Sunday, February 27, 2005
Friday, February 25, 2005
Another Utility, Another Problem
It seems like I am fighting the man tooth and nail lately. I guess I should start searching for a cape or maybe a sidekick.
Update on My Unlistedness
SponsoredJ Ovittore Unlisted Phone Number & Address Found Information was found in Public Records, Including Age, Address History and Family Members.www.intelius.com
I went to Intelius and found my record, available for $7.95 for the particular record or $19.95 for and unlimited 24 hour search. I obviously did not want to pay to see the info and went to the contact us button, which directed me to login and pay $7.95 to get Intelius.com's contact info. A little fishy don't you think?
I also came across some interesting stuff on Experian's web site. A credit bureau that sells information to people who want it. I thought a credit bureau's only purpose was to issue a credit report to businesses that an individual was applying for credit with. I am pretty sure they can't just sell your info to just anyone, but I guess I was wrong.
I reported both services to the Federal Trade Commission, who was very surprised at my findings and again will look into it. I did have to explain skip tracing to the FTC consumer representative, which tells me that they do not really know much about it.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Unlisted My Ass
Yesterday, I contacted a lady named Christina at the Federal Trade Commission. I filed a complaint. The complaint was based on the fact that they somehow tracked my number down, even though I have nothing to do with the account and my number is unlisted. She recommended that I call the NC State Attorney Generals office as well. Today, I got in contact with Rosemary at the State AG Office. She said that there is nothing they could do to help me. She also added that MBNA probably used a method called Skip Tracing. This is where you search records on the internet to find information. If you have ever filled out an application for anything and it was put in a computer anywhere, your information exists. Here are a bunch of links to skip tracing sites: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=skip+tracing .
MBNA will not call anymore. They have been warned about a lawsuit. This method of collections is a bit disturbing though. If you have ever filled out an application you probably included your SS# as well. In a time where identity theft is looming so large, you would think that the government would crack down on these practices, but they don't. I would understand the law enforcement agencies right to skip trace, but a credit card company? What gives them the right? Be aware, be very aware. Your information, as much as you think it is hidden and safe, is open for the taking and big brother is turning it's head at such practices. You are exposed and you are now warned.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
What is the EPA's stance on the pollution that commercial and state owned vehicles emit? Why are you letting SUV drivers get away with a loophole in the law that makes them light-trucks and not subject to emissions inspections? I would like to discuss this further at your convenience. I write a web log(blog) at http://www.jovittore.blogspot.com . I would like all your comments to be on the record, but of course truthful and informative. This is a particular issue that has been bothering me for a while and I would like to get to the bottom of it.
Thank you for your time,
I did not expect a response at all since Mr. Levitt is now the director at Health and Human Services. I did, today, get a response from Merrylin Zaw-Mon Certification and Compliance Division, Office of Transportation and Air Quality. Here's what she had to say:
Mr. Jayson Ovittore
Dear Mr. Ovittore:
Thank you for your January 16 e-mail message to Administrator Leavitt. His office has forwarded it to our division for a response.
You asked for EPA’s stance on the pollution that commercial and state owned vehicles emit and why EPA is letting SUV drivers get away with a loophole in the law that makes them [sic] light-duty trucks and not subject to vehicle inspections.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shares your concerns that vehicles continue to be major contributors to the unhealthy air in our cities and rural areas.
EPA is now implementing a major “Tier 2" emission standards program to significantly reduce emissions from sport utility vehicles, minivans and pick up trucks. For the latest information on the issue of more stringent regulations, please visit this page on our Internet web site: http://www.epa.gov/oms/tr2home.htm#Documents. This web site is updated periodically, so be sure to visit it frequently.
The EPA definition for light–duty trucks is based on the vehicle’s physical configuration. Vehicle manufacturer’s design their SUVs using these definitions to qualify them as light-duty trucks. These definitions are in the Code of Federal Regulations, so manufacturers are legally classifying their vehicles as light-duty trucks. We do ensure that any vehicle certified as a light-duty truck conforms to EPA’s definitions.
The vehicle inspection programs are operated by individual states and are not under the jurisdiction of EPA. You may want to put your light-duty truck inspection question to those states that have vehicle inspection programs.
You should be interested in our web site www.epa.gov/otaq. One will find a wealth of information on emissions from mobile sources. The Green Vehicle Guide is especially helpful to individuals wanting to select the environmentally cleanest vehicle when making a purchase.
We thank you for your concerns about our air quality and thank you for taking the time to write.
Merrylin Zaw-Mon, Director
Certification and Compliance Division
Office of Transportation and Air Quality
Check out the links, they are worth looking at. Maybe the EPA is headed in the right direction after all. Now all we have to do is get the states to enforce inspections. I'll keep you posted on my future conversations with the EPA.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Maybe He Is Smarter Then We Thought
Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
To Protect and Pollute
Friday, February 18, 2005
Monday, February 14, 2005
Taking on Blogger vs Journalist
Mainstream media is up in arms and feels they are being backed into a corner they didn't think existed. There are several issues to cover. What is a bloggers credentials and credibility? A mainstream journalist works for a company or organization, which has credibility and a history of reporting the news. A blogger has their word. Bloggers are using links to other stories and sources, revealing where they got their information from. Journalists, usually, do not reveal what their sources are. We still don't know who Deep Throat is, decades later. As a blogger, I feel I am building my credentials as I write. I have done interviews, investigated stories, etc.. What makes me different from a journalist? A degree and an institution to write for? I do it for free? I don't think we are all that different. Would you seek the truth from someone who gets paid or from someone who does it because they care and felt a story was important? I will say not all bloggers are good enough to be journalists and I don't think all bloggers are trying to be journalists. The bloggers that are good enough will stand apart from the rest and step up to this challenge.
Blogs are really no different then a wire service, such as Reuters or the Associated Press. Maybe someone will start a Bloggers Press wire, and that can give credibility to the blogisphere that it deserves. Strength in numbers and bloggers are 8 million strong and counting. I have been added to many press lists using the wire service definition for my blog. I also subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds, which act like my own personalized news wire. I check my RSS before my CNN.
There is the fear of change as well. Mainstream media has been the same game for decades. I feel there is a sense of fear among journalists, that this could mean their jobs eventually. I understand that fear, but I strongly disagree that blogs, or whatever the next medium will be, will replace the mainstream media. I do think there will be a transformation in the media world that eventually accepts bloggers as a source of news. This same type of fear was felt when movies were available on tape for home consumption for the first time. Also, when cable TV came to be. The movie industry's fears were that no one would come to the theaters anymore, but I still go and I am sure that others do as well. People will still read the paper and watch CNN. Why not be transparent and saturate the market with as much news as possible?
There is the question of ethics: what is right and wrong and how you go about it. I strongly urge all my fellow bloggers to check out Journalism.org and read the ethics standards they have set out for all journalists. They can apply to bloggers as much as they apply to mainstream journalists. I would urge proof reading and fact checking your stories and if you make a mistake, issue a correction at the end of the original piece. To all the reporters that have done something sleazy to get a story or bend the rules a little to get the story I say, "How dare you question my ethics?" People know right from wrong, bloggers are people.
One feature that blogs have, that journalists don't have, is comments. Comments allow a blogger to have an extended look and conversation with their readers. Letters to the Editor sort of does that, but does not keep the conversation going. There are times that the comment box for a piece is more interesting, because the story took on it's own life and the back and forth dialogue in the comments box expands on the idea or the facts of a story. Commenting also gives people a sense of "getting personal" with the author of a piece, something I can not do reading the paper or watching TV. When is the last time you had dialogue with Wolf Blitzer? I never have and I have tried. If I was a mainstream journalist, I would want to know what my readers think, and have a chance to respond to a different take on my story.
Access to past articles is also an issue. Some newspapers make a very pretty penny on selling access to their archives. Bloggers post and that post can be read at anytime for no cost. Information should be as free as possible, knowledge is the key to our survival. Why make obtaining that knowledge any harder then it has to be? In three months most of today's news is locked behind a wall for sale, again interrupting the conversation. I do understand the business model for news archives. I understand about the money train that rolls because of it. What good is that money train if there are no riders(or in this case readers). If papers want to be lucrative again, they need an online presence and the overall product needs to be news worthy and be able to recapture the audience. That audience is more so ,every day, online.
To sum it all up, I feel that the mainstream journalists are mass media and bloggers are media for the masses. We will have to see where this on-going debate and transformation will take us all. I hope it will bring upon a new, trust worthy, and complete news system worldwide.
My Clever Quip From Yesterday
I had my usual morning rituals going on. Wake, brush teeth, get dressed, drink Sobe Adreniline Rush, kiss my wife goodbye, head for coffee at the Gate. I get to the Gate and an older lady, obviously either coming from or going to church, says, "Working on a Sunday." She sounded like my working was offending her and her beliefs. Instead of the usual organized religion, corruption, no one god speech, I quipped, "Jesus was a carpenter and in this economy, he'd even be working on a Sunday." The look was priceless, as if I had just kicked her dog. I blame my self proclaimed brillance on pre-coffee delerium. I hate when people judge others or expect others to be like minded all the time.
Friday, February 11, 2005
There Is A Lot Going On
Saturday, I will be riding down to Chapel Hill for the Triangle Bloggers Conference. There is a large constituency from Greensboro going to this event. You can check out all the attendees, event schedule, and the press release at Blog Together.
Sunday, Dan Gillmor will be here in Greensboro to speak at the News and Record. I am anxious to see what he has to say as well.
A lot of attention from the world outside Greensboro = we must be doing something right here in Greensboro. Stay tuned, more to come soon.
Clarification: I wanted to clarify that the Dan Gillmor meeting on Sunday is by invite only. I am not attending, just anxious to see what comes of it. Thanks Hoggard for the tip.
Monday, February 07, 2005
What Bush's Budget Means To You-Colorful Version
First the Departments that took a hit:
Department of Agriculture-$19.4 billion, down 10%
Responsible for Food Safety, Conservation, Forest Services, and Rural Development(Farmers).
Department of Energy-$23.4 billion, down 2%
Responsible for Energy R&D, Science, Environmental Cleanup, and Safety, security, reliability and effectiveness of nuclear programs.
Department of Health and Human Services-$67.2 billion, down 1%
Responsible for Medicare, Medicaid, State Childrens Health Insurance, Health Centers, Bioterrorism, Marriage and Health Family Development, and Health Care Info and Tech.
Department of Housing and Urban Development-$28.5 billion, down 11%
Responsible for Section 8 Housing, Public Housing, Homeless Assistance, and Housing for the Elderly and Disabled.
Department of the Interior-$10.6 billion, down 1%
Responsible for Bureau of Indian Affairs, Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Parks and the US Geological Survey.
Department of Labor-$11.5 billion, down 4%
Responsible for Job Training and Employment, Unemployment Insurance, Pension Protection, Labor Law Enforcement, and Employment Statistics.
Environmental Protection Agency-$7.6 billion, down 6%
Responsible for Vehicle Emissions, The Environment in General.
Small Business Administration-$593 million, down 3%
Responsible for Small Business Loans and Small Business Development.
Corp of Engineers-$4.3 billion, down 7%
Responsible for Commercial Navigation, Flood and Storm Damage Reduction, and Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration.
Now the departments that got an increased budget:
Department of Commerce-$9.4 billion, up 49%
Responsible for Economic Development, International Trade, Patent and Trademark Office, and The Census Bureau.
Department of Defense-$419.3billion, up 5%(up 41% since 2001)
Responsible for National Defense, Training and Equiptment for the Military, and Operations and Maintenance.
Department of Education-$56 billion, up 1%
Responsible for Grants to State and Local School Districts, Special Education, and Pell Grants.
Department of Homeland Security-$34.2 billion, up 7%
Responsible for Border and Transportation Security, Coast Guard, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Immigration, Secret Service, and Science and Technology.
Department of Justice-$20.3 billion, up 1%
Responsible for Combating Terrorism, Drug Enforcement, ATF, FBI, CIA, Federal Detention Programs, Prosecuting Corporate Fraud, and other criminal and civil legal activities.
Department of State and International Assistance Programs-$13.3 billion, up 14%
Responsible for Diplomatic Activities and Operation of Embassies, International Assistance (economic development, child health, and military financing), and US Contributions to International Organizations.
Department of Treasury-$11.6 billion, up 4%
Responsible for IRS, Managing and Accounting for the Public Debt, Administering Federal Finances, Combating Financial Crime and Terrorist Funding, and Producing Coin and Currency.
Department of Veteran Affairs-$33.4 billion, up 3%
Responsible for Health Care for Veterans, Disability Compensation, Pension for Low-Income Veterans, and National Cemeteries.
NASA-$16.5 billion, up 2%
Responsible for Space Exploration.
Social Security Administration-$9.5 billion, up 8%
Responsible for Social Security Trust Fund, Administering Social Security to the Elderly.
National Science Foundation-$5.6 billion, up 2%
Responsible for Research, Education and Human Resources, and Major Research Equiptment and Facilities Construction.
I color coded what department responsibilities effect who. Blue is for low to middle income individuals and Democratic Party strongholds. Red is for Upper income individuals, Big government, Big business, and Republican Party strongholds(military). Purple is for neutral issues.
The President really stuck it to the poor man with this budget. Military wins big again, as well as all his big business buddies. Foreign interest also comes out way on top, compared to domestic issues. If you are like most of us prepare yourself now for bad health, bad income, bad air quality, bad government assistance, and expensive gas. I am almost certain that he put a 1% increase towards Education was to put out the fire he has consistently set when it comes to our children. All in all, not a lot to look forward to. Hopefully, 2008 will get here for us all. That way we can feel some relief.
For full budget coverage go here.
Former Priest Goes Down Again
It's Been A While...
On the eve of starting a new painting contract, I was swollen from Hives and an allergic reaction for who knows what. Life has been funny lately, I feel like my life is having mood swings. I'll be fine, just venting. I'll wait for the smoke to clear and then recapture my life. All in all, life ain't bad. It's what you make of it and I haven't been making much, until today. Today, I decided to turn off the smoke machine and rock out like Led Zepplin instead of Bon Jovi. I'll keep you all posted.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Better Late Then Never- State Of The Union
Starting with the good, it will take less time. The President has appointed a bi-partisan panel to go through our tax code and find a way to modernize it, something we have long been in need of. I have always been a strong supporter of the flat tax, 10% across the board, with no deductions. If you make $10,000 a year, you pay $1000 a year. If you make a million dollars a year, you pay $100,000 a year. The President also spoke on healthcare reform, in a rant that was almost "Kerry like". He did, however, fail to mention the pharmaceutical companies who keep driving cost up and drain the government programs of their funds. The two big positives that stuck out to me in the President's speech, were, re-enactment and revision of The Ryan White Act and a touching moment with the parents of K.I.A. marine Byron Norwood. The Ryan White Act is intended to help families dealing with the cost of HIV/AIDS, and to date has spent 6.4 billion dollars of grant money to do so. The most touching moment was when President Bush introduced, Janet and Bill Norwood, who lost their son in Fallujah, Iraq. Janet embraced an Iraqi human rights activist for about a minute, to standing ovations and teary eyes. Even the President seemed human for a moment. Everyone, even me (who despises the Iraq occupation), can feel for the parents of a soldier killed in action.
Now for the flip side of the State of the Union address. I have 14 things I wrenched my gut at, as the President spoke. I will comment more upon request in the comment box below.
In their order of occurrence:
1) He said in the last year alone we have created 2.5 million new jobs. What? Where? In
China and India? He continues to let companies outsource jobs overseas and
immigrants come take them here.
2) He is going to cut 150 government programs that are not getting results. Some of
these programs, and he did not lay out which programs, might have been underfunded
or not had a chance to implement their purpose. I am sure some are just against his
3) He is going to cut the deficit in half by 2009. 2009 being the year our next President
takes office. He came to office with a surplus and will have, according to his plan, only
a 2 trillion dollar deficit upon his exit.
4) The President's big plan is Social Security reform. He says under his reform, if you are
55 or older, there will be no change. What about the younger generation? He says by
2018 that Social Security will be in the red, in 2027 Social Security will need to borrow
200 million dollars, in 2033 Social Security will need to borrow 300 million dollars, and
in 2042 Social Security will be bankrupt. He says that all changes will be gradual. He will cut other programs and benefits to help Social Security. He says that you will get a better deal with personal retirement accounts. He even said, "With a personal retirement account, the money is yours, and the government can not take it away." Which it has done to the existing Social Security money to fund other programs. See my story on that here.
5) He is pushing for a gay-marriage amendment. Are gay people still human beings?
Yes. Are they entitled to every constitutional right as straight people? Yes. Unless
we actually aren't a democracy with a constitution that protects us. Leave your
religious beliefs in church and remember that we are supposed to have separation of church and state. If Jesus krispies want to be straight and not agree with gay marriage, fine, that is your
right. These people also have rights, just like slaves before they were freed and woman
before they were also awarded rights.
6) Again imposing his religious beliefs, the President is taking a firm stand against
stem-cell research. Hey, discovery's in the field could help out health care cost in the long
run, by curing diseases. But then what would all our doctors do? Right?
7) The President brought up his court appointments. You know, the ones he broke
constitutional law to appoint anyway. He says they are good judges. I have a pretty
good three point shot, but I'm not playing for the Lakers.
8) Religion again, Laura Bush will lead a three year initiative against inner-city gangs and
violence. Great. Except the money and programs are faith based and impose religious values on people.
9) The President said we need to pass along our freedoms to our younger and future
generations. "Especially freedom from fear." As if, this is not the administration that
is based on instilling fear as a way to control the country.
10) The President thanked Congress for providing military resources to our troops. Tell
that to the soldiers and see what most would say about the lack of resources, like
vehicle armor or even bullet proof vests and ammunition.
11) I quote the President, "The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to
impose our form of government on anyone else." He did dot just say that! What has
the last two plus years been about?
12) He proposes that Congress pass a bill to give the new Palestinian government
350 million dollars to get them going. Where does he get this money from? That's
right, we take it from Social Security and we invested 350 million dollars of our
defense budget in pork bellies instead of body armor. I guess the pork bellies paid off.
13) He wants North Korea and Iran to give up their nuclear programs. I agree that both
countries are a danger, but they might also look at Iraq and our occupation and consider us
a danger too. After all we are not giving up our nuclear programs. We are trying to
develop precision nuclear weapons at this time.
14) The President still refuses to even set a time table for troop withdrawal in Iraq. We
would at least like a clue. I am sure the families of soldiers would like to know
something as well. If it's never, that is not acceptable. That would be the only reason
not to have a public policy on this, there is no plan to pull the troops or he has not had
it cross his mind yet.
In closing, the President had bi-partisan applause and even some booing. The Democratic
response by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, showed the same ideals the Democrats have had, except it seems they have now jumped on the "faith" bandwagon. I don't say this often, but Andrew Sullivan was right, "not a very good speech."
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Legal Drug Dealers
Believe me, before I start my rant, I know the importance of pharmaceuticals to peoples lives. I just feel it has all spun out of control. The drug companies no longer care what the side effects are, the FDA acts like they have been bought by the pharmaceutical companies, and the people just go fill their prescriptions like sheep in a herd. Look at all the recent lawsuits against drug companies. If you don't know about all the legalities, check out www.adrugrecall.com , they have a list of drugs and current and pending lawsuits against their makers. If you want to know how I feel about the FDA and the drug companies check out stories here and here. If you don't feel like reading my prior stories I can tell you next to government and the church, the FDA and the drug industry comes in just ahead of pyramid schemes and the Mafia for being corrupt.
What I have been observing over the past 18 months or so is just appalling. A doctors office filled to the brim with patients, running late (they all do), and a drug rep walks in. The drug rep goes to the desk and checks in, takes a seat for about 30 seconds and holy shit, they go straight back to see the doctor himself(herself). I can speak for me, but I have read the faces of countless patients, in countless offices, and they are all saying the same thing. What the F#*K? Which is exactly what I am saying. Don't you think that the sick patient should have the right to be seen in a timely fashion and certainly before a drug rep and their free pens and mugs. These reps are nothing more then legalized drug dealers. The companies they work for send them with samples to hand out and all kinds of goodies for the office. The companies they work for give doctors kickbacks (vacations, five star dinners, rounds of golf and monetary incentives for writing a lot of prescriptions for their drugs). I have seen with my own eyes real narcotics dealers and I have seen pharmaceutical reps. There is no difference. These companies and their reps teach from an early age that we need to be medicated. It's all OK if we are medicated. When those meds don't work anymore, we'll put you on stronger meds. When real problems arise people want more powerful drugs and turn to cocaine, crack and heroin and pills that make them happier or zone out. New designer drugs like crystal meth and extasy closely model prescription drugs like Dextromethorphan, pseudoephedrine(for crystal meth) and ritalin, adderall(for extasy). The drug companies are like cartels, with reps as pushers, looking for a new drug that they can get you addicted to. If this country wants to fight the war on drugs they should start with the pharmaceutical companies.