Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

martes, agosto 06, 2013

Maybe You Could Just Apologize?

Imagine your Bloguero's shock when he discovered that according to Conde Nast Traveler the city of his birth, Newark, New Jersey, is rated the most unfriendly city in the United States. Right. And Jackson, Mississippi, he learned,is one of the most friendly? Please. Stop. This is total bs. He wasn't going to dignify this latest insult to the Brick City with a comment. But listen. A few surly employees at the airport do not an unfriendly city make.

Au contraire. If you're from Newark, and in the broad, wide world you meet someone else, someone you didn't know before from Newark, the comradery is instant. Your Bloguero, in fact, everyone, even people from Short Hills and Summit and Livingston, knows Newark is tough. And has crime issues. And housing issues. And employment issues. And corruption and education issues. Your Bloguero is not telling you it's the Garden (State) of Eden. Not at all. But all of those unpleasant attributes, and others your Bloguero chooses not to dwell upon here, mean that when members of the vast Newark diaspora meet in other places, far from Springfield Avenue and Market Street, we're happy to be alive. And we joke, that's right, we joke about coming from Nurk. That we must be like those legendary cockroaches, able to weather nuclear winter and climate change and bad juju and every damn other thing, including Newark winter and its public transportation, and we're filled with gratitude that we're making it, that we're out here, doing whatever we're doing. We're escapees. But all of that does not make the city unfriendly. It does not. It just makes its people friendly.

To be simple, Conde Nasty is taking a cruel shot at the city of my birth. And they do that because they have no clue. And they are entranced by the myth of Southern hospitality. They don't know that behind that smiling, nodding, gracious, Southern demeanor is usually somebody who at the slightest provocation will stab you through your jugular vein with a fork and then tell you, "Oh sir, let me help you with all that blood there."

The other thing to be said is that Conde Nasty is no Philip Roth. They don't know the difference between having character and being bland.

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sábado, agosto 03, 2013

Part Two: Where's Your Bloguero's Dough?

(Amig@s, you will recall yesterday's banking drama in which your Bloguero learned to his surprise and horror that, alas, five of his accounts had been emptied. And they all said they had no dinero in them. You might want to check that out before beginning today's installment

Last night was a sleepless one for your Bloguero. He couldn't figure it out how so much money could be so swiftly syphoned from all of his accounts. It did not help that his bank has no 24-hour contact number. It did not help at all that he had to wait until after 8 am to contact someone at the bank to find out what in the world had happened. Your Bloguero knows this part of the time space continuum too well: the more he wants time to pass, the slower it crawls. Call it Watched Pot Syndrome. Call it anything you want. Your Bloguero was crazed, sleepless, fearful, anxious. Not sleeping

Instead of sleeping, Your Bloguero reviewed in microscopic details all of the potential causes of his loss of all of his money. He had not confirmed that the funds were actually stolen even though all the accounts were zero or minus. Maybe they were just seized by the IRS or Big Brother or Mr. Boh. On one hand, maybe it was a hack. Maybe it the eBay and payPal transaction in which he bought of all things not now needed an antique bottle opener? Or maybe it wasn't a hack and it was your Bloguero's fault in some regard and Agents of Government or other nefarious force had restrained his accounts. Was it some transgression he had committed in probating his father's estate? Was it some tax he owed in a distant state a decade ago? Was IRS and everyone else unwilling to give him prior notice of their horrendous acts? Maybe even some crazed creditor of someone else had mistakenly restrained every penny he had. These thoughts, these fantasies are not conducive to restful zzzzz's. No. Au contraire. They are the entry level for insomnia, anxiety, shallow breathing, horror and maybe (if it was something your Bloguero did) shame. Ouch. Double Ouch.

8 am found your Bloguero staring at the second hand and dialing.

This is what he learned. His money was not gone, it was being held. By the bank. And they were quite willing to give it back to him instantly. But did he know that somebody had actually tried to steal his money and that the bank had foiled the attempt? No, he didn't know that. He wished he knew it yesterday, but he's happy to know it now.

The details: somebody sent an email to your Bloguero's bank using his usual gmail address. They followed it up with a phone call or two and some request to wire money to an account in South Carolina. Your Bloguero knows no one in South Carolina. Period. To your Bloguero, South Carolina is something you fly over. It was once where South of the Border was.

The problem with these people, these wanna thieves, is that the branch manager knows your Bloguero and has for years. And she (your Bloguero is flattered by this) said that she doubted that the emails she received could be from El B. Their syntax and word choice was awful. Plus El B usually calls on the phone when he's screwed things up.

Anyway, after taking the information, the branch manager called back the person who was supposed to be me AND HAD MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. And she quickly determined that said person did not know El B's Mom's maiden name. So she, the bank branch manager, took steps to protect his money. She froze every last one of El B's accounts. Said she, "I'd rather have you have a sleepless night than lose your money." Your Bloguero concurs with this.

So the would-be thieves didn't get a penny of El B's money. He is totally filled with gratitude for his bank, his branch manager, and her entire crew.

And this morning, after taking various steps to safeguard his identity, no he did not by a new Luchador mask, your Bloguero went to visit some policemen, who are really very interested in this because, living in a small town, the investigators know your Bloguero and they know the he thinks they are incompetent. El Bloguero has shown them more than once why he thinks this. Your Bloguero hopes that justice prevails.

So although some of the commentators to your Bloguero's earlier essay opined that "this doesn't sound good," El B is here to assure you that all is well. He still has his money.

Now he hopes that the miscreants are caught and tried for identify theft 1st degree and attempted grand larceny. And he hopes that there is something he can do next week to express his gratitude to the bankers who truly saved his bacon by being alert. All gratitude to them.

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jueves, agosto 01, 2013

Where's Your Bloguero's Dough? He Wants It Back!

Your Bloguero's brain is about to explode. Where is his dough? He wants it back. Yes, he knows he's repeating himself.

Your Bloguero was going to write an essay about how none of us has any privacy at all from Government or from Corporations, and that maybe the Fourth Amendment jurisprudence on privacy interests needs to be upgraded because of relatively recent technological advances. And disclosures brought about by Edward Snowden. Your Bloguero was going to carry on about how the supposed innocence of collecting megadata has been transformed by technology, and how conceptions of what privacy means need to be reconsidered. But then your Bloguero got hacked. Yes, he did get hacked.

It's odd. At about 1:08 ET today the bank called on your Bloguero's casa phone to say he should call them as soon as possible. Your Blogueo was working so he didn't get to the phone until after 5 pm, when banks are closed. Your Bloguero figured he bounced something, made some stupid error they wanted him to fix. It is after all a small town, local bank. He's made mistakes before. So your Bloguero went online to see whether he could transfer some funds to fix whatever bookkeeping error might have cropped up.

That Internet visit was like plunging head first into Alice's rabbit hole. Join your Bloguero in fantasy land.

Wow. Your Bloguero discovered on the web that the five accounts he has were all empty or overdrawn. Jeepers. How, your B wonders, could that possibly have happened?

Was it the small Ebay and payPal transaction your Bloguero made last night? Did that provide data that allowed the withdrawals?

Was it those blank checks your Bloguero had delivered to a colleague in Mexico so that monthly expenses for a project could be paid?

Was it his spouse doing something odd in Germany with an ATM card or check?

Was it his son, who is in Mexico? Did he do something?

Was it documents he threw in the garbage at his house, at his job?

What is it? There is no clue at all on the bank web site. Just huge red minuses. And what the red minuses signify: no money.


Your Bloguero finds himself in the middle of an unfolding mystery. The following voicemails: the bank president (told you it was a small town bank), the branch officer who called at 1:08, two lawyer friends No information. Friends called your Bloguero back, they say he needs to call the Bank Prez. In other words, it's a loop.

The bank does not have a 24-hour number to access a person. Or a even a machine. This is hard to accept in the 21st century, but that's how it is. The 24 hour fraud number allows one only to turn off one's credit or debit card. If your Bloguero reaches the bank prez at home, what can he do? He has no access to the "system" from his home. Why? That would be insecure.

And so, your Bloguero finds himself on paper much, much poorer at the moment. And much in doubt as to where his money might have gone. And anxious. And fearful. And of course, upset and angry.

No doubt the story will unfold more in the morning. It better, says your Bloguero. It better lead to the money is returned.

For now, though, there are only questions. They all boil down to this: any illusion your Bloguero might have about the security of his data (or his money) is utterly misplaced. Both are not secure. At all. Any illusion your Bloguero might hold about his privacy is also utterly misplaced. He has none. Absolutely none. Your Bloguero wishes it were otherwise. Sadly, it isn't.

Maybe this is the start of your Bloguero's living a life in which he fully accepts that there is no security of data or money or privacy. That's all fine. In the interim, however, your Bloguero wants his dough back. And after he publishes this essay, he doesn't want to see a zillion advertisements for banking. Or security.

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