Monthly Archives: May 2011

Weekly Spam: Money for ‘some Africa country’

It’s been well over a week since I’ve posted one of these, but in my defense, the pickings have been very generic lately.  This one, although a typical scam, is just special in its wording though – and it broke through Yahoo’s spam filter.  Would you like a cut of $95 Billion?  Read on!

From:  George Hendrick (george@btinternet.com)
To:  Undisclosed recipients

UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION.
Address: Palais Des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.
Webmaster@unog.ch/uncc.

AFRICA NATIONS DEBT CLEARANCE NOTICE.
Sir,
Reference to the recent meeting between the United Nations and the Africa Union to restore the dignity and Economy of the Africa.

Agreements were reached by these WORLD LEADERS, the secretary to the UNITED NATIONS and the World Bank to assistance and redeem the image of Africa by settling some Africa foreign debts.

WORLD LEADERS / UNITED NATIONS / WORLD BANK have map out the sum of US 95,000,000,000 (Ninety Five Billion United States Dollars) to be use in paying  some foreign contractors debts owed by some African countries.

I want to bring to you notice that your name was among the list submitted in my office by the UNITED NATIONS COMPENSATION COMMISSION (UNCC) as among those being owed by an Africa country and that is why am contacting you.

You are advised to contact the UN / World bank officer in-charge with your contract Number / Amount for reconfirmation and payment processing.

Contact Mr. George Hendrick of the UN LOANS CREDIT BANK.  Johannesburg, South Africa offices on this email address or fax number for clearance and directive for your payment.
Contact:     Accountant Mr. George Hendrick.
UN LOANS CREDIT BANK
Email: georgehendrick@accountant.com
Johannesburg, South Africa
Webmaster@unog.ch/uncc.
Tel: +27781349646 Fax: +27862120771

These are the two mode of payment.

Payments are either through direct BANK FUND DEPOSIT into beneficiary’s new opening account with UN LOANS CREDIT BANK in order to avoid wrong crediting of funds while BENEFICIARIES will do the online transfer of their funds with a TRANSFER PIN NUMBER by themselves to any account of their choice.

Or by an ATM VISA CREDIT CARD with PIN Number which will be sent to the beneficiaries address.

ATM Credit Card Modes of payments is the United Nations New Approved Means of Payment to Foreign debts. It’s RELIABLE / FAST / SAFE / SECURED and LIMITS CASH LAUNDARY.

You are advised choose one of the options and also to reconfirm / resend your full Name, telephone number / your contact sum to Accountant Mr. George Hendrick for payment processing.

Regards,
Ms R. B. for: Mr. Ban Ki-Moon .Secretary (UNITED NATIONS).

My favourite parts? Calling it ‘the Africa’; ‘assistance and redeem the image of Africa by settling some Africa foreign debts’; oh yes, and ‘LIMITS CASH LAUNDARY.’  Bwahahahaha!  The @ accountant dot com email address for Georgie is pretty special, too, and absolutely believable – as believable as the United Nations paying random individual contractors by ATM.  *snort*

You know, spellcheck would be a huge help for these people.  It’s like they’re not even trying to fleece me!

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

Canadians: If You Have A Best Buy Credit Card, Beware! Chase Is Screwing You Over.

So…  If you signed up for a Best Buy credit card in Canada (or Future Shop, its sister store) prior to January 2011, beware: your account may be locked or shut down without warning for no logical or legal reason.  How do I know this?  They told me that they’ve done it. 

This past Friday (May 20th) I went into Best Buy to grab a few movies for the weekend.  Although I had cash available, I always charge Best Buy purchases to my credit card from there, as I use it to keep tabs on how much money I spend on non-necessities.  My $34 transaction was declined.  Confused, namely because I had well over $400 of available credit, we tried again.  And again.  After the third ‘declined’, a passing manager offered to take me to customer service to call Chase; I gladly agreed, as I was now concerned that my card had somehow been compromised.  What I discovered, however, was far more shady and disingenuous.

After reaching a representative, he informed me that my account had been closed, due to “missing personal information on file”.  I then demanded to know what, precisely, was missing, given that they had just confirmed my name, address, date of birth and account number before telling me anything.  He placed me on hold, and transferred me to another representative (who later informed me she was very new to the call centre).  The second representative told me that banking regulations had changed in Canada as of January 2011, requiring that photo ID be presented to obtain credit in store – “things are more strict now,” she added emphatically – and a mass review of accounts had been undertaken since.  I then informed her that I have always had to show photo ID to obtain credit for store cards and otherwise; in my twelve years of being a credit holder, I have always had to prove my identity.  I then told her that I was standing in front of, ironically, the same store employee who had opened my application, and she had seen my passport on that very day last November, so it was obviously not a new policy.  The representative tried to insist this was not universal; I had an employee confirm otherwise beside me while she was on the line.

I then asked why I wasn’t contacted about this supposedly outstanding identification, as I have been getting my statements promptly each month.  Surely, I told her, if this was a problem since January, they would have contacted me before outright closing my account?  She advised me that she could see a letter was sent “recently” and that some accounts were on hold while some were closed.  I asked why my account wasn’t on hold then, pending notification of me; the representative said she was new and had no idea how it worked.  I asked how to re-open my account, after emphasizing how utterly humiliating the whole process of having my card declined was, which was when she told me the kicker:  because they shut down my account, I would have to re-apply for credit to have a new one, thus incurring a credit score hit.  I again pointed out that this was ludicrous, stressing again that my passport had been scanned into the computer for the application to Chase(!) in November, and that there was absolutely no way I would tolerate another score hit for their error.  I then demanded that someone with authority regarding the closings phone me back; the representative informed me there was no way to schedule a callback and that she didn’t know who would have closed my account, “but I could ask my supervisor.”  She asked, and returned with a PO Box address in Ottawa.  I again stressed wanting a callback; she said she would take down my phone number and give it to her supervisor and see if she could.

I then asked if my current no payment plans would hold with the account closed (I purchased a laptop on a year plan with no payments or interest, hence applying for the card in the first place); she had to check as she wasn’t sure.  I was assured all was in order, but the card was now useless for new purchases.

I have been making payments monthly; there was no reason to flag my account for closure over a hold, as my score is exceptional.  The fact that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason, nor any notification or actual knowledge of credit policies in Canada, is extremely disturbing.  This was a review undertaken on ALL Canadian card holders at Best Buy and, conversely, sister store Future Shop; there are others out there who have been unknowingly terminated.

As I informed Chase and the store, I will not give another cent to the chain until Chase is no longer their credit provider, which is a shame for them, given my spending habits and my fiance’s love of electronic gadgets.  I also refuse to incur a hit on my score for foolishness. I urge you to do the same, and please, check on your account as soon as possible. 

Way to fail, Chase.  Way to fail.


EDIT:  THE SAGA CONTINUES!  MORE CHASE LIES ON THESE CLOSURES HERE!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lateral Violence and Internalized Oppression (Or, When The Professor Becomes What Is Preached Against)

I’m currently studying social work in this summer session, a field that I absolutely love.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been in school (no, I’m not telling you how long) and to boot, I’m in college as opposed to university, which is a whole different ball game – at least on my side of the border.  University is very theoretically driven, with most classes being large groups of students scribbling down the lecturing and slides of the professor expert; in college, things are (best I can tell) more experiential, more group work driven, and tend not to lecture directly but instead, move straight to learning the concept in its practical usage.

For programs like this, where we must tread carefully and correctly in the field, I appreciate this novel change of pace.  It’s daunting to me, and to most of us, because we have spent our academic lives being taught in a whole other manner.  Old habits die hard, especially in compressed course situations; they die even harder with old horses in the stables. That said, in my first course, the approach worked;  we learned how to teach Life Skills Training by handling each new theoretical concept just as our future clients would:  within the parameters of the Life Skills model.  The model is specifically designed to instruct on emotional, mental and kinetic levels, as adult learners in particular absorb things best when they use all three modes of learning.  I remember all of the lessons of that course fairly readily, because of how I was emotionally moved, cognitively lectured to or engaged, and then physically practiced the concepts in role play and so forth.

For my second course, I assumed much of the same would occur, and was thusly prepared.  Although the course was a discussion of social work’s fundamental principles and theory, I assumed we would engage this theoretical material on multiple levels, and in this regard, I was not wrong.  However, the course fast became an unfortunate and uncomfortable lesson on a key concept, one that played out not in controlled learning situations, but in teacher-student dynamics.

Our instructor – let’s call this person X, and use the male gender based on a coin flip, not necessarily reality – began our class by explaining that his teaching methods were not the typical methods of Western education systems; they were far more practical, and designed to engage critical thought.  X immediately presented as a vibrant personality, and explained his historical background in the field:  a differently-abled or disabled (you choose; I call myself disabled and will use that in this blog) Aboriginal, with extensive experience in the field and multiple degrees, X immediately dismissed the education away and insisted we all had experiences and training to offer the class.  I enthusiastically agreed, as I count my lived experiences as crucial to my understanding of social work, and a true asset.  X then began to teach, using videos, discussions on loose themes, and so on.

I loved the videos, and loved the discussions, but when I sat down to tackle the readings associated with the lecture, I realized that much of what was in there was not remotely addressed in any cognitive sense in class.  While I learn well enough from reading, I do find I learn best with a combination of audio and visual stimuli and, ideally, a concrete example of a theory via discussion.  Our Life Skills course was a perfect blend of just that; this first class, however, had jumped straight to examples and assumed understanding of the logic beneath.  It was like traversing a highway without road signs: I can guess the speed and which exit I need to take, but who’s to blame if the cops yank me over and tell me I was doing 100km/h in an 80km/h zone?  All students need a few guiding markers to keep us on track.

The second day, we began with a guest lecturer (another Aboriginal instructor – and before one wonders, I mention this information out of relevance, not because that’s all I see these instructors as):  let’s call her Y.  Y worked a case study through with us, the discussions mostly loose, but occassionally stopping to make a point of theory.  It was more clear for me as to what I was to take away, and I felt very satisfied with the experience, as much as it was driven by group work and debate.  There were road signs, to continue the metaphor.  The afternoon, however, returned to X, and again, I felt mostly lost.  I was frustrated, because I felt X had so much to offer me, a British-Canadian Anglo woman, and nothing seemed to be sinking in as I’d hoped.  When we were told our exam was a group exercise the next morning, I felt my stomach drop out as well.  It unsettled me, the notion of time pressure and attempting consensus.  It’s foreign to our school system to have not an assignment, but a test, be a group effort.

The examination took place the next day, and I was horribly ill with a flu.  I also suffer from attention deficits due to a mental condition, and the collective noise of eight other groups in a room made keeping my focus on my own group a nightmare.  I was rattled, and knew I should skip the afternoon lecture; however, being as 30% of our grade was attendance and participation, I stayed with it.  Big mistake:  the afternoon’s ‘lecture’ was a combination of a group of classmates playing a noisy game that aggravated my migraine, coupled with the watching students shouting out random facts from the reading between rounds of said game.  In pain and irritable, I went into the hall to read my chapter, making notes to help pass the time and waiting out the game.  Other students left and went home in frustration, feeling they were not learning anything; some came into the hall and checked on me, or shared my frustrations.  X overheard this in the hall and came out to speak with me and I decided to take a classmate’s advice and express my frustrations.

This is precisely how I explained myself, admittedly in tears from the migraine at this point:  “I appreciate that you make the effort to teach in a non-standard way – I’m sure you’re engaging so many people in new ways – but it’s not working for me.  I actually need a bit of the standard methods; I need to hear the theory, too.  Yesterday, when I spoke with you privately, and we discussed that concept and you then helped me come to a personal example – that’s how I learn best.  Reading it alone isn’t enough with me.  And it’s frustrating because I know you have so much knowledge and experience to offer me, and I want to learn it – but you’re not engaging me, and it sucks.  And then today – I’m sick with the flu and have a migraine, and during the group midterm… it was hell!  I get the purpose of it – in the field, we will often work in treatment teams, and it’s crucial we know how to collaborate on treatments – but in the field, we’d be in a board room, not competing with the noise of eight other groups.  I have attention issues, and it was SO LOUD and so hard to focus.”

X reiterated that he’d warned us that his teaching method was not Western, but then asked if it would be easier to write our final exam alone, as opposed to the groups again.  I confessed that yes, that would be wonderful, and X agreed it was done.  X then stressed I should go home for the rest of the day and practice self-care; I agreed to this.  I told my group I was not working with them for the final and they, much to their credit, said they felt this unfair to me, and wondered why we, as a group, couldn’t be in a quiet room to do the next exam.  We posed this to X; X later offered to let us write it alone after the rest of the groups finished.  All was well – or so we thought.

The next day, we began again with Y, and again, the mix of discussion, music, multimedia and the moments of summing up theory worked very well for me; I was in awe of Y, to be honest, and wished we could have her teach more courses.  The afternoon came and X proceeded to lecture with a slideshow, stating that X was “asked to give this lecture”.  Throughout the afternoon, X repeatedly made snide side comments, such as, “For those people who need numbers…” and “For those people who need to write until they have carpal tunnel….”   I felt attacked, and very uncomfortable.  I hadn’t once said this, and I hoped that no other student had done so, either.  It was a lecture on the specific horrible issues faced by the much maligned and abused Aboriginals of our country, and I wasn’t able to fully immerse myself because of the little barbs peppering it.

Friday morning, my group and I came to class first thing, as we were told, before departing to await the afternoon.  When we arrived, X was telling a group of classmates that in spite of it being a group exercise, the exam was to be done in silence or everyone would get a zero.  X then came to me and asked if I was ‘registered with disability services’; I said no, confused about this.  Although I vaguely knew of the centre and procedures, my schedule hasn’t allowed for me to see my doctor yet and get the complex paperwork done, counselling appointments made, etc.  We were then told on the spot that we had to write with everyone else now.  I felt absolutely awful for my group, who’d expected to have the morning to study; X had never asked about this.  In university, I was simply accommodated; there were no doctor notes or special centres I had to be registered with.  I’d assumed on Wednesday that X was merely being kind.  I also took the silence rule as ridiculous and again, aimed at me, and decided that I needed to tell X that I didn’t feel comfortable with the entire class under fear of a zero because of me.  I took two group members with me, and explained precisely this.  The response we got shocked us all:

“It’s not just you; others have complained that exams are supposed to be silent.  Apparently everyone wanted a White instructor for this class.”  This was said with a great deal of resentment and rage.

We expressed that was not a consensus opinion at all; eventually, the silence rule was lifted, but X expressed that we should all be mindful of our noise levels – a reasonable and appreciated request.

After the exam, my entire group was irate because of the sudden switch, and I was upset that in their kindness, they’d all been screwed over.  But what struck me the most was that we’d just seen two key concepts in action with our instructor’s behaviour: internalized oppression and its often-partner, lateral violence.

Oppression is what the non-dominant groups of a category experience, which is essentially not having the same treatment and access to resources/privileges as the dominant group.  For example:  Aboriginals receive a significant amount less from welfare than non-Aboriginals.  Internalized oppression is when an oppressed person begins to believe the stereotypes and awful statements about their group; for example, a Black woman begins to believe that she is not as deserving of fair treatment as White people are, or a gay man believes he is a sinner and is flawed for ‘choosing’ to be gay.  Lateral violence is when, as a result of this, an oppressed person retreats to his or her group, or perhaps lashes out at the dominant group or at the very least, refuses to interact beyond his own culture; we see this when people react poorly to interracial dating, for example.

X had taken criticisms of his teaching method – and I cannot say there weren’t racist remarks, but that said, the vast majority of our class was non-White and thus, I doubt it, especially in our field – and assumed it to be more oppression of the usual kind – that he was not ‘White enough’ to teach.  In turn, he lashed out, retreating away from us, instead of working collaboratively with us to make the learning experience successful for all.  It was sad, scary and a shame to see:  sad, in that I felt sympathy for the fact that it probably had happened that X had been told he wasn’t ‘White enough’, never mind the mistreatment of the Aboriginals and its toll; scary, in that someone with so many years experience teaching how to avoid this behaviour was exhibiting it in our class; and a shame, because we all lost an opportunity to learn from each other.  When I offered my feedback, for example, I had commended the uniqueness of what X offered, while suggesting what I and perhaps others needed to create a bridge and help us learn; it was offered constructively, as collaborators in the learning process.  That opportunity was spurned and shunned.  I in turn lost out on the wealth of experiences and knowledge X could have given me for my social worker tool box.

None of us are perfect, but I am still aghast.  Then again, I am more aghast at how we treat our First Nations in Canada, because if we treated them as the equal human beings they are, this oppression would not be such a painful trigger button, waiting to be pushed.  White-skinned people, and their privilege, have created this emotional damage in so many generations of Aboriginals, and even racial minorities aside from Aboriginals have seen better treatment; perhaps we all just reaped what we have sown in this case.

Hmm.  Maybe I learned something from X and Y after all.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Survey For Canada…

I’d like to ask Canadians of all shapes and sizes the following questions.  You see, I’m having trouble reconciling the country I live in at the moment, and perhaps the answers will provide insight.  You’ll help, won’t you?  You know, because Canadians are known world-wide as friendly and helpful?

1.  If your son or daughter cheated in a scholarship contest for school – to the point of breaking the law – would you still be proud of his achievement?  Or would you chastise him for his lack of honesty?

2.  If your spouse said, “All of our combined money will be kept in one account, and only I can dictate how it’s spent – and you have no right to see the statements ever again,” would you be okay with this?  Would you be okay if he bought houses, cars and boats on your dime, mostly, completely disregarding things you need like clothing, medications and improvements to the house you actually reside in?

3.  Ladies only: If your father, husband and brother decided that, regardless of your wishes, you did not need access to birth control or abortion services, because marriage should, after all, be about procreation, would you be nonchalant about this?

4.  If your boss decided that he would cut funding to every department except his son’s, then rewarded his son for having the ability to make strong presentations, would you find this fair?  Or would you be pissed off?

5. If you noticed flagrant violations of policy at work, but every time you approached your superiors, you were suspended from work for attempting to speak up while the transgressors were given promotions, would you find this fair?

6.  If hospitals began triaging cases not on need, but on gross annual income, how would you feel, sitting in an ER with your impoverished father who’s living on a pension, after being told this?

7.  You receive a past due notice from the university your child is attending, indicating none of his tuition has been paid and he has been kicked out of his program.  When you ask him what happened to the $14K you gave him for school this year (because you have saved hard for years for this child to have an education), he says, “I went to Cuba, bought a car, saw the UFC – $800 seats, Mom and Dad! – and then, you know, I had to help out my buddies,” do you shrug and say, “Oh well, it was your money”?  Or do you lose your temper, especially because you’re legally on the hook, since he’s 17?

8.  If your sister was facing 67 criminal charges for which you knew she was guilty, would you be proud?  Would you encourage her to hang out with other criminals?

These seem like pretty crazy scenarios, I grant you, but I’m truly curious.  Most people I know, parents and non-parents of all political persuasions, would be unimpressed with all of these situations.  It’s logical to assume that none of these situations would seem fair or pleasant, nor would most parents (I should hope!) reward the behaviour of the children described above.

So why did you elect a Conservative majority last night?

The Harper Conservatives are guilty of all of the above, or have indicated they will do all of the above, if given half a chance – a ‘mandate’, as they like to call it, although, as with Rob Ford, 40% does not a majority of support make.  But 40% of you elected a party with these principles at its core.

I’m flabbergasted.  I’m embarrassed.  I’m fearful for the rights I currently enjoy as a citizen, let alone a bisexual, childfree female.

Harper’s MPs are encouraging the religious right to continue to push for control of MY uterus.  Harper himself thinks I should have no right to fund the party I care about.  Of course he thinks this: only his party is backed by the rich; he doesn’t need public subsidies, like the Greens do.  Harper thinks the Canada Health Act – the very thing Obama has been pointing to as he’s worked for a more universal health care system across the border – should be scrapped.  Health care shouldn’t be a Federal bother, you see; he also thinks we should pay for it privately.  Have none of you seen what’s been going on for decades in the States?

Harper is a criminal, and his government was the first to be found in contempt of Parliament – a first among the DOZENS of Commonwealth nations and their collective political history – for hiding what he wants to do with the tax money YOU have paid into running this country.  He wants to take away your rights to see the proverbial bank statement; now that he isn’t castrated by holding a minority, he can do just that.

The saddest thing is, I’d say 25% of Harper voters last night did so just because they are ‘sick of elections’.  Meanwhile, people are dying for a chance to have a right to vote in the first place, a vote that is actually counted.  These countries are shaking their heads at you, today, as am I. Harper’s refusal to cooperate with other parties has finally paid off for him; he’s manipulated you into no longer giving a damn who runs things, as long as no one troubles you with the details.

25% of the remaining voters are ‘punishing’ Dalton McGuinty in Ontario or are afraid of the NDP 20 years later.  Ontario, do you not remember Mike Harris?  Why do you think McGuinty has raised the taxes he has?  He’s been cleaning up the disaster Harris left us, between the megacity merge, downloaded items onto the municipal budget that forced David Miller into difficult decisions, and never mind dramatic rises in tuition and a disregard for health care and the poor.  Harper wants to download even more items onto the provincial dwindling coffers; if you think he will somehow save you taxes and money, think again, because the provinces will simply increase their share of the invoice.  That $400 health tax – which, by the way, many Canadians only pay a partial amount of, as it’s scaled to income – is going to seem like pennies four years from now. All because you fear a man who was always Liberal at heart (hell, look at the riding he’s holding right now in Toronto, Ontario!).

Selfish, foolish fallacy has befallen our once great country.  When the piper comes calling in four years, remember this:  rebuilding rubble carries a far greater price than simple renovations, and either way, we pay the bill.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,