Consumerist: Airport Payphone Charges $20 For 1-Minute Local Call
I received a notice recently that one of my credit cards had been compromised in an online transaction in which Verisign provided the alleged security/verification for the merchant. Terribly sorry, said Verisign, which did offer (I accepted) to pay for a year of credit watching via one of the three major credit bureaus.
Since then, however, I’ve had several of purchases rejected by the card issuer. At least twice now, I’ve had to call the credit-card company and verify that, yes, I was the person making the purchase. Then the issuer unfroze the card, and I could try again to make the purchase.
When this happened earlier this week, I asked the person at the other end of line to simply cancel that card and issue me a new one with a different number. She refused, on the ground that since there was no actual fraud, there was no harm being done and therefore no need for the time and expense — to the company — of issuing the new card.
What about my time and expense? These calls to the card company are taking up time that is worth something to me. That, of course, is irrelevant to the card issuer.
Just one more hidden cost of credit in today’s world.
Look here for a deeper explanation of my new Mediactive project.
The Japanese Shinkansen “bullet train” runs at high speeds, but only when you see it up close do you realize how fast. This 16-car express train takes only a few seconds to whip through the Shin-Hanamaki station on its way from Tokyo to Hachinohe in northern Honshu island.
Others have been more eloquent, of course. But allow me to join those who mourn the death of this great journalist.
I grew up in an era when Walter Cronkite told us that’s the way it was. It usually was, and he and his CBS News team earned a nation’s trust.
Many people think of the Kennedy assassination when they remember Cronkite — his moment of visible pain after announcing the president’s death. It was, indeed, one of those moments that stays forever in one’s mind and heart.
I prefer to think of him from the day that brought the greatest joy to an American generation: the first moon landing in 1969. Like so many others, I was watching CBS. The landing was a closer call than most of us knew at the time. Clearly, in retrospect, Cronkite understood how close the lander came to running out of fuel. The relief and happiness on his face after the Eagle settled onto the moon’s surface was a great moment, helped along by a great journalist.
Walter Cronkite was, as we all are, partly a product of his own times. There won’t be — there can’t be in a media ecosystem like the one we’re creating — another like him.
Even though I’m now legally a resident of Arizona, I come back to California frequently and keep in close touch in any case. So watching the state’s finances reach the catastrophic stage has been a fascinating and scary experience.
California’s government is, in a word, dysfunctional. Yes, the hapless Legislature bears much of the responsibility, and Gov. Schwarzenegger’s tenure has been a pathetic joke. They have persistently enacted laws that make the problems worse, and refuse to face up to reality. Posturing has replaced politics, and the state’s on the brink of a true financial meltdown.
But residents might consider looking in the mirror as they decide whom to blame the most. They are the ones who elect these clowns. They are the ones who have voted for fiscally irresponsible policies via the proposition system, beginning with Prop 13, which was and remains the seed that grew into the forest of fiscal destruction.
Now the state is issuing IOUs instead of actual money to its creditors, including taxpayers who were expecting refunds. If the state doesn’t default on its obligations outright I’ll be amazed.
Unbelievable. Yet predictable, and sad.
Sad news: The Wall Street Journal’s John Wilke has died at age 54.
John Wilke worked at the Journal for two decades, and did some of the best reporting on how business and politics merge in unhealthy ways.
My own connection to him was tangential but memorable. In the 1990s, when I was writing about technology and business, and raising a continual stink about the predatory ways of Microsoft, the Journal seemed disgracefully in the tank for the software company and its lawbreaking leaders. (I don’t think they actually were in the tank; my guess is that they fell victim to the syndrome that often leads reporters to unwittingly go too easy on the people they cover, for fear of losing access.)
Then came the federal antitrust lawsuit, and Wilke — the Washington reporter who covered antitrust — eagerly jumped into the fray.
The more he read the documents available in the case (which were also available to the Journal’s Microsoft reporters in Seattle), he told me one day on the phone, the more excited he got at the amazing story he was covering. He couldn’t believe the stuff the company had been doing, and he wrote by far the Journal’s best coverage of the company and its behavior.
This wasn’t the only excellent work he did by any means. His tenacity and talent were well-known, and will be much missed.
I’ll be speaking next Tuesday at lunchtime at the Berkman Center. Topic (and link for RSVP):
Several folks I know and admire are seeking to intervene in a settlement between the Author’s Guild and Google, a deal that has many unfortunate aspects including the way it treats orphaned works — that is, works still protected by (ridiculously long) copyright terms where the authors can’t be found, or works that may or may not actually be copyright.
In this Letter to Request Intervention in Author’s Guild v Google, Lewis Hyde, Harry Lewis and the Open Access Trust are trying to get a federal just to let the public — that’s the rest of us — have a say in how these works are treated.
They want to “represent the community of readers, scholars, and teachers who use orphaned works” — to “defend our interest in orphaned works to defend the public domain’s claim to free, fair use.”
They have my support.