Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Adulterated Bile

One of my favorite jokes applicable to Memogate goes like so:
At a Party rally in Red Square, Stalin announces, "Comrades, I have received a telegram from Trotsky! It reads 'You were right. I was wrong. You are the true heir of Lenin. I should apologize'!" Thunderous cheers erupt, however, a small man in the front row signals Comrade Stalin discreetly. Stalin says, "Yes, Comrade?" "Comrade Stalin, for such a momentous message, perhaps it needs reading with a bit more emotion to properly express the sentiments". Stalin waves his arms for the throng to stop cheering and announces, "Comrades, this fine Soviet citizen believes he should read the telegram to you to express the true importance of this occasion. Come up to the stage, Comrade". The little man ascends to the podium, takes the telegram from Stalin, adjusts his glasses and reads "YOU were RIGHT and I was WRONG?????? YOU are the TRUE heir of Lenin??????? I should apologize?!?!?!?!"

One of my current pet peeves is the increasing move to electronic statements and check images rather than cancelled checks. Apart from wanting to control my own destiny more closely, I rather dislike the thought of a statement disappearing somewhere into the bit bucket, and not popping up in e-mail. That paper statement sitting in the inbox on the desk is a lot more comforting in that I know it's going to bug me until I go ahead and pay the darn bill (which I much prefer to do electronically, incidentally). I'm just a bit squirelly with the thought of needing to produce a cancelled check somewhere outside the quote unquote normal time frame you'd need it (I've gotten dunning bills from doctors from years ago for copays paid by check that their stupid billing clerks never properly recorded, and it's awfully fun to fax the check over with a nastygram on the cover sheet). Having been around banks and financial institutions and seen some of the technology implementations, I can say that sometimes a bit of knowledge is too much for one's own good, as the archiving and HSM systems in a lot of these institutions leave quite a bit to be desired. Let's just say that they are works in progress. The thought of a statement vanishing somewhere into the ether is ordinarily not one of huge concern, however in the case of a company which reports to one of the major credit bureaus, you're not going to get the friendly "Did you forget to send the check?" treatment before you're marked lousy with a credit reporting agency. And if for some reason you do need to clear a black mark with Experian et al, remember that once you get the nice letter from the creditor saying that all is copacetic, it'll still take them at least 90 days until it gets purged (if it does indeed get purged at all). It says an awful lot about mainframe job scheduling and databases, not to mention just how old some of the code that manages this is. And even worse, thanks to Congress, there is no legal recourse against either the creditors or the reporters if there is a foulup. Arrrrgh.....

Spam's up to about 40% on my private e-mail addy over the last couple of weeks. In certain ways I think the KGB did have things right, at least in the case of how to deal with persistent or potentially persistent issues. Start by removing digits, proceed to genitalia, and send the dismembered results to other persons or organizations likely to be persistent issues. The only thing spammers will understand is painful retribution, as undoubtedly they will be counseled or sanctioned by whatever international and local authorities who might deign to take responsibility for such issues. Speaking of which, can someone please bitch slap Kofi Annan? Please. I'll be your best friend....


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