Those of us that have been watching the economy with a degree of concern might feel that the banks and business have lost touch with the America we thought we lived in. My naive view of what banks were for was to provide a secure place for people to keep their money and to receive interest on their savings and at the same time your money would be loaned out to others for a little more than you were being paid for your savings. Those activities are only a marginal part of banking today. Banks make billions on fees designed to screw their customers.

About a month ago Intuit (the makers of Quicken) told me that they had crippled my 2007 version of Quicken so it would no longer download transactions as it had been for the past few years. I naively assumed that when I bought the software it would work as advertised for as long as I chose to use it. There was no technical reason behind this move, it was simply a means of screwing me and millions of other users out of another $40, nothing else. You might say I was free to stop using their product, and this is true, but they know that the amount of effort to switch to something else would have cost me more than $40; but the point is, it is a dirty double-cross, unethical, and quite likely illegal; but I’m certainly not in a position to spend millions to get our legal system to do the right thing.

As I set up my new version of Quicken, I decided to correct all the many bugs and annoyances I’d been living with and to try to get a totally accurate and up to date picture of my finances. This meant setting up several on-line accounts, and that’s where I found that the banks are now charging for the automatic downloads of transactions $3.95 per month. I try not to think in the terms the banks wants us to think, so I did the math, $3.95 * 12 = $47.40 and of course I deal with three banks and four brokerage houses and a number of other institutions; so its close to $500 a year that I’m supposed to spend for what used to be “free”.  Before all these fees, the same services were provided for free and the banks were making healthy profits. The banks have grown bigger and bigger as they gobble up smaller banks, reducing out freedom of choice and making it so it is impossible to avoid the dozens of fees with which the banks are sticking us.

Banks hit us with ATM fees. An ATM allows a bank to do the same work with fewer employees, tus saving the bank substantial amounts of money, then they charge us for using these impersonal cost savers.

When you call just about any business, you will likely get an electronic voice and be required to sift through annoying menu after menu and then you’ll be put on hold and be forced to listen to advertisements and lies about how much they value your business. If you end up trying to use on-line services, next time you do it, notice all the hoops they put you through to make what should be a convenience not only inconvenient, bit downright annoying and often fraught with lots of slight of hand. – Ever filled out an electronic form only to find that choices you thought you had made or not made were automatically changed back. You know the items, “Do you wish to receive our annoying emails?” Somehow, you always end up being tricked into agreeing to something you really don’t want. You choose not to receive such and such, then you are told you need to provide some additional info only to find that if you don’t re-read the entire form, some options have been turned back on. Hmmm. American businesses simply have no respect for the consumer.


I wrote this back in September of 2011 but never posted it, until now. Hmmm. Now we’ve had the US credit downgraded which will cost hundreds of billions of dollars in added interest charges on the staggering national debt in addition to hundreds of billions in higher interest for the rest of us. Since September 2011, we also witnessed Fukishima melt down only to prove that we can’t count on nuclear to solve our energy problems. We pulled out of Iraq, then ISIS conquered not only Iraq but Syria and large swaths of other regions. We’d spent close to 2 trillion fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, then ISIS blows in and in less than a year conquers the entire area, stealing whatever funds and equipment they needed to do it. Things just seem to be getting worse and worse

Have you noticed a trend in the past several years? Things are getting worse and worse, not better. Our standard of living in the United States is getting worse and that translates into things getting worse all over the world. First, the US economy tanked because of the greedy folks on Wall Street, and in short order, the world economy tanked right along with it – save for a few exceptions such as China, India, and the oil exporting countries. We’ve watched as the US got sucked into two immensely expensive wars that are making the worlds largest debtor nation even more indebted. We watched as Hurricane Katrina showed how impotent the US is in dealing with the really big problems, then the BP oil spill in the gulf proved just how suspect our technology is. We are being told that global warming is real, but we’re not going to do anything about it now, we’ll wait for more technology to solve the problems. We’ve been waiting 40 years for that technology, but we’re gonna wait some more.

I started writing this blog over a decade ago when GW Bush was president. The national debt was about $9 trillion, now it is $18 trillion and climbing. Don’t blame Obama, he inherited two wars and the financial crisis that is mostly responsible for that increase, although he doesn’t get off scott free either. Our education system is ranked 18th in the world yet it is the most expensive. The country is hemorrhaging jobs, unemployment is supposedly at 5.6%, but that’s just a slight of hand since its closer to 18% if you include people who’ve given up or are underemployed. Europe is about to tank financially with a domino effect of countries defaulting on their debt and the states in the US are in nearly as bad a shape.

At times like this we look for leadership, not just the president, but congress. Good luck there. The Republicans are doing a full court press to ensure that the Democrats cannot do anything of substance, and what little does get done, they are making sure that the laws enacted can’t possibly accomplish what they need to. Health care reform could have been a good thing to bring down prices and control costs, but the Republicans forced the Democrats to remove anything useful and ensure that it will be a colossal failure and even more colossally expensive. Most people didn’t want a national healthcare system because they were told a pack of lies about what it might do; but the bottom line is that without serious cost containment; the country will continue losing jobs to countries that do not suffer the crushing costs of providing workers health care coverage. If you wonder why the US can’t compete, look no further. There are other reasons, but employee benefits and taxes – taxes used to support health care, rank way up there.

The Republicans want to ensure we don’t get a climate bill passed, don’t want to rein in Wall Street, don’t want to see big business play fairly or responsibly and claim to be for smaller government; yet that deficit leap of $5 trillion came at the hands of a Republican with a Republican congress.

Before you flame me for being a bleeding heart Democrat, I’m a registered Republican and it sickens me to see that our country is being allowed to collapse for lack of leadership. We should have a renewable energy policy, climate change policy, health care reform, end the wars, fix the banks, protect American jobs and quite frankly I don’t give a crap who gets to take credit for it, but it needs to get done. Peering into my crystal ball, it ain’t gonna get done and the US will go the way of the Roman Empire. Look at the events of the past decades and you can find 1 for 1 parallels to events from history, events that led to the collapse of nearly all the great societies. You can find lessons that should have avoided the 2008 economic meltdown, lessons that should have avoided the BP oil spill, lessons that should have avoided the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, and on and on. These are not trivial mistakes. Each one will cost trillions or more, and even now, a trillion dollars is a lot of money. The really big lesson we’ve ignored will allow global warming to kill off our economy as well as millions if not billions of people worldwide. If that doesn’t kill our economy, energy will.

Sarah Palin would simply arm a bunch of good ol’ boys to line up on the border and blow away anyone trying to sneak into this country. It wouldn’t work and of course isn’t right, and the strategy we have today isn’t working any better. Perhaps we are all looking at the whole issue the wrong way. The solution is so simple, merge the two countries. It’s already happening. By 2050, better than 50% of the US population will be Hispanic and there isn’t a thing we can or should do to try to stop it.

I don’t think people should be allowed to break the law or collect benefits without paying taxes or gain citizenship simply because they can sneak across the border, and those three points are the main reasons why everyone is up in arms about illegal immigrants. The rest is racism or fear of the unknown, and America has always been racist and has always mistrusted foreigners and, even though we have made some progress, we still have a way to go on both fronts. If the US and Mexico agreed to merge, Americans would be free to move to Mexico, own land, start businesses, employ locals and help develop Mexico and Mexicans would be free to do what they are already doing now as illegals. I am not proposing exploitation, but an equal partnership that over time would make Mexico just a bunch more states within the United States.

Would there be problems with such a process, certainly. Are they insurmountable? Definitely not. Many Americans perceive Mexico as completely backward, corrupt, and impoverished; and parts of Mexico certainly are those things, but other parts of Mexico are modern and relatively prosperous; but even so, just as the western territories in the United States were initially undeveloped until the mid 1800s and most of the inhabitants were impoverished, prosperity came quickly as capitalism, free enterprise, and industriousness worked its magic. That was only a little over a century ago, and it took less than 50 years for California to go from an afterthought to one of the most prosperous regions of the country.

Such a move could be a win/win for both countries. Most certainly US businesses would flock to Mexico to take advantage of lower cost labor and untapped markets. With the status as a US territory, many of the challenges and concerns that have kept US businesses out of the country would be eliminated. Individuals from the US could move to Mexico in search of work, providing skills that may not be found in local workers. Mexican businesses and workers could feel free to move north or even commute without fear of harassment, imprisonment or exploitation. As Mexico’s economy improved, as it inevitably would, there would be more jobs, more opportunity, more business, and more need for infrastructure. There would also be more tax revenue and the once illegal immigrants would finally be part of the system. The US could compete with China in manufacturing once again and even though that may mean some US jobs might end up in Mexico, they’re already flowing to China and India, so at the very least, they would add to the US tax base.

This may sound like  a crazy idea, but so too did the Louisiana Purchase, the purchase of Alaska, the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the flight to the moon and on and on.

Our Energy Future

The future of our nation’s and the world’s energy security has been a significant issue since the 1970s. While we have a steep uphill climb to ever be free from the dominance of the oil producing nations and the pollution from coal and other fossil fuels; there are a few positive signs. The US, Europe, and China are increasing their share of electricity being produced by renewables such as wind and solar. The pace of this transition is far too slow, but it is moving along even if the pace is glacially slow in the US.

What is needed to become energy independent is a long way off. We need to move to an almost all electric society and nobody alive today will see that happen. This implies an entire fleet of all electric vehicles, and on the positive side, there are now over a dozen major auto manufacturers with imminent electric hybrids and four companies planning on releasing all electric vehicles by 2012. As electric vehicles come on-line, there will be a need for more electricity and this can either offset the rise in renewable energy or could actually lead to more CO2 emissions by burning more coal and natural gas to supply the electricty needed.

Currently, one quarter of all electricity used is used for lighting. The advent of affordable LED lights that last ten times as long as standard incandescent bulbs while consuming about 1/10th the power will go a long way to reducing some of that added requirement. Architects are talking about talking about the discussion about the conversation on “green” building, but only a handful are actually doing anything. Since heating of homes and buildings is a major component of our energy use, this of course is another easy fix that isn’t sexy enough to gain much attention.

I’m looking into my crystal ball. We just had a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. All the lips in the nation’s capital are flapping like mad. My crystal ball tells me that within a year the memory of this spill will begin to fade and within five years everything will be business as usual and we’ll be drilling new wells all over our coasts and waiting for the next environmental disaster. We’ll be told we must do this, we must continue to build our dependance on oil and avoid the obvious solution, which is, do whatever it takes to break our addiction. The analogy to a drug addiction is a good one since how we have dealt with energy has been precisely the way a drug addict deals with their problem, and that is, ignore it. If you’ve known a real drug addict, you know this is true. The solution seems so obvious, but it always manages to elude the addict until they have no choice, which is usually too late. Breaking a drug habit is far easier said than done, but to break an energy dependency all it takes is political will and lots of money. We never had political will and the money we had was squandered fighting two wars at, by some estimates, between two and three trillion dollars.

We are told, like we have been told for the past 37 years, that we must wait for the technological innovations that are right around the corner. Sadly, we can’t afford to wait, but we will wait just the same. We are told renewable energy is too expensive, but if we factor in the trillions spent fighting in the Middle East, renewables are a bargain compared to oil. If we factor in the health and environmental costs of oil and coal and even natural gas, it’s even more of a bargain. Alas, we will only do what we know we must when there is no more oil, no more coal, and no more opposition.

We will only change our ways when we are left no choice. You’d think the BP oil spill would be a wakeup call, but who really cares about a few billion fish, a few thousand square miles of ocean, about contaminated food supplies, beaches, and lord only knows what other consequences of this spill and the next and the next and the next. The country is suffering through a brutally hot summer which some claim is a sign of things to come. We’ll wait to see if they are right. Perhaps after we have a hundred years of steadily climbing triple digit heat waves, then we’ll start to talk about the outline for a discussion on the possibility of talks. Perhaps mass starvation due to droughts and water shortages would get the discussion rolling. Perhaps a few terrorists knocking out just one refinery and throwing the entire US economy into a tailspin would do it.  Maybe a scientist will figure out that the alarming rise in childhood disease such as autism is caused by the heavy metals emitted by coal plants or automobile tailpipes. We should just wait and see. Its worth the risk to save a few bucks, right.

When we are forced up against the wall and we have no options left, like say a sustained oil embargo, then we’ll act and we’ll do things in a way that are many orders of magnitude more expensive than they’d be today, and all those that had been telling us how expensive renewable energy was would claim they were right. They aren’t right, but they will be.

Even what we are doing today is bordering on the absurd. There is a small energy project on the drawing boards. I won’t mention it by name or the players because I don’t want to see it stopped, but how it is being portrayed is mind boggling. The project costs $300,000, $250,000 of which is being paid for by the utility and the other $50,000 by the business. The business claims that it will save $9,000 per year so it expects to recoup its investment in a little over 7 years. The rest of us get to pay for the other part. The real payback would be 33.37 years, greater than the anticipated life of the equipment. I am skeptical of the $9,000 figure too, since that’s optimal performance and where the project is situated has a number of serious issues for that sort of project. I’m all for doing anything, and this certainly is anything, but if that same project were situated in the Nevada desert and the energy were just credited to the businesses account, everyone would be far better off and we’d get far more bang for the buck and that $9,000 savings could easily be $15,000 or more and the projects life would likely be longer as well. This sort of thing is being done all across the nation, doing the right thing in the wrong place and hiding the true costs. That’s my point about finding the most expensive ways to fund what must be done.

Bottom line. We’ve got a steep hill to climb and more and more people are placing obstacles in our way.

Proofreading Software

I am a software developer and an author and a teacher, among other things; and my company has just released a software program to assist teachers and authors with proof-reading, marking up, and evaluating writing. The product is called Proof-Write and this is not intended as a pitch for the product, rather a discussion of why I developed the software. If you are interested in the software, the above link will take you to that discussion.

I read a lot and buy a good number of books and have searched the Internet looking for short stories, books, and other freely available writing just to see what others are doing. The Project Gutenberg web site is great for the classics and thousands of freely available works published before 1930. Aside from that, I know how hard it is for writers to get published, so it only seemed logical that those that spend months if not years creating a book only to find nobody will ever read it are likely to publish it on the Internet, perhaps for free in an attempt to gain a following. Some pretty famous authors got their start self-publishing, and now with a number of decent alternatives such as the Kindle, iPad, and other eReaders; it seems likely more and more people will be publishing electronic versions of their work. So, you’d think there are tons of great new works out there waiting to be read by avid readers, and that may be true, but there is so much horrible writing that finding a gem among all the crap is difficult, to say the least. The problems I encounter range from authors who can’t form coherent sentences, people who have nothing to say, and those that might have an interesting story but need work in any number of areas. This last category are the ones for whom I designed Proof-Write, for them and established prolific Internet authors who are just looking for people to review their work and flag trouble spots to help them hone their craft. I developed it because I love to write and believe that writing skills for so many people are sorely lacking, and that this can be cured with nudges in the right direction.

Proof-Write allows an author to create a story, post a link to Proof-Write and allow users to read the story, and if the author so desires, the reader can offer comments, mark-ups, and even a rating for various elements of the story; elements like the story line, the writing, the character development, and originality. The author can also make it so the reader can only read and rate the story, can make it so the reader can’t copy the file or even sections of it to the clipboard, or make it so they can download it to their Kindle or their computer or another device; all on a story by story basis. The general concept is to get people to read an author’s work and provide feedback, be it just a rating on the various elements or a full blow proofreading of the story with embedded comments and markups, perhaps even suggested rewrites. Each proofreader creates a separate set of markups with the author the only other person to be able to see the markups and comments. The author can make corrections on a side by side comparison, and the updated story can be available in near real time.

The whole idea is to make writing a collaborative effort.

One thing led to another and the program took on a new dimension, schools. In addition to its original mission, it became a program that would allow a teacher to hand out homework writing assignments, the students to complete their assignment, and then the teacher could mark them up, grade them, and ‘return’ them; all electronically.

When it came time to market the product, it seemed clear that teachers and schools were the sweet spot since they are a clearly identifiable group, although there is little hope of ever getting rich off the educational market since schools are universally broke and teachers most certainly aren’t overpaid; just overworked and under appreciated. On an hourly basis, many teachers get paid close to minimum wage. We expect teachers that are anxious to save time and energy grading papers to be our primary market, even if they need to spend their own money, thus a price of just $10 per teacher, plus $1 per student. Authors are similarly priced, $10 per author, $1 per proof reader, nothing for readers.

When I was in school, I struggled with writing. I rarely sought out help and teachers rarely gave me more than a few quick notes on why my writing sucked, never showed me a better way of saying what I was trying to say, so it’s no wonder my writing didn’t improve until many years after I left school. Proof-Write allows all sorts of authors to enlist the help of others, be it a student seeking a parent’s or friend’s proofreading their homework or term paper before turning it in, or an Internet author seeking feedback from their readers in a well structured and well organized fashion. This is the sort of tool I wish I had back when I was struggling with writing assignments and when I was working on books with only the slimmest of chances of ever being published.

Writing is difficult to do well, and with input from people who like to read the work of new authors, a tool such as this can be a big help to someone who just doesn’t get the feedback they need to make significant improvements in their work. It can also help students to improve far more than a teacher just circling a few grammatical errors, slapping a grade on the top of the paper and maybe a quick comment. Time and space often prohibit teachers from doing much more, and with handwriting as hideous as my own, I was often embarrassed to write more than the minimum.

Schools have invested upwards of $60 billion in computers, yet there is little tangible benefit to be seen. Applications such as this may be the sort of thing to allow students and teachers to get more out of each assignment and to dramatically improve the final product. I am not claiming that this one application alone is justification for the massive expenditures on computers and infrastructure, but it is a step in the right direction.

Most people don’t know that as far back as the 1960s the US was acutely aware of the need to free ourselves from the domination of oil and all fossil fuels. We’d seen the price of oil spike, we’d been seeing massive environmental calamities, we’d seen just how powerful and unreliable our sources of oil were and how vulnerable our economy was. The Exxon Valdez wasn’t our first or last wakeup call, there have been thousands of serious spills, millions of less serious ones, but we simply refuse to get a clue. Even as the Gulf Coast is being blanketed with millions of gallons of oil, even as the oil slick is spreading into the Gulf Stream and preparing to wrap around Florida and make its way up the East coast killing off everything in its path and destroying the lives of millions of people that live on or near the coast; the president that talked big on renewable energy and left off shore oil drilling as a last resort is saying that he plans to allow more drilling, and his only requirement is that these supposedly 100% safe wells be made more safe.

Nobody in their right mind thinks that BP wanted this disaster to happen. They are losing millions of dollars in revenue and billions in the costs associated with the cleanup and legal battles that will enrich thousands of lawyers and only partly compensate the victims. We can all expect the cost of energy to ratchet up because of this. We can expect to see taxes ratchet up, health care costs to increase, insurance costs to bump higher, food prices, and those increases to be reflected in a spiral of more inflation.

Because of this spill, we’ll see yet another round of cries for expansion of nuclear – touted as safe and clean; just ask the people living with 1,000 miles of Chernobyl about that. We’re told today’s reactors are much safer, yet back then we were told those reactors, even the crappy Soviet reactor, was 100% safe. Every year there are thousands of accidental releases of radiation and thousands of violations and ‘incidents’ at nuclear plants all over the country and the world. Safe is a relative word, but we’ll make this mistake again too and we will suffer a serious accidents and we’ll ignore the need to maintain extremely dangerous nuclear waste for the next 10,000 years.

Just as any junkie knows, they don’t want to be junkies, they just want their drugs. They want their drugs and either choose to or simply must ignore the many, many, many problems those drugs bring. They know they are expensive, more expensive than anyone can afford. They know they are destroying their user. They know they are enriching all the wrong people. They know they negatively affect people other than the junkie, that they are bad for society as a whole and mankind in general. Even so, they must go on using, they have no choice; except they do have a choice and some junkies do manage to kick their habit. Everyone in the United States and the world knows what needs to be done, but we simply refuse to do it.

We need renewable energy, we need clean energy, we need electric cars, but we’re told they are too expensive, that it can’t be done, that we need to wait and wait and wait. We’ve been waiting forty years. We know these are all lies, excuses made up by those that stand to lose their immense power and even more immense wealth. We’re told that wind and solar and geothermal and ocean waves and hydro simple can’t do the job and would be too expensive, that oil and coal is cheaper. Tell that to the thousands of soldiers that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Add in the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, $2 trillion and climbing not to mention the costs associated with the hatred those two fine wars have generated. Don’t forget to add in the $1 trillion this one oil spill will cost, or the trillions past and future oil spills will cost. We need to place a value on the cost of the destroyed lives and livelihoods and the higher prices we’ll all be paying for the next few centuries along with the health costs. This single oil spill will kill off major ecological areas, destroy important and ever dwindling sources of seafood, possibly destroying half the coastlines and fisheries of the United States, making us dependent on foreign sources of food at a time when China and India are flexing their muscles and buying up the world’s resources at an alarming rate in order to feed their own swelling populations.

Oil isn’t cheap. It’s highly subsidized and we all know it, we just can’t get our brains around all the ways its subsidized. Aaramco the others should be fighting the wars in the Middle East, not the United States. We’re fighting these wars to ensure a steady supply of oil, but if China outbids us on the price of a barrel, they get it – so we’re actually fighting for the highest bidder, not our own self interest.

We can afford renewable energy, as much as we need, and it can be done in such a way as to cost even less than what we are doing now, even before the spill and all the costs it will heap upon us. It can be done so that more expensive cars that run on electricity can be made affordable by making the electricity even cheaper than it is today. I have written a book on how renewable energy can be affordable, even profitable. It’s an entirely new approach as to how to pay for it, an approach that allows anyone that wishes to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem to do so and to come out ahead not only in terms of doing the right thing, but financially. The book is Profitable Renewable Energy:It Can Be Done and it is available at Amazon.

Just what we need, more advertising. Apple plans on adding a new advertising service to the iPhone and iPad platform. In the past few months I’ve been ranting and raving about just how damn much we are being subjected to ever increasing advertising, almost the the exclusion of all else. I’m willing to bet that unless you strip yourself naked and take a long hike into the most remote wilderness, there isn’t a 60 second period of your life that isn’t subjected to advertising. Every time you see a logo or a company name, that’s advertising. Without moving from my chair, I can clearly see the logo of no less than 27 different companies and less clearly probably twenty more, and that’s not including what’s on my computer screen. Now Apple wants to start popping up adds every time you try to use your $500 iPhone that costs you an added $30/month for the privilege over and above your calling plan or your iPad that costs upwards of $1,000 in addition to monthly service fees. Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world, they don’t need more revenue, it’s simply more greed. Steve Jobs claim that “This is us helping our developers make money so they can survive and keep the prices of their apps reasonable.” Most decent apps are making plenty of money even at $10 a pop. With a hundred million captive users, there’s plenty of opportunity for handsome profits if the app is worthwhile.

My cable company finally forced me to go to a cable box if I want to watch more than the basic ABC, CBS, and NBC. Now, when I change channels, not only do I see the slew of ads being broadcast by the networks, but the cable box forces me to watch an addition cable company sponsored ad for several seconds. Your TV screen used to be dedicated to the program, but now there are all manner of ads on screen all the time. The station logo is ever present, and it isn’t small, it’s huge and it is intentionally distracting. Then their are the pop up ads in the corner of the screen during the program, then the banner ad the to or bottom advertising even more crap, and sometimes both top and bottom, leaving just half the screen for programming. Just get it over with and only show ads and forget about the programming altogether. I hope the next time one of the bastards at the networks or cable companies is in middle of a surgery, that the surgeon takes the guy out of anesthesia and starts pitching some sort of optional surgery or post care services.

People pay good money to become walking billboards for companies by buying t-shirts, hats, pants, or whatever. You can’t walk down the isle in a grocery store without machines spitting out coupons or in some stores, a video screen right on the car telling you what to by. Every can, bottle, box is a mini billboard. Every time you turn on an electronic device, it advertises the manufacturer and sometimes other stuff. Even walking in the woods or down the street, you’re sure to see a candy wrapper or a pack of cigarets. Our kids are bombarded with advertising on TV, on the bus, at school, on billboards, on clothing, and on and on. Drive down your own street and you see political signs and real estate signs and signs from contractors, pavers, painters, gardeners, and other businesses. Trucks and vans advertise to you, your car advertises to you and the guy behind you. Sit in a restaurant and there are advertisements all over the table. For many TV shows advertising is a full third of the programming time, seldom less than a fifth. We get calls on our phones soliciting crap despite ‘do not call’ and the politicians that voted for do not call made sure they were exempt.

My solution to all this crap is that I will not buy any product that is pitched to me in a way that I feel is excessive or intrusive. I won’t vote for candidates that call my house and I won’t buy any product sold by a telemarketer. I’ve switches brands, cancelled services, and if the iPhone starts pitching crap I don’t want to see, I’ll shit can it too. I love my iPhone, but I won’t put up with this crap and I encourage you to do the same. It’s out of hand!