Thursday, May 26, 2005

Utah Construction Company Turned Extortionist?

KSL, a local Salt Lake City based television station, reported that Kimball Roofing, now Kimball Construction, is suing its customers over increased billing fees that the clients don't want to pay. What seems to be happening is that Kimball is giving some of their customers a contact stating certain fees, and then jacking those fees up by two to three hundred percent. When the customers refuse to pay, based on their original contracts, Kimball is suing them. Kimball's excuses are ranging from a "computer glitch" to customers filling their rented dumpsters too full. One of their clients said they thought that the lawsuits were simply designed to frighten the customers into paying the inflated bill. That sounds like blackmail, to me. (Sounds like the latest RIAA tactics, too.)

It could be that Kimball Construction has just had some bad luck with a few customers, and that's what Kimball Strickland, the owner of Kimball Construction, has tried to claim. He says that the number of lawsuits he has filed is not significant compared to the large number of clients he has serviced, who he didn't sue. Trouble is, the reporter investigating the story found lawsuit after lawsuit against customers on behalf of Kimball Construction.

Whatever the truth will turn out to be in this case, one thing is for certain. I'm never going to do any business with Kimball Construction. I refuse to do business with a company that uses the legal equivalent of mafia thug tactics.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Utah One More Step to Becoming Nation’s Toilet

It looks like the Federal Government is at it again. They want to use Utah as their own personal toilet. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (no link to help your Google ranking, you shmucks) has rejected a Utah petition to stop the "temporary storage" of dangerous spent nuclear fuel rods at the Goshute Indian Reservation in Utah.

As a native Utahan, let me give you some background on this. A bunch of people who benefited from using nuclear power in other states don't want to deal with the fact that generating electricity from nuclear power plants creates radioactive waste.

The Goshutes are pretty divided on this whole thing as well. Their tribal leadership wants it because it's a way to generate revenue for the tribe, but many of the actual tribal members don't want such dangerous crap on their land.

The articles I've read mention that the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected the argument that the chances of a fighter jet from Hill Air Force Base crashing into the fuel casks makes the project too risky. What they failed to mention, and maybe the representatives from Utah failed to bring up, is that it is mere miles from a munitions proving site and bombing range. I'm more worried about a stray bomb landing near the fuels casks and spreading radiation throughout Tooele valley than I am about a fighter plane crashing into them.

The people that want to put this stuff here remind me of a neighbor who has eaten his dinner, enjoyed desert, turned it into feces, and don't want to use their own toilet. They want to come into my backyard and to take a dump instead.

Now, I think it's pretty rotten for a neighbor to bring his dog over and let him take a crap in your yard, let alone the neighbor himself. I certainly don't make a mess and then hand it over to my neighbors for clean up. So why are our neighbors? My personal feeling is that there is a federal disregard for both Utah and Nevada (except for Vegas). There's a lot of desert out here, and the less scrupulous leadership in other states think that the people who live out here in that desert don't matter. We didn't put them into office, so what do they care? If they get their way, they will continue to blissfully make their toxic messes, and dump them over the fence into our backyard.

Don't believe the feds want to continue to dump on us? Just think of the recent push to restart above ground nuclear testing at the Utah/Nevada test ranges. You know. The ones they tested the first atomic bombs at. The ones that caused all kinds of medical problems for the people living "downwind" of those test sites. They didn't understand the first time, and thousands of people were affected, dying of cancer and other radiation related illnesses. Apparently they haven't learned.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Parents are Responsible for Everything, But Don't Need to Know Anything

According to this Associated Press article the U.S. Supreme Court is getting ready to hear a case regarding whether or not parents needs to be notified if their children, under the age of 18 (defined as "unemancipated minors in the law), decide to have an abortion.

This just blows my mind. I have kids. They can't even get Tylenol from a school nurse without my permission, and yet they can go through a major surgical procedure without me even being notified? We're not talking about getting permission here, were talking only about notification. In a day where schools, and about every other organization, are afraid to do anything without parental permission, it throws me that this kind of thing comes up. Honestly! Kids have to get permission to ride the bus, get over the counter medicine from school health officials, pursue athletics, and just about everything else. According to this, though, they can get an abortion without me even knowing about it.

What do you want to bet that I'll be liable for the bill, though?

It gets even worse. I found out this morning that according to Utah law, any minor over the age of 12 can keep all of their medical and psychological dealings private from their parents if they want to. Health practitioners aren't liable to talk to me about anything that relates to the health and wellbeing of my teen-age children. How stupid is that? How am I supposed to help my child, and support them through difficult times, if my hands are tied behind my back?

I may have a solution to this one, though. You just have to be willing to wreck your credit rating. Got a kid, or rather one of their doctors or councilors, that doesn't want to talk to you because by law they don't have to?

Don't pay them.

You read that right. Don't pay them. By refusing to talk to you, they've given you no reason to suspect that there is a problem, and so how can they justify the bill? Call your insurance provider and notify them as well. That way they won't be paying for what can only be construed as false claims.

They may take you to court (these kinds of people are very litigious), and you may lose, but maybe not, either. Then they'll have to talk about the patient's (your kid's) condition to someone to justify their claims. Then you counter-sue them in the name of your kid (their patient) for breach of professional ethics and breaking the law.

Are they so high and mighty that they want to keep you out of the loop and hold you liable for things they won't even talk to you about? They want to play games with you instead of doing what's morally, if not now legally, right? Hit 'em where it hurts. Hit 'em where they'll pay attention. Hit 'em in their pocketbook.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

US Stalls While Kuwait Moves Forward

Most of the hoopla going on in the Senate and the news right now is about filibusters. Should we outlaw filibustering on Court nominations or not? I certainly don’t think so. I just think there are several Democratic senators that need to quit acting like children and get on with it. They seem to be simple obstructionists, wanting to stop anything the Bush administration tries to do whether it’s good for the country or not. You can read about the latest bit of political whining here if you want to.

But going nearly unnoticed is an event of spectacular import in the Middle East. Kuwait made a giant leap forward in terms of human rights in the Islamic world. They’ve given women the right to vote.

This is awesome. Yeah, some Islamic fundamentalists have snuck in a clause requiring future woman voters to abide by Islamic law, but so what? It’s still a big deal. Condolezza Rice is quoted in the article as saying, "It is a historic decision. It is a courageous decision. . . With the empowerment of women, societies are complete. And now as Kuwait moves toward other reforms, it will do so with its entire population active in that process." I agree with her.

So here we are, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, squabbling over petty political turf wars, while the people of Kuwait are changing the face of democracy in their country. Seems like we could take a lesson there.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek Backpedals

Buy now many of you have heard the story. Newsweek ran an article claiming that interrogators flushed a copy of the Qur'an down a toilet to intimidate Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay. It turns out that their sources were pretty bad. Something like, "The Pentagon didn't confirm it, but they didn't specifically deny it either, so it must be true."

Isn't this the kind of shoddy reporting that got Dan Rather in trouble? The difference here is that Dan may have ended his career, but Newsweek caused a riot and got 17 people killed.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think Newsweek should be held directly responsible. They didn't pull the triggers and kill a bunch of people, nor ask anyone to do it for them.

But they may as well have. What did they think was going to happen? Did they think an immature nation, populated with a culture having a violence seeking past, weren't going to over react? Most Muslims are nice people, and would never think of committing murder. But guess what? Newsflash, people! There is a small segment of that society that are ready to kill people in the name of Allah, whether Allah wants them to or not! Telling someone that is willing to kill for their religion that someone else, whom they already consider to be the devil (the U.S.), desecrated a copy of their holy writings is going to piss them off! For some of the people in the Middle East, there is no such thing as peaceful demonstrations. They just aren't used to the idea of having an alternative way of voicing their opinions. Instead, they pull out their guns and start shooting!

No, instead if good reporting, Newsweek saw an opportunity to sell more magazines by creating fear, doubt and controversy. They decided to light a powder keg instead of checking their sources beforehand. That's what a publishing company is about, after. Making more money for a few stockholders, not good reporting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Real Credit Card Thieves

I've always considered myself a conservative. Not a Democrat, not a Republican, not a Libertarian, not a --- fill in the blank with whatever political organization you care to, but still a conservative. What I mean by that is I get really worried when people start proposing change for the sake of change, and when the government starts mucking about too much in my business.

I also don't buy this line of "you can't legislate morals." Of course you can. We already do. With little exception, all laws are about legislating morals. If murder isn't a moral issue I don't know what is.

Having said that, you can probably guess that most Democrats and so-called "liberals" and I don't get along very well. We don't see eye to eye on a lot of issues. But that doesn't mean I buy everything the Republicans (and other so-called "conservatives") say without questioning it. The Republicans make me just as angry as the Democrats, just not as often.

Knowing this, it should also be no surprise that much of what is written over at the newly published Huffington Post site just curdles my small intestine. I want to know what both sides are saying, though, so I force myself through much of this unsubstantiated crap.

But, once in a while I find something that really hits a chord with me.

I don't know much about Elizabeth Warren and she probably doesn't care one whit. She wrote an article that hit me to the core as being absolutely dead on right, though. She's talking about the dastardly way the credit card companies are ripping us off. She points out:

Let's say you buy a new washer and dryer. The sticker says $2200, and you pay $2200. If the store called you up two months later and said, "We changed our minds. We want $4,000 for those babies," you'd tell them to jump in the lake. But let's say you put that washer and dryer on a credit card that charges 6.9% interest, and you expect to pay it off over the next 36 months. Next month, when the credit card company changes the interest rate to 29.9% interest (which is just like an $1800 price hike ), you can't do anything about it.

Head on over and read the rest of the article. You'll find it interesting.

Credit card companies are committing highway robbery. If you haven't figured it out yet, the fees they charge you are designed to keep you in debt forever if you just pay the "minimum amount due." Please do yourself a favor. Pay off your credit cards as soon as you can. If at all possible, never use them again. Freedom from debt is just that - Freedom.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

More RIAA Madness

I first became aware of this over at the digitalmusicweblog. It turns out the Cary Sherman, the president of the RIAA, wrote an opinion piece over at the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. Apparently the RIAA is suing a bunch of students for illegal file sharing using Internet2, a high-speed network designed to share information between universities. Nothing new here. The RIAA wants us to believe that file sharing is a vile activity just shy of murder. What caught my attention, though, was this letter to the editor written by Roger Dannenburg, an electronic music professor at Carnegie-Mellon. He points out that Sherman's article is clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Read and be enlightened.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Just what were they thinking?

Get this. A group of scientists at Oregon Health & Science University did a study that showed that high doses of vitamin C might counteract some of the negative effects of nicotine on unborn babies. The article is clear to point out that pregnant women shouldn't smoke, but then goes on to say that by taking large does of vitamin C their babies might turn out OK after all. At least that's what happened with the monkeys in the research project.

Why do this kind of research? What's the point? Why even fund it? It is interesting to note their belief that the effect is because of vitamin C's anti-oxidant properties, but won't the findings still push some smokers into a false sense of security about the detrimental effects of smoking? It's crazy! We already know that smoking is bad for you over all, and even worse for unborn children. What's the point? Are we simply funding ways to make it OK to screw up our lungs, and the lungs of our unborn children?