Letters from the Lunar Outpost

Valour, glory, firmness, skill, generosity, steadiness in battle and ability to rule - these constitute the duty of a soldier. They flow from his own nature.
- Bhagavad Gita, Sanskrit Poem Incorporated into the Mahabharata (c. B.C. 400)

News

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Islamic Terror Targets Gay Bar in Florida

You would think the very first priority of president would be the safety and security of the citizens who elected him, but when it comes to allowing immigration from countries where so many people hate us, our current president seems willing to roll the dice, despite the fact that we know so many of the terror attacks in Europe have been perpetrated by immigrants from those very same countries.

Barack Obama has been called "the first gay president".

When you look at the world around us, Muslim countries are the only countries on the face of the Earth where being gay is considered a crime punishable by death. Now that this latest incident of Islamic terror has been targeted at a gay bar in Florida, maybe now – finally – the man who has been called “our first gay president” will rethink his policy of opening the flood gates to these cesspools of radicalism.

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I don’t want to see a President Trump almost as much as I don’t want to see a return to the White House of the Clinton kleptocracy, but every time we see more reports of anti-Trump rioters assaulting women, waving Mexican flags and burning the American flag, we also see Trump’s poll numbers going up as well.

trump-protesters

Beyond the irony that these protesters seem intent on proving there’s some truth in Trump’s statements about illegal immigrants, it makes me wonder . . .

Why Are the Anti-Trump Protesters Out There Helping Donald Trump's Cause?

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I got all the supplies to set up two phones in the new office, for $52 each we’ll be running two magicJacks, they come with a year of service (big savings over one year’s service for two traditional lines) I got the Ethernet cables, I got the phone cords and previously, I brought an old landline phone I wasn’t using to the new office.

Now it’s 8pm, I have to leave for the office at seven in the morning and I realize I have everything I need to set things up except for . . . the second phone! It’s 8pm, most of the local stores are already shut down and if you haven’t noticed, those old landline phones are getting harder and harder to find.

To the rescue comes Amazon Now! It was only $15 for a landline phone (I had to pad the order with a bathroom scale and a 6 pack of ramen noodles to get the total up over the minimum $30) and it’ll be delivered to my door in 2 to 4 hours. Thank you, Amazon Now!

Having just launched the service, So. Cal. is one of only five areas in the U.S. which Amazon Now is serving, but what a convenience! It’s 8pm, and I can head up to the office long before the rest of the retail stores open and not have to worry about stopping off and trying to figure out who even sells those old school phones anyways.

With Black Friday, we already see that year after year, people are avoiding the crush of the crowds and that more of the money spent is being spent online. Just imagine what will happen when Amazon Now expands itself to bigger swaths of the country and more and more people can see an online order as not something that will arrive day after tomorrow, but two hours from now?

When Jeff Bezos’ dream of drone delivery passes federal regulations and you have a bunch of drone jockeys in a bunker bypassing traffic to fly straight through the air from point A to point B, then you’ll have Amazon Now as reliable out in the rural areas as it is here in So. Cal.

It’s all good and awesome from my perspective as a consumer, but I can only wonder, when you can get your goods from Amazon Now delivered in a couple hours to your door, what’s going to happen to all those brick and mortar businesses? What’s going to happen to all those stores in the shopping malls and the strip malls? Are we going to be living in a wasteland of abandoned plots and plummeting real estate values for the strip malls?

I have this vision where we’ll all be living in a future where everything can be delivered to your door in under two hours, but we’ll all be driving around towns that will look something like this:

abandoned

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The Ugly Truth About Yelp

Today, I saw a lot of news organizations running stories about Yelp suing South Park for $10 million dollars for lampooning the company in their latest episode. Unfortunately for those news organizations, the story which had briefly topped Google News just isn’t true.

A Yelp spokesperson says the company isn’t actually suing South Park and Comedy Central, and reports of the news came from a hoax site, which Google News briefly attributed to NBC. “We have no interest in legal action against the fantastic team that makes the South Park magic happen,” the spokesperson told Eater.

source: The Week

Those news organizations may have gotten scammed, but it’s nothing compared to the scam Yelp ran for many years on businesses and the public at large.

The scam Yelp was running was so blatant, I really can’t believe they got away with it for as long as they did. Basically, the way it worked was that as a business, if you were willing to sign up for a business account and pay the monthly fee, then any time you would receive a negative review, it was as simple as a phone call to your Yelp account manager to get that review removed.

By the time the company I was working for decided to quit paying Yelp for their service (a more accurate term might be “extortion fees”) we had a total of 34 reviews removed from the front page and buried behind a small link that called them “other reviews that are not currently recommended” (and thus, were not factored into our Yelp score).

Of course, that all was exposed to the public at large when Yelp was sued for their extortion schemes and people realized not only were businesses forced into a paying into the equivalent of a mafia-style protection scam but that because of this, Yelp was completely unreliable as a service to everyone else looking to vet businesses.

Rumor has it that all the lawsuits filed against them forced them to reconsider their tactics, but after all the sleazy practices that I saw running rampant in that organization, personally I would never, ever trust Yelp for an opinion on anything.

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Skid Row

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles County’s homeless population has grown by 12 percent during the past two years amid a sluggish economic recovery that has left the poorest residents of the second-largest U.S. metropolitan area falling farther behind, a study released on Monday found.

 

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s report cited stagnant or falling wages among the lowest-income earners, a local jobless rate that remains above state and national averages, and a worsening lack of affordable housing.

source: Reuters

The ranks of the homeless are swelling, but you’d never know it from the nightly news broadcasts. I find it fascinating, because I’m old enough to remember the days when Reagan was president and if you’re old enough to remember the 80s, you’re old enough to remember that there was no issue the media pushed harder on its broadcasts than the plight of the homeless in Reagan’s America.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was reminded of that ’80s fixation at the grocery store as they piped over the speakers Phil Collins’ song “Another Day in Paradise”, a #1 hit from 1989 which spotlighted the problem in both the video and its poignant lyrics:

She calls out to the man on the street
‘Sir, can you help me?
It’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep,
Is there somewhere you can tell me?’

 

He walks on, doesn’t look back
He pretends he can’t hear her
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there

 

Oh think twice, it’s another day for you and me in paradise
Oh think twice, ’cause it’s just another day for you,
You and me in paradise, think about it

It wasn’t just the news media and the musicians whose hearts were swollen with concern for the homeless back in the 1980s, even a sitcom like the Golden Girls devoted an episode to the folks in a homeless shelter, complete with a dialog-free three-minute-long video montage as a singer crooned, “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” Now that was from the heart, how often do you see a sitcom breakout with a three-minute video montage?

And then Clinton was elected president and suddenly, I guess the homeless must have magically disappeared, because in Hollywood and all across the news media, the plight of the homeless was no longer even mentioned.

So now we see that homelessness is on the rise again, but outside of a brief mention flashed across the Reuters’ wire, somehow the rest of the news media doesn’t find it even worth a mention. Not as long as ABC-NBC-CBS-PBS-NPR-CNN-MSNBC have their man in the White House.

If you care about the homeless, if you want to raise awareness about the homeless, the solution is simple. Vote Republican in 2016 and watch how quickly the media rediscovers the plight of the homeless in America.

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Currently Listening To:

Team of Rivals
by
Doris Kearns Goodwin