits in The Shadow of His Wings, Rupert Mayer, a Jesuit who won two Iron Crosses in WW I, lost a leg for his efforts and was later jailed for opposing National Socialism, and Josef Muller the man who is pretty much the book's protagonist.

Muller, whom the Nazis considered “the best agent of the Vatican Intelligence in Germany” was a figure that sounds like the product of a spy thriller writer's imagination. As Riebling relates, he was arrested by the Gestapo for trying to kill Hitler.

“He refused to confess, however. 'Muller had nerves like ropes and dominated the situation,' a prison aide recalled. When guards unshackled him, he threw them using jujitsu. His resolve awed other prisoners, who had misjudged him as a regular Joe. 'To look at,' wrote a British spy jailed with Muller, 'he was just an ordinary stoutish little man with a florid complexion and drab fair hair cut en brosse, the sort of man, whom you would not look at a second time if you met him anywhere, and yet, one of the bravest and most determined men imaginable.'”

Many times the plotters would pass on intelligence about Hitler's plans, but he would change them and consequently their intelligence would be wrong. Several attempts on Hitler's life failed because of timing, equipment failure or because Hitler seemed to have a diabolical guardian. One time a bomb actually went off next to Hitler, but he survived. Another time the plotters could have shot him at a meeting, but instead planted a bomb on his plane disguised as a bottle of cognac. The bomb failed to go off which illustrates the maxim that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Although this is not an apologia for Pius XII, he comes off looking very good. His detractors waited until he was safely dead before claiming that he didn't speak up against Hitler. Nobody ever denounces the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Methodists, the Dalai Lama, Zoroastrians or the Baptists for their “silence,” only Pius XII.

Pius coordinated with Jewish rescue groups to help them escape Europe, funneling money through various countries, but the groups would not accept Catholics of Jewish descent so he could do little for the latter.

One of their plans that has backfired badly was a common currency. Muller theorized that if Europe was linked economically it would prevent future wars. They probably didn't foresee Europe becoming a unified mega-state in which national borders mean little or nothing and where the whole world seems to be entitled to move there.

Considering the number of plotters and their positions – many were high in the military – it is surprising that they were not discovered sooner. The book also shows that there were many who wanted Hitler gone, but were afraid to act or thought that fighting against their own government was treasonous. Seeing as how many of the plotters were captured and killed it is understandable why they didn't want to get involved. That's the way most people are everywhere.

As Johnny Rivers sang, “Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow,” many of them didn't, but a few did and Mark Reibling has written a riveting account of them.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Comcast - Xfinity Nightmare

If you're thinking of dealing with Xfinity/Comcast, maybe you should look elsewhere if you have any other options. They have printed at the bottom of an email they sent me “Expect Superior Service.”
If you should fall victim to such expectation you will be bitterly disappointed.

For the past several years I had been using Clear Internet, but the company was bought out and shut down. Xfinity/Comcast is available in my area, so I called them about service. They asked if I currently had cable and I told them I did not.

They said I could get 3mps (or something like that) service for $19.99 per month and a $59.95 installation fee. I called back a week or so later and went through the rigamarole of qualifying. I was given the figure of $87.00 for my first bill.

I was sent an email on December 14, 2015 telling me that the installer would come by between 8:00 and 10:00 A.M. the next day. As it so happened, I got a call about 9:30 saying that the installer couldn't arrive until 5:00 – 7:00 P.M. so I was going to get a $20.00 credit.

Around 6:00 or so the guy showed up and noted that I didn't have a cable. I told him that the company had asked me if I had cable and I told him I didn't. He estimated the approximate distance that they would have to run the cable at ¼ mile and called in to advise that they needed to send the construction crew to run the cable because of the distance. When he got off the phone I asked him how long it would be before the construction crew ran the cable and he said “About a week.”

I didn't see or hear anything else from them so I called on January 5, 2016 and was told that somehow the job had been put on hold, but that they were going to change the deal to 5mps for $9.95 per month for the first year. January 10, 2016 I got another email scheduling the installation for the following day from 5:00 – 7:00 P.M. I got a call that the guy could come early, which was fine, but when he arrived he said something about my not having a cable and I told him that the first guy had already advised them of that. He tried to run the cable, but thought that is was too far, so he called a supervisor who came out and measured the distance which was something like 350 feet, not the ¼ mile that the first guy had estimated and advised the company about. They stayed about 2 hours or so and took pictures or video and did a lot of talking on the phone. The supervisor said they needed to send the construction crew (which I already knew by this time) and that they would advise. Later that day a bucket truck from Comcast showed up, which I assumed had something to do with the construction crew, but when I walked toward him he drove off without saying anything.

I went in and called Xfinty/Comcast and was told that they would send somebody the next day. January 12, 2016. Next day around 2:00 P.M. a guy showed up and couldn't do it because I needed a “tap” which of course the company already knew, but kept wasting my time and the time of its subcontractors. I went back in and called to advise that they needed somebody that knows something about scheduling and coordination so that there is some minimum level of efficiency and competence.
January 14, 2016 a guy came around 10:55 A.M. and measured the distance again and told me it would be $468.00 to run the line.

Around Noon I called and got somebody named Lequan or something like that who could tell me nothing except that he would have the construction people call me. I told him I didn't need them, I wanted somebody who had some decision making power, but all he could do is to say repeatedly that he would have them “give me a call.” My biggest question was why the price went from $50.00 to $468.00 after they already knew the distance (actually the distance was much less than the ¼ the first guy had told them) they would have to run the cable. Why did they keep sending out people who didn't have the capability to do the job? After the first installer came, the company knew what the situation was.

I finally decided to call Clark Howard's help line ( 404-892-8227, M-F, 10am-7pm ET.) and they gave me the number (215 665-1700) of the Comcast Corporate Office. They probably should see if they can get the first three numbers clanged to 666 instead of 665, but that's for them to decide.

I called the office of the president and got somebody named Mariah who said she would assign it to somebody who would call me the next before 12:00 Noon. About 11:30 the next day somebody named Sam called and said she would investigate it and get back the next week, but that she had 60 cases so it might take several days, but to send her the email quoting the price, which I did. She gave me her direct number (615 874-7471) and told me she worked between 11:00 – 8:00 P.M.
Below is my fruitless correspondence with Sam G. with case number etc. omitted.

Sam: Here is the January 5, 2016 email. The first man came on the 15th of December and said he couldn't install it because the connection was about 1/4 mile away. This was sent after that (obviously), but the second man they sent (and the third) all had the same capability as the first. This is in reference to ESL ******. I hope you can read this as this is all typing on one line for some reason

To: Sullivan

Jan 21 at 8:14 PM

Dear Chris Sullivan,
I wanted to follow up with you regarding your request for new service. I had a chance to review the information that you provided regarding the installation charges. The $50 installation charge that was referenced in the letter only referred to the installation of your service inside the home. However, the quote that was provided of the $907 amount involves rebuilding on the outside of your property in order to make your address serviceable. Once that amount has been satisfied then the construction department can begin the process of rebuilding at your property to make it serviceable.
Comcast strives to provide outstanding customer service and I appreciate your bringing this matter to my attention.

Sam G.
Executive Customer Relations
Comcast | Big South Region
Office: 615-874-7471 /615-750-8953
Office Hours: Tue - Sat: 11am -8pm (CT)

To: Sam G.

If this is the case I should have been told that after the first person came in December. Why did they keep sending people who couldn't do the job? Why did they quote a price of $50.00 after the first installer had advised them of the situation?
Comcast has wasted over a month of my time and several hours of its sub-contractor's time. There seems to be an unbelievable level of incompetence in the scheduling and installation departments...
As far as the $907.00 quote, this is the first I've heard of it.

I got no response.

As a post script, I have no complaints about the sub contractors they sent out. All were unaware of the situation and had no way to deal with it. When I mentioned the incompetence of the office people one of the guys looked disgusted and said something like "Yeah, it's the people in the office." 
I had a modem that I had bought at Walmart which I returned. When I mentioned Comcast at the return desk the clerk launched into a diatribe about how they had made a mess of her bill and was charging her for something (a phone, I think) she didn't even have.