Monday, January 30, 2012

A Nigerian Rental Scam?

Oh, look! Interesting material for a skepticism post!

While I can’t say that I’m surprised, this is a scam that I had not previously heard about. Some friends of mine recently bought a house. While they were doing some remodeling one day, they got a peculiar visit.

While we were working at the new house today a couple showed up asking about renting it. When we said it's not for rent they asked, "why do you have it listed on Craigslist?" We looked. It is, including a picture and accurate description of the house. The cops told us that this is a popular new scam. People are pretending to rent houses they don't own and collecting deposits.

I’m curious where the scammer got the picture of their house. Perhaps the scammers are cruising real estate listings for likely targets; those would have pictures and other information about the house for use in fake ads, and some of them – at least – won’t actually have anyone living there to warn the marks.

V sent an email to the address provided on Craigslist to see if she would get a reply from the scammer. It actually didn’t take long for this reply to come:

"we were transferred to West Africa and we will be away for 5 years or more and this is why we are actually renting out the house,so if you are interested and will take good care of our house then we will be ready to accept you as our future tenant and family friend. If you really impress me by taking good care of our house then you will be allowed to stay as long as you wish okay."

V looked up the phone number provided: it’s literally a Nigerian number. Way to boost the national stereotype, dude! In the response, the scammer also asked for a litany of personal information and a $500 deposit, so this one qualifies for both advance fee fraud and identity theft.

So, if you’re looking for rental property on Craigslist or some other open sales site, you should be a little bit wary. Certainly don’t go giving away your social security number or a big deposit to someone in a distant country who you’ve never seen (and never will).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Zoo Run Run

On Saturday, I completed a 5K run around the Nashville Zoo in a little under 38 minutes. My goal was 36, so I'm a little disappointed.

Also, running in 37-degree weather SUCKS. Why couldn't it have been up in the 50s, like it was on Friday and Sunday?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More ZombieFit

We did the ZombieFit workout of the day for 1/16 this morning. Including warm-up, that includes:
  • Running 1/4 mile
  • 75 push-ups
  • 75 squats
  • 45 crunches
  • 45 burpees (oh, how I loathe the burpees!)
  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 300 meters of sprints (which is guesstimated at three laps around the gym)
And because we're gluttons for punishment, we also did 45 pull-ups and 10-15 meters of "kong walk".

Zoo Run for me on Saturday. Come on out! Share my pain!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Politics: Healthcare

Given what the Republican candidates have been saying about “Obamacare”, I figure now is as good a time to vent some ideas regarding how Americans, as a society, view health care and how the costs should be paid.

On one hand – we’ll call it the right hand – you have the conservative/libertarian notion that paying for health care is an “individual responsibility”. This is the “private sector” system where people with health issues (be they diseases or injuries) pay the provider (doctor, nurse, hospital, clinic, or whatever) for whatever they need to make them healthy, or at least keep them going.

On the other hand – which we’ll call the left – you have the liberal/socialist notion that health care is a right, and everyone (via taxation) pays into a national system that provides everyone with the health care services that they require.

Those are the extremes, of course. What we have now is somewhere in between, as purchasing insurance is something of a compromise between the right hand and the left hand. We’re not completely averse to a “socialized” medical system. After all, a health insurance company can only charge a “reasonable” premium if there are plenty of healthy people on the rolls paying premiums without getting many medical services. They need to have lots of people who are paying more than they cost in health expenses to cover those who are paying less than they cost, especially if they want to make a profit. That’s why insurance companies lobbied for that clause in “Obamacare” that requires everyone to buy some kind of health insurance.

But I want to consider another way of looking at healthcare. Just for a moment, let’s look at health care the way we look at police protection and fire protection.

If you look at them from the “right hand” perspective, then police protection is a service that has a cost, as is fire protection. If you call 911 to get a response to a burglary or a fire, the dispatcher will ask you how you plan to pay for the police car or fire truck that will be sent to your home. In the extreme-right scenario, they won’t come at all unless you assure them that you can and will pay them.

From the “left hand” perspective, the police department and fire department are government services, and the salaries of the officers and the costs of their equipment are paid for by everyone’s taxes. Surprisingly, that sounds an awful lot like what us capitalists already expect.

If you look at health care the same way, then doctors are government employees with salaries (good ones, I should think, given the many years of education they need), and the machines, hospitals, medicines, and so forth are government expenses paid for by taxes. Sounds terrible!

Except for the fact that no one has to pay insurance premiums or copays or doctor bills.

“But health care under a single-payer system will be inferior and rationed!”

I guess that depends on whether we’re all willing to pay enough into the system to still have top-level health care.

I expect to get lots of feedback on why both scenarios suck, but I bet that most of it will be conservative/libertarian “why socialized medicine sucks” posts. It will be interesting to see if they have objections that I haven’t considered.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Two Miles in 22 Minutes

Surprisingly, the fact that I haven't actually gone on a two mile run in over a month has not drastically reduced my time.

Monday, January 09, 2012

ZombieFit Morning

Did the ZombieFit Workout of the Day for 1/7/2012 this morning. After the warm-up (which I did slightly wrong, I only ran the 100m sprint once instead of all three times), I did the main workout at the "avancée" level: 100 push-ups, 140 air squats, 180 jumping jacks -- broken out into 20 sets.

Not feeling as worn out as I expected, even throwing in 20 crunches onto the end of each cycle for the last three. Maybe I should have done the "traceur" level routine.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Dollar Coins

This may be old news, but the issue of the Presidential dollar coins that are piling up in government warehouses just keeps bugging me, so I'm finally going to clear the air on it.

The government keeps trying over and over again to introduce dollar coins into the currency system, the reason being that the useful life of a coin is vastly longer than the useful life of a paper bill, so changing from paper dollars to coins would be a long term savings for the treasury department.

The problem is that coins are different. People don't really like changing the way they do things, so there is inevitable resistance. The Susan B. Anthony dollar didn't see widespread use, nor the Sacajawea dollar, nor the Presidential dollar coins.

And the reason that these coins aren't catching on is simple. The idiots in the government keep printing paper dollar bills. Get a clue, guys! If you want to make a switch from bills to coins, make the switch. Stop printing the bills and start taking them out of circulation. People will adapt, even if they're resistant at first.

Of course, I happen to like the things, so no one will appreciate my opinion.