Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!


Nate Silver on Fox News

His comment was specifically about the show Fox and Friends: "Wow. I've never met people more terrified of what might happen if they actually tried to engage in a rational discussion." The substance of his post on had very little to do with Fox at all (it was about the insignificance of Obama's favorability ratings being above or below 50%). His statement was pretty much just a throwaway comment at the end. Nonetheless, he's a very impressive and rational blogger and that's a pretty strong statement.


Logo history

I forget where I found this surprisingly interesting article from Fortune about "new" (a very relative term in this case) logos. Consumers found Tropicana's new logo revolutionary? Who woulda thunk it?

Why Neoconservative Pundits Love Jon Stewart

One of my friends on Facebook posted a link to this article from New York magazine. No wonder I like Jon Stewart so much!

Back in April, when the debate over torture was roaring, Jon Stewart invited Cliff May, a national-security hawk and former spokesman for the Republican Party, to come on The Daily Show and defend waterboarding. May was hesitant. He thought Stewart would paint him as a crazy extremist. The audience would jeer. It would be a disaster.... "

But May had a change of heart after soliciting advice from his friend Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard. "Kristol told me: 'You'll be pleasantly surprised. He doesn't take cheap shots. Jon is smart. You'll do just fine.'" Kristol proved to be right. Stewart's interview of May — a crackling, lengthy debate about where to draw the line between freedom and security — produced one of the most clarifying discussions about torture on television. "Literally, this is the best conversation I've had on this subject anywhere," May told Stewart.


Franco Harris for U.S. Senate?

This speculation comes from today's (in the last paragraph of the post), and yes, this is the same African-American-Italian who was a key player in the Pittsburgh Steelers' "Immaculate Reception" in the 1972 NFL play-offs!

Two cyclones feeding on each other

Today's very cool Earth Observatory Daily Image was taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Cyclonic Clouds over the South Atlantic Ocean

World's largest garbage dump?

As reported on in an article in today's Times (of London): "[T]wice the size of Texas and created from six million tonnes of discarded plastic."

The toxic soup of refuse was discovered in 1997 when Charles Moore, an oceanographer, decided to travel through the centre of the North Pacific gyre (a vortex or circular ocean current). Navigators usually avoid oceanic gyres because persistent high-pressure systems — also known as the doldrums — lack the winds and currents to benefit sailors.

Mr Moore found bottle caps, plastic bags and polystyrene floating with tiny plastic chips. Worn down by sunlight and waves, discarded plastic disintegrates into smaller pieces. Suspended under the surface, these tiny fragments are invisible to ships and satellites trying to map the plastic continent, but in subsequent trawls Mr Moore discovered that the chips outnumbered plankton by six to one.

The damage caused by these tiny fragments is more insidious than strangulation, entrapment and choking by larger plastic refuse. The fragments act as sponges for heavy metals and pollutants until mistaken for food by small fish. The toxins then become more concentrated as they move up the food chain through larger fish, birds and marine mammals.

“You can buy certified organic farm produce, but no fishmonger on earth can sell you a certified organic wild-caught fish. This is our legacy,” said Mr Moore.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch - Mapped

[Via today's Daily Beast Cheat Sheet.]

Gitmo detainees to be tried by military tribunals?

Thursday, the New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested that "[a]s many as 100 detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could end up held without trial on American soil." The article went on to note:

The Obama administration is debating how to establish a legal basis for incarcerating detainees deemed too dangerous to be released but not appropriate to be tried because of potential problems posed by their harsh interrogations, the evidence against them or other issues.

Then yesterday, the New York Times reported that "The Obama administration is moving toward reviving the military commission system for prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, which was a target of critics during the Bush administration, including Mr. Obama himself." This article went on to say:

Continuing the military commissions in any form would probably prompt sharp criticism from human rights groups as well as some of Mr. Obama’s political allies because the troubled system became an emblem of the effort to use Guantánamo to avoid the American legal system.

Officials who work on the Guantánamo issue say administration lawyers have become concerned that they would face significant obstacles to trying some terrorism suspects in federal courts. Judges might make it difficult to prosecute detainees who were subjected to brutal treatment or for prosecutors to use hearsay evidence gathered by intelligence agencies.

Obama administration officials — and Mr. Obama himself — have said in the past that they were not ruling out prosecutions in the military commission system. But senior officials have emphasized that they prefer to prosecute terrorism suspects in existing American courts. When President Obama suspended Guantánamo cases after his inauguration on Jan. 20, many participants said the military commission system appeared dead.

But in recent days a variety of officials involved in the deliberations say that after administration lawyers examined many of the cases, the mood shifted toward using military commissions to prosecute some detainees, perhaps including those charged with coordinating the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The more they look at it,” said one official, “the more commissions don’t look as bad as they did on Jan. 20.”

I find this worrisome [via yesterday's and today's Daily Beast Cheat Sheet respectively].


Last night's Presidential news conference

I had two strong reactions.

First, with regard to torture, President Obama said:

What I've said—and I will repeat—is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.

I am absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do—not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways—in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are [emphasis added].

I generally liked this repudiation of torture. But I was disappointed in the rationale he used (the italicized bit). I wish he had said instead that we do not torture because it is morally wrong. That's why it's illegal. At first I was thinking that he had missed an opportunity to make the moral case, but then I realized I was presuming that he really agreed with me. Maybe he doesn't.

Second, I was surprised that President Obama seemed to tip the government's hand on their approach to the danger of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands. His initial response to the relevant question was:

I'm confident that we can make sure that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure. Primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands. We've got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation....

We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.

The first half of his response to the follow-up—that he was not going to engage in hypotheticals—was what I expected. The second half, giving reassurance as to what was not going to happen, only seemed to emphasize the existence of contingency plans.

Q: But in a worst-case scenario...

OBAMA: I'm not going to engage in...

Q: (OFF-MIKE) military could secure this nuclear...

OBAMA: I'm not going to engage in—in hypotheticals of that sort. I feel confident that that nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands.

I have no doubt that such contingency plans exist. I am not surprised that they do. I am surprised that the President was willing to talk about them.


Order return rip-off, not!

Last month I posted about my expectation of being ripped off by TigerDirect for the cost of shipping me the wrong product, which I returned to them. While it was true that they only credited me with the cost of the part—$14.99—rather than that plus the shipping and handling—an additional $6.99—I'm happy to report that after I wrote them a letter of complaint they credited my account for the additional $6.99 and sent me a letter:

Thank you for contacting us regard your concerns. We apologize for any inconvenience you experienced. Please be advised that as of 04/01/09 a refund in the amount of $6.99 has been processed for your original shipping charges... has a longstanding service commitment to our customers and their satisfaction is very important to us.

Once again we apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

When does GM count its cars as being "sold"?

In recent discussions of General Motors' plan to shut down factories for up to nine weeks this summer, I heard that GM recognizes revenue when vehicles are manufactured, not when they're sold. If I heard correctly, this practice is in accord with reporting standards set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), who proclaim—apparently on every page of their website—that they are "serving the investing public through transparent information resulting from high-quality financial reporting standards, developed in an independent, private-sector, open due process."

I just have a couple of questions. The ability to report revenue in this way serves the investing public how? Do we need any more evidence that big business is vastly under-regulated?


More on AIG bonuses

A few days ago, Nate Silver had a good post over at FiveThirtyEight on this subject:

Just think about some of the implications of this [the 90% tax on bonuses passed by the House].

A senior engineer at General Motors, who shepherds the production of a new hybrid vehicle that will turn out to be a best-seller, shouldn't get a bonus for that. Really?

Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan, who has managed his company's assets adeptly and kept it mostly off the taxpayer's dole, is no more deserving of a bonus than an AIG crook. Really?

An mid-level investment banker at Morgan Stanley, who works her butt off to persuade her bosses to facilitate a deal for a new wind-power company that turns out to be a big economic and environmental winner, should have her incentive compensation taxed at 90%. Really?

An administrative assistant at PNC, who is volunteering to work 70-hour weeks because of cutbacks in the company's staff, deserves a Christmas Bonus -- unless her husband happens to be a lawyer earning $250,000 per year, in which case it should be taken away. Really?

If it weren't for bad luck...

From Tuesday's Daily Beast Cheat Sheet:

Invincible Japanese Man Found?

Atomic bombs have been dropped twice in history. Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived both of them. Yamaguchi, 93, is the first person to be certified a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. He was in Hiroshima on a business trip on August 6, 1945. After suffering serious burns, he returned the next day to his hometown of Nagasaki, which was bombed three days later. Approximately 210,000 people died in the attacks.


Quote without comment: responding to increased sexual assaults in combat zones

The military recently reported a 25% increase such assaults in the last year. The director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office commented in an interview (quoted in the article on the report cited above):

If you see one of your buddies serve drinks to somebody to get them drunk, maybe what you do is step in and say "Why don't you wait until she's sober?"

[Via today's Daily Beast Cheat Sheet.]

Dear A.I.G., I Quit!

This is not a joke. The New York Times published a letter of resignation from AIG's executive vice president of their financial products unit as an op-ed article today. It's worth a read [via today's Daily Beast Cheat Sheet].

Just for the record, from the first news of them, I've understood but never liked the big deal being made about the bonuses paid to some AIG executives. If we're going to nail the guilty, let's be sure we've got the right folks. I'm quite sure there's not a one-to-one relationship between those responsible for the mess we're in and those receiving AIG bonuses. In fact, I'm pretty sure that those who are most responsible are most of the people who have been in Congress or been President since about 1980 (i.e., I blame deregulation). Furthermore, each U.S. taxpayer has provided AIG on average with $580-1,2901 to bail them out (i.e., exluding the trillions spent for other companies' bailouts), while the total of all these bonuses comes to $1.20 per taxpayer. I've especially disliked the proposed legislation, which can't be much more than a thinly veiled ex post facto bill of attainder (both ex post facto laws—a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of acts committed—and bills of attainder—declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial—are forbidden by the U.S. Constitution—Article I, section 9).

1The amount depends on what figure you use: I've heard amounts ranging from $80 billion to $173 billion. This the the next calculation are also based on 2007's estimated 138 million taxpayers.

Help name the anti-Pluto's moon

The anti-Pluto—the large Kuiper Belt object named Orcus—is similar to Pluto in many ways: similar sizes; each with a single known moon; possibly similar origins; and, most strikingly, similar orbits in size, apsides (i.e., perihelion and aphelion) and [rather large] inclination. They are different in one glaring respect: Pluto and Orchus have, and will always have, exactly opposite positions in their respective orbits. As I understand it, this is due to their orbits being regulated by Neptune, with both orbs "circling" (ellipsing?) the sun twice for every three orbits of Neptune (making each a plutino).

Orcus was discovered in 2004 and its moon in 2005. The latter has only just recently come to need naming (presumably the former will also become the sixth official dwarf planet before too long). Mike Brown, of Caltech's Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, has an extremely interesting entry in his Mike Brown's Planets blog that talks about this need to name Orcus's moon and that invites submission of names, with rationales. Be sure to read at least some of the comments, which are full of suggestions (there are 249 as of this writing). I was hoping to have a stab at it myself, but I'm far too ignorant of mythology [via today's Astronomy Picture of the Day].


Proposed political talk show rule

As part of the introduction to his discussion of Republican's use of the term "Democrat Party", Sean Quinn of included a video clip of Ari Fleischer being interviewed by MSNBC's David Shuster. I commented on Mr Quinn's post as follows:

I respectfully suggest that David Shuster, and all other political talk show hosts, institute a rule that guests not be invited back to the show if they do not answer a single question they were asked by the interviewer. I understand that politicians appear on these shows because they believe they have something to gain by doing so. Quite often, what they hope to gain may be at odds with what the interviewer is hoping to gain (which, hopefully, is truthful answers to certain questions). Therefore you can't expect such guests to always answer every question without ever changing the topic. But in this video clip, I believe Ari Fleischer changed the subject of every single question that Shuster asked him. Why allow Fleischer back on this show ever again?
I also propose that such a rule be called the Fleischer Rule, in honor of this abysmal performance.

Republican's pejorative use of "Democrat Party"

Sean Quinn has a nice post over at about this. The very short summary is that it's no different than my elementary school tormentors calling me "Baby Huey".

Here's an excerpt from Mr Quinn's post:

[I]t is striking that a huge number of Republicans continue to go out of their way to use the epithet “Democrat Party” rather than the party’s actual name, the Democratic Party....

The intent seems to be twofold: First, it seems to be an attempt at branding/labeling/controlling the way language sounds in an audience’s ears. Democrat apparently sounds "worse" than Democratic, and it's also an attempt to separate the Democratic Party from small-d democratic, a popular American concept. If such a tactic nets votes, it’s objectively justifiable. Second, it’s designed to get under the skins of Democrats. From a Republican perspective, both seem to be independently important reasons to standardize the epithet....

One of the reasons the "childish" party of Fleischer and Limbaugh is having such a tough time in the wilderness is they've done a too-clever-by-half job figuring out how to systematically weaponize language. There's no referee. It's their right. It's also no great parlor trick, and you can go to any grade-school playground and find the same. The day Republicans work to signal good faith by policing their own house on basic respect in language will probably run parallel with the day we'll see the party reborn as an ideologically grownup force.


Order return rip-off

The CPU fan on my desktop computer began failing intermittently last month. So I ordered a replacement fan from, where I had originally bought the computer in September 2004. The sales guy on the phone had my order on file, so he figured out which fan I needed and shipped it to me. After it arrived, I tried to replace the part only to find that he had sent me the wrong fan.

So I called the toll-free phone number on the packing slip. The first thing I heard was a warning that they were experiencing heavy call volume and suggesting I'd do better by going to their website if I was calling for a number of possible reasons that the voice listed. Since it was Monday morning—when I'd expect call volume to be heaviest—and one of these reasons was obtaining return authorization, I decided to visit the website. Here's what I found (click on the image for a more readable view):

The $14.99 they were offering to refund did not include the $6.99 I'd paid for shipping. Since they were responsible for the error, I certainly felt I should get a full refund, including for the shipping. So on Tuesday afternoon, thinking call volume would be lower then, I called their toll-free number again. I heard the same message warning me about heavy call volume and suggesting I go to their website. This time I stayed on the line. And—surprise, surprise!—got a representative immediately. It took him a while to process my request, presumably because their computers were slow, but there was no problem with the return. Shortly thereafter I received an e-mail with a link to a UPS shipping label. The question of whether or not my shipping would be included in the refund did not come up. So I'm assuming I'll receive a refund for the full $21.98. If not, I'll call and complain.

I printed the label, repacked the fan, and taped the label to the box. It was pre-paid, so return shipping didn't cost me anything.

Clearly it behooves a company to encourage customers to use their website. It's cheaper and should be more reliable than using a person. But I can't help wondering if, in the case of return authorizations at least, it's also an attempt on their part to avoid refunding shipping costs and to shift the cost of return shipping onto the customer. I should know about the shipping cost refund in a few days.

See my follow-up post.


Happy Square Root Day

As should be obvious to anyone with even a little bit of mathematical ability, there are only nine such days (ten if you cheat and count 10 October '00) every century. Frankly I had never of this "holiday" till I heard it mentioned on the news this morning.


Betraying the public trust

You know there's got to be more to this story in yesterday's New York Times [found via the Daily Beast Cheat Sheet], right?
At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke.

Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment.

She was handcuffed and taken away as her stunned parents stood by.
Apparently, the real cause of her detention was a $2.6 million kickback scheme.
The answers became a bit clearer on Thursday as the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care.

While prosecutors say that Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.
This is a most despicable betrayal of the public trust by two judges. They deserve what they will get.

If the court agrees to the plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and resign from the bench and bar. They are expected to be sentenced in the next several months. Lawyers for both men declined to comment.

Since state law forbids retirement benefits to judges convicted of a felony while in office, the judges would also lose their pensions.
Ciavarella and Conahan are pictured above, respectively.


Local Knowledge, by Liza Gyllenhaal

My old friend Liza will be reading from and signing copies of this, her first novel, at the Jenkintown Barnes & Noble on Saturday, 31 January at 1:00 PM.


Official Election Results

Montgomery County, PA just posted official election results from November 4. Who am I to chide them for taking so long? I haven't updated my sidebar to the left in something like four years!

Bryn Athyn, where I live, has been a Republican stronghold since it was founded. I don't know when that was, but it was incorporated in 1916. In 2008, for the first time ever, I believe, a Democratic candidate received the highest number of votes:
Registration & turnout
Registration 969
Cartridge turnout 703
Absentee turnout 54
Total turnout 757

Presidential electors
Barack Obama (Dem) 373 (50.20%) (49.27%)
John McCain (Rep) 353 (47.51%) (46.63%)
Bob Barr (Lib) 14 (1.88%) (1.85%)
Ralph Nader (Ind) 3 (0.40%) (0.40%)
Total 743

Undervote 14 (1.85%)
Total turnout was 78.12%. I interpret the undervote as "None of the above." The first column of percentages is based on total votes for the office; those in the second column are based on total turnout.

For all other offices, Bryn Athyn went Republican, with candidates getting from 53.52% (Marina Kats, for Representative in Congress) to 64.06% (Thomas Murt, incumbent Representative in the General Assembly, who even I voted for).

We'll see if I've been sufficiently shamed by Montgomery County to update my sidebar soon.

PayPal's security lapse

I received the following e-mail message yesterday.
Subject: Notice of Policy Updates
From: PayPal
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 14:23:08 PST
To: hughhyatt at




Notice of Policy Updates

Dear Hugh Hyatt,

You are receiving this notification because you have elected to receive email notice of all PayPal Policy Change Notices.

PayPal recently posted a new Policy Update. You can view this Policy Update by logging in to your PayPal account. To log in to your account, go to and enter your member log in information. Once you are logged in, look in the What's New column on the left side of the page for the latest Policy Updates.

If you need help logging in, go to our Help Center by clicking the Help link located in the upper right-hand corner of any PayPal page.


Genuine? Or phishing attempt? I looked briefly at it and once I saw the link to a supposed login address, I did what I always do with such e-mails—forward them to an appropriate address at the website of the organization they purport to be from (in this case, and to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at

Normally I get a reply from the organization confirming that it was indeed a phishing attempt. But this time I got one back that said, in part,
Thanks for taking an active role by reporting suspicious-looking emails. Although we've determined that the email you forwarded to us is not a phishing attempt, our security team is grateful for your concern....

PayPal will never ask you for your password over the phone or in an email and will always address you by your first and last name.

Take our Fight Phishing Challenge at to learn 5 things you should know about phishing....
To which I responded,
I can't tell you how appalled I am by what PayPal has done.

I am shocked that PayPal would send an e-mail inviting me to login using a URL embedded in the message. To me the first rule of avoiding phishing schemes is never to use such embedded URLs to login to websites. An invitation to log in is nothing less than a request for a password, which is something I thought PayPal would never do!

I suggest making sure your employees who produced the e-mail I originally forwarded take your Fight Phishing Challenge as well. Question #5:

"Clicking on a link in an email is the most reliable way to get to your PayPal account. True or false?

"False. Many phishing emails have links that look valid, but send you to fraudulent sites instead. Here’s what you should do: Open a new browser window, type and log in to your PayPal account directly."


Who's up to no good in the financial markets?

Cecil Adams's The Straight Dope is almost always an interesting and fun read. He also tackles topics that you might have a hard time finding out about elsewhere, like today's article titled How would I go about laundering money? I was drawn up short by two statements in the last paragraph:
In short, money laundering has become a species of high finance. Some claim it's the third largest business in the world, behind legitimate currency transactions and the auto industry. It conceals some nasty enterprises — criminal-finance experts estimate that more than two thirds of U.S. money-laundering prosecutions involve illegal drug dealing, and terrorists shuffle their share of cash as well. Then again, knowing what we do about many legal global transactions of late, you'd have to say it's not just the criminals in the financial marketplace who are up to no good.
Currency transactions constitute a business? Hmm, I wouldn't have thought so. Currency trading might be a business, but I doubt this is what Cecil is referring to as the largest or second largest business in the world.

But what really caught my eye was the implication that many of the world's current financial woes are caused by non-criminals who are up to no good. I'll grant that some of them may not be criminals. But many certainly are. Bernard Madoff comes immediately to mind. Many others are not only in the sense that they haven't been charged, prosecuted and convicted. Many of these won't be (charged or prosecuted, I mean). Senior corporate managers who cooked the books, thereby obtaining large incentive payments for themselves and simultaneously hoodwinking investors, come immediately to mind. So do those at much lower levels who encouraged people to lie about their income on mortgage applications, as well as those who lied to obtain these mortgages. I find the idea that such behaviors are not criminal to be abhorrent!


The problem with Gitmo

How can we have allowed this to happen?
When Muhammad Saad Iqbal arrived home here in August after more than six years in American custody, including five at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, he had difficulty walking, his left ear was severely infected, and he was dependent on a cocktail of antibiotics and antidepressants.

In November, a Pakistani surgeon operated on his ear, physical therapists were working on lower back problems and a psychiatrist was trying to wean him off the drugs he carried around in a white, plastic shopping bag.

The maladies, said Mr. Iqbal, 31, a professional reader of the Koran, are the result of a gantlet of torture, imprisonment and interrogation for which his Washington lawyer plans to sue the United States government....

But the full stories of individual detainees like Mr. Iqbal are only now emerging after years in which they were shuttled around the globe under the Bush administration’s system of extraordinary rendition, which used foreign countries to interrogate and detain terrorism suspects in sites beyond the reach of American courts.

Mr. Iqbal was never convicted of any crime, or even charged with one. He was quietly released from Guantánamo with a routine explanation that he was no longer considered an enemy combatant, part of an effort by the Bush administration to reduce the prison’s population.

“I feel ashamed what the Americans did to me in this period,” Mr. Iqbal said...
I too am ashamed, Mr Iqbal [from an article titled "An Ex-Detainee of the U.S. Describes a 6-Year Ordeal" in the 6 January edition of The New York Times].

The problem with SMS (Short Message Service)

For those who don't know, SMS is the service that underlies most text messaging on mobile phones. There are others SMS messages can be sent from the Web. I've been using it more and more, particularly internationally. Around the holidays, presumably due largely to network congestion, I discovered what seem to me to be some appalling features of SMS. These go way beyond the well-known limitation that messages cannot exceed 160 characters.
  1. My service provider—CREDO, which uses Sprint's PCS network—does not support international texting. This may not be the usual practice, but I was unable to tell in my cursory examination of alternative providers. Worse than that, they are perfectly willing to charge me for messages that never get delivered, for messages that take inordinately long to arrive and for messages I receive that are garbage and the sender does not send. I know this because I called to complain and was basically told, "Tough luck!" The good news is that if I buy a relatively low-priced bundle—$2.99 a month for 50 messages a month (a 20-message breakeven point) or $4.99/mo for 300/mo (a 50-message breakeven point)—additional messages only cost 10¢ each. And I can purchase these options on a month-by-month basis, retroactive to the beginning of the billing period, so long as I add or subtract them by the day before my billing date1.
  2. There's no way to tell when a message was sent, only when it was received.
  3. Some messages take over 24 hours to reach their destination! Sometimes I think I'd be better off sending a letter, which at least allows me to let my recipient know when I sent it.
  4. Some messages never make it to their destination and the sender is not notified.
  5. From one correspondent, who denies sending anything like these, I periodically receive a message consisting of two characters: e@. No one seems to be able to explain why this is happening.
  6. There is apparently no way to block SPAM messages (short of blocking all messaging) on my mobile phone and I have to pay for these as well.
All in all, as a technical professional, this seems like a really poorly designed system.

1There's a similar monthly option to start the weekday no-charge calling period at 7pm rather than 9pm. It costs $5/month.

Blog home
Blog archives