The Simpsons troll Trump

It’s not the first time. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

Your headphones are spying on you, lawsuit alleges

A customer is suing Bose. Kyle Zak claims the audio company is using its headphones to spy on us.

The proposed class-action suit claims Bose uses its wireless headphones and Bose Connect app to collect private data and sell it to third parties. Zak says Bose is violating the U.S. Wiretap Act by “secretly collecting, transmitting, and disclosing its customers’ private music and audio selections to third parties, including a data mining company.”

Two things about this lawsuit bother me.

One, Zak’s claim trips my BS detector – just a little bit. On the other hand, smart TVs have been caught recording and storing our conversations, so headphones spying on us isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

But the bigger problem is this: Social media and internet providers already gather this information and now, thanks to a new law, are free to sell it to whomever they wish without your permission. Going after Bose is a moot point.

We live in paranoid times. But one need not fear the CIA or NSA as much as marketing agencies. They already know far more about you than national intelligence. Big Brother isn’t working nearly as hard to root out dissent as big corporations are violating every last vestige of our privacy to show us targeted ads.

I am, however, keeping a close eye on my Keurig from now on.

The “horrors” of socialized medicine

During our visit to Cuba, the thing the people were most proud of was their healthcare system, despite the older equipment and difficulty in getting medication (because of the embargo). I had to go to the hospital while there, and because I wasn’t a citizen, I had to pay — about 15 bucks in American dollars. In England, people complain about their health care until they hear about America’s.

The US is one of the only countries in the industrialized world without universal healthcare. No system is perfect, all systems have their problems, but ours lags behind and is one of the most unnecessarily expensive in the world.

From the LA Times last November:

Op-Ed I had a health crisis in France. I’m here to tell you that ‘socialized medicine’ is terrific

Let’s get to the bottom line. In addition to my surgery, I underwent an MRI, had a probe inserted in my upper thigh and extended into my heart, twice had a camera shoved down my throat to take photos of my valve, and more blood tests, electrocardiograms and sonograms than I can count. For all this, I was charged nothing.

la-nismedley-1479430975-snap-photoI did have to pay for my hospital beds, TV, telephone, WiFi and meals. I spent a total of 47 nights in hospitals and rehab. During the second half of my stay at the Grands Prs, I switched from a double room to a single so that I would have more privacy to write. Naturally, that was a bit more expensive. In the end, this entire ordeal set me back about 1,300 euros, or $1,455.

Granted, it’s taxes that make such low out-of-pocket costs possible. My individual burden, however, is far more reasonable than an American might assume. I pay an annual income tax of about 23%. All things considered, that’s fine by me.

I sometimes wonder how my health crisis would have played out had I returned to America instead of deciding to stay in Paris more than 20 years ago. Me, a journeyman writer with no university or corporate insurance coverage. Would I have been kept under observation in intensive care for two weeks? Before Obamacare, my valve problem could have been considered a “pre-existing condition,” allowing insurers to deny me support for the surgery.

Of course, I will never know what would have happened had I chosen to settle in my native country instead of in France. But the choice I made might well have saved my life.

Read more

Life will appear to go on

There is a misconception that if we lose our rights life will grind to a halt. It’s not true. As we lose the right to collectively bargain, the right to have our votes counted, the right to say what happens to our own bodies, everything will still seem almost normal. As we lose the right to a clean and healthy environment, the right to safe food and water, the right of a free press, the right to not be discriminated against because of whom we love or what religion we believe in (or not at all), life will go on. Reality shows will continue to air, the latest fashions will still be in the stores, and pop stars will still lip-sync forgettable ditties. Life will go on. We’ll hardly notice the important things we’ve lost until it’s too late.

I fell off the horse

I fell off the horse. Everyone told me to just get right back on, but I didn’t do that. I sued the horse. Sued the pants off him. The lesson? Don’t try to ride horses who wear pants. I mean, c’mon. That’s just nuts.

This moment of free association brought to you by glue. Glue. It’s what’s for dinner.

Urgently needed travel ban doesn’t seem all that urgent

The new travel ban signed by President Trump takes effect in 10 days. This on top of the delays since the White House announced a new executive order was on the way.

Previously, the president had tweeted:

travel ban tweet

This doesn’t lend credence to President Trump’s insistence that the travel ban was urgently needed because “thousands” of “bad dudes” were pouring into the US with plans to carry out terrorist attacks.