Thing I get by e-mail…

…want to share, but have no overreaching theme:

And speaking of overreaching (I stupidly watched the press conference yesterday- grrr!), will W finally be impeached, or at least reined in?

The Constitution in Crisis, a 273-page PDF.
Most of us take those summons for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty that a new and ominous kind of scam has surfaced. Fall for it and your identity could be stolen, reports CBS News.

In this con, someone calls pretending to be a court official who threateningly says a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you didn’t show up for jury duty. The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Sometimes the crooks even ask for credit card numbers. Give out any of this information and bingo! Your identity just got stolen.

The scam has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma, Illinois and Colorado.

Martha Rhynes, a real jury coordinator in Grayson County, Okla., told KXII-TV, “We never call and ask anyone for their Social Security number, date of birth, or other personal information.” Instead, the courts communicate with potential jurors only by mail and never by phone, including people who don’t show up. Most states don’t even have jurors’ phone numbers until they have actually been chosen to sit on a jury. And even then, such information is sealed with the court records. Rhynes’s advice? Never give out personal information over the phone to anyone.

“This (scam) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try and bully people into giving information by pretending they’re with the court system,” Scott Holste, spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, told the Missourian News.

The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their Web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.

Being a cynic sort, I would not pass it on to you without verification: Snopes calls this one TRUE.
How Secure Are Shopping Data? Not very, I’m afraid.
For New Yorkers:
Gov. Pataki calls back legislature to revive broken death penalty! Assembly and State Senate are scheduled to meet Wednesday, December 21. Please act right now. Governor Pataki has a given us a lump of coal for Christmas. Please call your Assembly member and State Senator NOW.
Message- we don’t need a death penalty to protect our police. The facts are
clear: the death penalty is not a deterrent and there are far better ways to honor and support our police than bringing it back.

Time is obviously extremely short. Telephone calls and faxes are needed NOW. Once again, in NYC, to locate your state legislators, please visit (Outside NYC,, Citizen Action Toolkit, My Elected Officials)

Please tell your legislators that we know that the capital punishment system is intrinsically flawed and unnecessary. Legislation which is thrown together, in ignorance and in disregard of the facts, dishonors us, our police and our government.

Please contact for more info.
And now, for something completely different (and disturbing):

One take on this odd phenomenon.

And another.

(The Last Two) Fridays on my mind

12/9: I’m lying in bed and my wife says to me, “Albany schools are CLOSED because of the snow!” Groggy, I’m thinking, “Yeah, that’s nice. So what? We live in Albany, but you don’t teach in Albany, we don’t have a kid going to school in Albany schools.” Had I been more awake, I would have picked up on the nuance; if Albany schools are closed, then virtually ALL the schools are closed. And indeed they were, including the two where Carol teaches. Except the school in Rensselaer, who went “Nyah-nyah” to everyone else when the storm wasn’t as bad as many had feared.

This meant I could go to racquetball without taking Lydia to day care first, as her mother would take her.

We had a babysitter that night and went to hear the Albany Symphony Orchestra at the “acoustically perfect” Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Friends at church, Philip and Marilyn, had tickets they couldn’t use. The first segment was the world premiere of Dr. Michael Woods’ “funk and jazz-inspired” “Places of Light”. It was enjoyable, but it reminded me in places of 1970s and 1980s television detective show theme songs such as the Rockford Files and Ironside. The next part was Spirituals at the Holidays featuring 6 African American spirituals newly re-imagined by leading American composers and sung by young African American baritone, Nathan De’Shon Myers. Not only was he great, but the pieces were as well. The dialogue between the singer and the horn player in the last piece was tremendous.

During the intermission, I saw a number of folks I knew, many from church. Then there was this woman who looked VERY familiar, but who I could not place. It appeared she was having a similar experience. I told her my name, and she told me hers, then suddenly I knew EXACTLY who she was: she was, and maybe still is, the best friend of my ex-wife. We had a pleasant enough time, though, when my current wife comes over. Naturally, I had to introduce them. Carol says, “So how do you know each other?” The woman and I look at each other uncomfortably, before I said, “We have a mutual acquaintance.” Almost immediately after that, I noted who the “mutual acquaintance” was. I’m not so sure why I was being so coy about it at first.

The second part of the sold-out concert was Beethoven’s 5th. The tune is so well known as to invite parody. There’s the Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy that appears on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. P.D.Q Bach does a hilarious “New Horizons In Music Appreciation” that sounds like footbal play-by-play on this album. So the conductor took the first four notes quite fast, and the reply more elongated.

Even married folks need to date.

12/16: Carol’s two schools are each delayed two hours, which means she only has to go to the latter. I check the listings and the day care is not on the list at 6:25. So, I take Lydia on the bus, only to find the day care, which was open last week, was indeed closed. The problem is that I have 25 minutes until the next bus home, and freezing rain’s coming down. I thought to stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts, but I had no cash. So I stopped at the drug store, put her in the cart, and rode her around for 15 minutes, buying nothing. We went out to wait for the bus in a fairly sheltered area, loitering in front of a not-yet-open shop. I drop Lydia off with her mother, try to get back downtown in time to play some racquetball, but it’s too late, so I head to work. I call Carol at home and say,that I’ll come home if she wants to go to her second school. But she’s already decided that she doesn’t want to go out if she doesn’t have to in this weather.

And it’s a good thing I’m at work, because others were not. This storm, with far less snow, was worse because of the ice, and some of the folks at work weren’t making it in at all.

It appeared to me that the administrators of the schools that closed on the 9th felt so badly to lose the day that they stubbornly (and wrongly, to my mind) decided to be open on the following week, when it was far more treacherous.

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