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USA: Your Future Rights, After The Election

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 24, 2016 in News & Opinion |

There is no one, I do not doubt, who is following the campaigns for election as President of the United States of America, who does not weigh up what the candidates say and what it bodes for the future. The bulk of the questions o the various debates, during the campaign talks, in the news media, concern what a candidate will do after they are elected to the office. Will they support this or that Right? Will they go against this or that former policy? Will they stop this, or start that?

Judging the candidates on their answers is a perilous venture: few if any are capable of keeping all their promises once they’ve been elected, regardless of to which office or position it may be: they is simply too much they do not know. There are too many things to be taken into consideration which have not yet happened. There is too much at stake.

Freedom Of Speech

Image Source: Always ShootingCreative Commons

One thing you can be sure of, though, is that the way they act, especially towards ordinary people, during their campaign gives a good insight into their character, and it is character as much as anything which will be important in the future.

So a person who claims that he can walk down Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, and no one will care, he will lose no sympathy from the voters, is a clear favorite for Unsuitable.

A candidate who throws people out of an open campaign meeting because they voice a different opinion, because they exercise their Right to Freedom of Speech, is a clear favorite for Unsuitable.

A man who is so full of himself that he cannot envision what an ordinary person goes through in their daily lives just to make ends meet, is a clear favorite for Unsuitable.

Let us just hope that the voters, when the time comes, regardless of who is chosen by the party elite for the nomination, remember this and look to their own future, their own Freedom, the own Rights, and leave the Unsuitable character out in the cold.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Listings: There Is A Simple Answer

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 23, 2016 in Internet |

I probably shouldn’t write this, because as soon as I hit publish all hell will break loose, but I haven’t been receiving much spam lately. This is, of course, a good thing and something which I am grateful for, something which I do not really want to change, even though I do not, personally, have anything to do with removing the spammers attempts from my site. Everything is automated, and there is rarely a mistake made.

Still, now and then I do check to see what is happening, just in case a real message has been mistakenly filed in the wrong bit of the web, and this often brings – as I have written before – amusing things to light. Not just the male-oriented spams for penis growth and enhancing drugs, but those in Chinese or offering me SEO help; notably from sites with a far worse SEO rating than this one has.

Today, on the post How To Lose Customers Fast I found this gem:

Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

The post is not about spam, but about paywalls and scaring potential customers off when you have an online shop, but it fits all the same. How likely am I to do business with a site that spams? On a scale of zero to zero…

The question is interesting, even if it is generated by a spambot: how to get listed, not just on Yahoo News, but anywhere.

For most sites which offer a unique search function, rather than linking to a specific search engine  to do the work for them, the answer is simple: you register. This is so for Google, for Bing and most of the others. You go to the main site, look up their webmaster tools, register, and wait for them to check you ought.

With spam, and spammer web sites, it is even easier. You don’t need to register at all! Rather, the good sites check you out automatically, through the googlebot, for example, and make a quick decision. Is this a real, quality site offering something for the masses? Has it been linked to any unwanted advertising campaigns? When I set up this site, and helped with various other ones, one of the first visitors was the bot from Google. As soon as the site was registered and the DNS set, they came for a quick look. They’ve been coming back regularly ever since, and I send them – automatically through an XML site plan – notification of all changes and additions.

The difference is, those registered automatically tend to hit the Google Blacklist, and it is not easy to get off it once again. Your site is linked to spam? In you go, and there you stay until you apply for a reassessment. And that, for us all, is a good thing.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Snowed In? How To Pass The Time

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 22, 2016 in Internet |

As the threat of an all-covering blizzard threatens, and the first snowflakes fall across the States, it is time to seriously consider what you are doing with your life. Here you are, stocked up with all the necessities of life, warmly clothed, stuck at home for the weekend. Public transport is cancelled, Washington DC has closed down, everyone has been told to avoid the streets. What better time to have a small introspective on your life, you goals, your dreams? Let’s be honest here, you’re not going anywhere.

Blizzard

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworksCreative Commons

Aside from Netflix and the various TV channels, who will only be talking about the weather anyway, what else is there to do? How about settling down with the family and playing a few games for the evening? Quality time, it’s called. You’ve got no excuse now.

Then again, you might want to start on that book which has been waiting patiently since Aunt Emma gave it to you for Christmas. Make her day: read it!

Or you could do something really worthwhile, if you happen to be on your own with time on your hands, and settle down to a really long, enjoyable read of all those posts here which you’ve always meant to read, but never quite got round to. This is the two thousand three hundredth.

You’ve got time!

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Moving To A Cashless Society

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 21, 2016 in News & Opinion |

Hot news since the turn of the millennium, and still no real move towards implementation: the Cashless Society. Once again the idea of a society which can exist without folding money has been raised as a possibility, this time by a banker who, we would imagine, is fairly well versed in the world of finance. His ideal, and that of many others over more than a decade, is that society will move away from carrying cash in their pockets, and use their cards instead.

This would, of course, make life simpler in many ways for many people, always assuming that everyone has a card which they can use, that everyone has a bank account. Since banks still, in many areas, have the right to turn down the opening of an account, this is not going to work for everyone. There will always be people who need, or are forced, to use cash to feed their daily lives. There are, however, a few other points which should be noted, ones which clearly set us away from becoming a society without money.

Cashless Society

Image Credit: FamZoo StaffCreative Commons

Using online banking is a hazardous activity: there is not a bank in the world, let alone a business storing credit card and customer details, which has not had problems with hackers, with information and data theft, with servers that crash and burn. For most of us, however, it goes even deeper, into the contents of our pockets and our bank balances.

Taking out two hundred dollars to pay for all those small things in life once a week is easy. We collect the money, pay our dues, and shop at will. That bagel or hotdog on the corner, a cup of coffee now and then, a snap idea for the kids, we’ve all done it, we always will. This costs us one transaction fee: the cost of a bank giving us our own money to use.

Now take the same series of events using just a card. How much does a bank charge in service fees for each transaction on your account? Ten cents? Twenty? Is the cost included in your monthly account fees? Every bank is different, but every single bank makes money from every single transaction which goes through an account, sometimes twice. I pay for a bagel with my card here in Germany, and the bank charges me twenty cents for the transaction. The business selling me the bagel is charged for using a cashless system, either per transaction at a flat rate, or as a percentage of the whole, plus a monthly fee for being allowed to use the equipment.

Multiply that one bagel by a week or a month until you’ve spent the two hundred you could have taken out in cash, for one transaction fee. How much has your bank made from your cashless purchases?

Banks and other financial institutions were originally founded to ease life, to make it simple for us to purchase, to borrow, to store our financial resources. Their goal today is to make money, without giving us, the customers, anything in return. We hand in our cash, and they cash in. A cashless society is good for the banks, who will live handsomely on the transaction fees, but for us, buying that bagel, it is a bad move, and a very expensive one.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Sweden: Insurmountable Problems

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 20, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

I can just imagine the poor souls in this photograph, scratching their heads and wondering what to do. It seems like a major problem, on the surface at least. How to get rid of a giant penis someone has managed to scratch – or whatever – on a small lake covered in, as the headline says, thin ice.

Clearly no one is going to wander out onto the ice, even though the artist must have done, and scratch it away again. So a few people stand around and ponder the problem.

Swedish Problems

Screenshot Source: The Daily Dot / Twitter

We, observing from a distance, can see what could be done, but are probably amused that those on the ground cannot find a solution. Are they allowed, in the park service or whatever the government department in Sweden is called, to think for themselves, or does someone higher up have the make the decision for them?

I can almost imagine someone, sitting a their office desk, enjoying a cup of steaming coffee, laughing into their drink at the dilemma. Perhaps, after a few hours allowing these people to freeze their assets off, someone really did give a hint as to what could be done to remove this artistic affront to all good taste. Something like: throw a stone or two and smash it?

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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How Do You Spot A Terrorist?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 19, 2016 in News & Opinion |

The title of this post is a serious question: how do you spot a terrorist? How do you know that one particular person is planning a terrorist attack, is a member of a terrorist organization, or has links to terror? How can you differentiate between a person who has what we might term fanatical views on government, religion and society, but no plans to take violent action, and a person who puts their words, their thoughts and ideals into an assault?

How can you tell the difference between a freedom fighter and a justified rebel? Between a person who will fight for change, and a person who will fight violently for change? The answer, in many cases, is that you cannot. Just by looking at a person, by their appearance or their clothing, you can tell what they have for a fashion sense or even which religion they belong to, but not what they intend to do, not who they support.

Face Of The Terrorist

Photo Source: Hani AmirCreative Commons

Society has been filled with fear, and not just by the terrorists and their attacks. We look at people in a different way, especially those who wear foreign clothing or the signs of their religion. We profile them with a glance, and make our minds up as to how dangerous they could be in a split second. We profile them automatically, according to what we perceive is safe and what is not, and that, more times than not, falsely.

We have been educated, in recent years, to be fearful of those who look different, those who dress differently. And yet all the terrorist activities which have befallen us over the last decade and more have been planned in secret. All the violent activists have gone about their daily work, and let nothing be known of their planned actions, exactly the same as many, but not all, mass murderers. What does a mass murderer look like? He or she looks exactly the same as any one of us. It is impossible to tell the difference.

So why do we condemn those who dress differently, automatically assume that some elements within our society have only the worst intentions? Why do we succumb to the fear-mongering, the constant threat warnings in the press, the constant playing up of one side against another within society? Why don’t we get down to the roots of the problem, our problem, and work to remove the reasons for terrorist activity?

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The View From North Korea

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 18, 2016 in Internet |

Anyone have any idea what real spin is? I don’t mean the facts and figures which some candidates push out during their campaign speeches, trying to gain office in some political backwater or, dare I say it, in the United States of America, but real spin?

North Korea on Twitter

Screenshot Source: DPRK News Service / Twitter

If anyone has managed to get it just right, then it is North Korea. Now, it may be the only thing which we can say they do properly, judging by all (Western) reports, but this is true expertise.

North Korea on Twitter

Screenshot Source: DPRK News Service / Twitter

For many this would appear to be a spoof or parody account, when you read through what is published on Twitter, you can’t help thinking otherwise. And, of course, there is no fabled Check Mark to show that they are authentic which, for some people, means that they are not being given their fair amount of Freedom of Speech.

North Korea on Twitter

Screenshot Source: DPRK News Service / Twitter

And even if it is a parody, which I don’t believe, it has such a level of humor in each and every Tweet, you cannot help but believe that they, whoever they may be, poring over news reports and presidential election campaigns, are reading things in a slightly different way.

North Korea on Twitter

Screenshot Source: DPRK News Service / Twitter

Could there be a glimmer of truth in what they write? Could it be true that our society is so debased that the British drink fecal matter, hummingbirds are eco-terrorists and it is easier to get heroin in the USA than grass?

North Korea on Twitter

Screenshot Source: DPRK News Service / Twitter

It makes no difference. What matters is that we can take time off from the more important tasks in life, and laugh over the seriousness of politics from a different angle.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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New York Values And Technological Advances

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 16, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

I honestly do not know what to say, or think. The telephone booth is being phased out, since everyone and his cat has a cellphone today, and needs to be replaced with something else. What better than a booth, complete with a laptop and free Internet connection, for men to masturbate in? And that in a society which has major problems with anything to do with sex.

Technology

Screenshot Source: Gothamist / Twitter

Will this make our world any better than it already is? Apparently several people – one hundred or so – have already tried the booth out. Did they have to queue? Was anyone looking at their watch, knocking on the door and telling the user to hurry up? How did they feel, seeing all those people hurrying by as they came out? The looks, the ‘we know what you’ve been doing’ nods?

The whole can be summed up in one word: sad.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Education: Staying Where You Are

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 15, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

I had the pleasure of being able to listen to a two-part conversation recently. Two-part in that it did not take place completely on the same day, and pleasure simply because it backed up a few thoughts I have always held about education and the attitude some people have towards their lives and chances.

Two women sitting together in a certain international burger bar over a cup of coffee. The one does most of the talking, lamenting her life and pushing forward attitude which I simply cannot understand. She talks about her work and the fact that she is a lesbian, as if it makes a difference. She talks about the chances of promotion – taking herself as a lesbian but confusing the term with feminist; they are not the same. Her main gripe is that her male superiors in the company keep on telling her that English would be a good move; that she should improve her school English and take an interest in the international side of the business.

She can see no reason English language should be of any use to her. The next promotion, which she is being considered for, does not need the use or understanding of this foreign language. It is a step up, but requires more experience than anything else. The position above this one does require English, but she’s not being considered for it, and the post has already been filled. So, what’s the point of pushing herself?

Education Dumpster

Photo Source: J BrewCreative Commons

A week later the same pair are back again: same time and place, and almost the same conversation. Apparently the glass ceiling has hit her on the nose; the men in her company, her employers, have played a bad hand and not promoted her, despite the fact that she claims she is more than well suited for the new position. Society, and this is the confusing of lesbian with feminist, is geared against women and needs to be changed.

She wasn’t promoted. Someone else got the job – and she doesn’t say whether a man or a woman. The reason given is that she doesn’t speak or write enough English, something she claims is not required. She is, for her understandably, annoyed with the system.

And the company? I tend to look at it this way: they are looking to the future. What is the point of promoting someone who has clearly shown she (or he) is not prepared to advance their education and prepare themselves for the future? Why promote someone who is going to be stuck in a middle management job with no prospects of coming any further? They have clearly taken the person who is more attuned to the company needs, and passed her over.

Now, had she been fully qualified for further promotion, I would be able to understand her point, but she isn’t and, even more, she has refused to take those necessary steps. The company is looking to the future, and she is not. Who can blame them?

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3

Charlie Hebdo: I Lost My Sympathy

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 14, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

For over a year I, and countless other people, have been sympathetic towards those who create and publish Charlie Hebdo, the satire magazine from Paris, over their loss. Following a terrorist attack, many of the leading lights in this magazine lost their lives in what can only be described as an act of terror, a clear assault on all the values of Freedom of Opinion and journalistic freedoms which we hold dear in the West.

With the latest edition of this periodical, I am no longer so sure that our – most certainly my – feelings were directed in the right direction. Not that I have any qualms whatsoever in condemning the attack, the murder of so many people, that will always be wrong, always be an assault against the principles of freedom.

Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

Screenshot Source: Newsweek / Twitter

This latest cartoon, however, tells a completely different story, portrays a way of thinking which should be alien to all right-thinking people. The publishers of Charlie Hebdo, having forsworn attacks against Islam through the depiction of Mohammed, have found a new victim for their wrath, for their vitriol, and it is an innocent who cannot protect himself, who cannot, through the loss of his own life, prove them to be wrong.

Rather than learn how hurtful and damaging certain misguided forms of satire can be, they have attacked where no attack should ever have been made. They have failed to learn from their own grievous loss, and assaulted the loss, the dignity and the memories of another family.

This is not journalistic freedom as I know it, nor is it fair comment regardless of what may have happened in Cologne over the New Year. It is a pathetic sign that some, no matter what they have experienced themselves, cannot come to terms with loss, their own or that of other people, cannot even bring themselves to rise above the mire and prove themselves better.

They should be ashamed: the entire Western world should be ashamed of this cartoon and, with it, the entire publication which, I now seem, is hardly worth the paper it has been printed on, is unprincipled and, in my opinion, no better than trash.

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