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There is always a large increase in “Help Me” Ads on CraigsList during the Holidays   Leave a comment

…And 7 out of 10 times, they are legit.

What I find most concerning is the cynicism and pessemism from people who have nothing better to do than judge people who turn to CraigsList as a last resort for help. On the one hand yes, there are the same scammers and botters based overseas who have been prowling CraigsList for years. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of people who use the site in general do use it as intended.

All that said, CraigsList is NOT a good website to turn to as a “Last Resort”. The reasons are five:

 

  1. It’s a wating game: One of the biggest myths people have about CL is if they post an ad, they will get a response very quickly. The reality is more often than not, you wasted your time posting the ad. Those who do get help are rhe exceptions and not the norm.
  2. Your ad will be flagged: “eople with absolutely nothing better to do with their time routinely flag ads they consider “Cyber Panhandling” or “Cyber Begging”.
  3. People will contact you just to judge you: More so if you’re a single mother/pregnant (“Where’s the father?”), unemployed (“Why don’t you get a job?”) or have pets (“Give up your cat/dog, then we’ll talk.”).
  4. If you’re a woman, expect to get solicited for Sex: Yes, there are guys that depraved that they will contact you looking for sex or a relationship and promise nothing in return.
  5. Scammers and Bots: Goes without saying. They are everywhere. You respond and then they say something to the effect of “Send me the deposit and I’ll mail you the key” or “Are you real? Email this email to prove you’re real”. This is to say nothing of those who didn’t get the memo the Personals section has been gone for 8 months now.

 

…These just scratch the surface and only barely. With CraigsList Personals gone, the lion’s share of “Help Me” Ads are posted in the Community (“Need Money/Items/Food or a Ride ASAP”.), For Sale (“Need Money/Items/Food ASAP”.), Resume (“Need a job or work ASAP”.) and Housing (“Need a Room/Apartment ASAP”.) Categories.

For those who still intend to try their luck looking for help on CraigsList, here are some general tips that should help:

 

  1. Keep the “Background Story” to a minimum: This is easily the biggest problem. Too many focus on explaining their situation and what led to them posting the ad but not enough time explaining what exactly they are looking for help with. Explain enough for folks to get an idea of your situation but no more than necessary. Save the details for after you make contact with someone.
  2. When looking for Housing, focus more on explaining what you are looking for: More so if you need to move ASAP. When I help folks with their housing search, I need 3 kinds of information: The max in monthly rent they can afford (For example $900), how many bedrooms and where (city, town, etc.) they are looking to live. Extra info that can help is if you’re on Section 8, have references or have the money to make a deposit right now. Leave out your background or family situation from the ad. Why? Because more often than not it will turn someone off from reaching out to you. Property Owners/Landlords only care about the other stuff I mentioned. If they’re not seeing much data in that regard, you wasted your time posting the ad.
  3. More often than not, insisting on keeping your pet will keep you from getting Housing: This isn’t a shot at pet owners or animal lovers but it is the reality and is not negotiable. It doesn’t matter if the landlord lives on the property and has pets themselves. They have the right to refuse you an apartment or room if you’re looking to bring a pet with you. No, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Service Animal either. If you don’t want to part with your pet, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a property owner willing to accomodate your pet.
  4. When looking for a Ride ASAP, include a phone number: No one’s going to wait for you to get back to them via email. Yes, botters and spammers harvest phone numbers to mass text people. Even so, someone who can help you won’t if they can’t get a way to hold of you as quickly as possible.
  5. If you’re in a relationship or have income, mention it in your Ad: This is to keep those looking for sex or a relationship at bay. 9 out of 10 times, when a woman posts an ad she will get unsolicited requests for sex and in many cases a lewd photo sent to them unprompted. If you mention you have income, you’re far less likely to have your ad flagged by people assuming you’re looking for a handout in general. If you mention you’re married or have a boyfriend/fiance, you’re far less likely to get unsolicited requests for sex or lewd photos in general.
  6. When selling, use pics of the actual item(s) not Amazon screenshots: Buyers get it, you want to prove the item is real and you’re selling it for less than retail value. At the same time, Buyers still need to see what condition the item(s) you’re selling is in. They can’t get that from an Amazon product page screenshot.
  7. When looking for work, include past work experience and what you’re looking to do: I cringe every time I see someone basically post “I’m looking for work, any kind of work please contact me ASAP”, then wonder why they only get Housing Ad Spammers or Sex Addicts contacting them. Include past work experience and/or skills you have that potential employers are looking for. Also, keep the “Background Story” to a minimum. Save it for when you actually make contact. Too many folks put everything into explaining their situation but little to none on their work experience and/or skills.
  8. Only post ONE ad per Need: We get it, you’re desperate or your situation is time sensitive. Posting 2 to 5 ads is what the botters do and it’s a fast way to get ALL of your ads flagged. Besides, even if you posted just one if someone decided not to respond then it won’t matter if you posted two or more.
  9. Include a phone number: I know all too well there are spammers and botters who harvest phone numbers posted via CraigsList to mass spam people. The site’s new Capcha (standard anti-scripting measure most high-traffic websites have started using to block bots) has merely slowed the practice but more needs to be done to protect private phone numbers and email addresses. Even so, include a working cell phone number and actually follow up even if just to say you’re not interested.
  10. Set up an Google Account just for CraigsList: You read that right. Why Gmail over Yahoo or Outlook (formerly Hotmail)? Well, most spam accounts use Yahoo mail first of all. Second, It has strong-anti-spam and anti-intrusion measures included for free. Plus you automatically get access to all Google Services for free. If you already have a Google account for personal and/or business use then you will just have two accounts is all. This way, you don’t have to worry about spam making it to your personal/business inbox. The bigger reason is to create an alias to protect your real identity.

 

…I can’t stress those last two enough and more so with the Porn sites, Cam Girls, Escort Services and similar sites that auto-reply to all ads posted to send spam to your inbox. Said emails are riddled with spyware and malware in addition to links to their sites where they hope to get enough info from you to either open a line of credit in your name or hack your account. Be smart and keep your real name off CraigsList.

With phone numbers, all I can say is block numbers that have nothing to do with whatever your ad is about. The spammers often group spam or spoof numbers so all you can do is block numbers individually. I tell folks in all my ads to text or email me because my phone is always on silent or vibrate. I also don’t answer when I see an out of state phone number. The “Text my number only” direction is also an anti-scam check. I know if an out of state number calls, they can’t follow simple directions or didn’t read my ad.

CraigsList is so saturated with scammers, botters and spammers that the “Are you real? Reply to this email to prove it” message is actually a check for other bots that auto-reply to ads or emails. DO NOT respond even if using CraigsList’s Anon-Relay system. All you do is confirm you’re not a bot and they will immediately send spam and other kinds of trash to your inbox. The more you respond, the more you confirm you’re a real person.

In the event you do get a spammer or scammer to email you, the only way to make them stop is to STOP responding to their emails. The reason is even if you block their email, they will simply use another one to keep emailing you. After 2, maybe 3 days max of silence they’ll get the message and leave you be. They DON’T take no for an answer. Ever.

Having said all that, I now want to say something to those who see “Help Me” ads and either judge or assume things: Leave them be.

I have actually talked to many folks who post “Help Me” Ads and I can confirm their needs are 100% real. You don’t need to know their life story (I tell them the same thing) but if you can’t or don’t want to help them, hit Back and keep it moving. Everyone needs help sometimes and as most who post “Help Me” ad mention themselves, they turned to CraigsList as a last resort and out of desperation.

Always assume they tried other things before making an ad on CraigsList and more so given the site’s reputation. GoFundMe campaigns require media attention, a large social media following or a celebrity to have a chance at fundraising. Otherwise you wasted your time making the campaign at all. I’d know. Everyone posting such an ad on CraigsList already feels embarassed. They don’t need you contacting them just to remind them of how pathetic they feel. They already know the real odds of someone actually helping this is slim to none so…yeah.

I’d say if you’re that desperate for help, your best bet is to try Facebook groups. There are neighborhood and city groups on Facebook you can join and safely arrange to meet with people. There are also various neighborhood-based Help Groups you can find fairly quickly. That’s my advice to anyone feeling that desperate anyways.

 

 

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Ok so my laptop died on Thanksgiving Day   Leave a comment

…Yet I’m not entirely devastated. Why? Because I planned for it when I decided to buy my desktop PC the year before buying it. Losing my laptop means I can no longer play Diablo III or World of Warcraft. It also means I’ve lost my primary streaming device for Crunchyroll, WWE Network, Viki, Asian Crush and Xfinity. I decided back in 2013 that I would always have both a laptop and a desktop at the same time at home specifically for situations like this.

In a nutshell, I’ve only lost access to a handful of pictures from my digital camera since I hadn’t backed them up after I put them on my laptop earlier this year. Actually, I’ve lost nothing since the hard drive is fine. If I can get an enclosure or the right cable, I can remove the laptop’s hard drive and recover my files. No rush. In exchange for losing my laptop, I got a Blu Ray Player yesterday. Basically, I am taking steps to mitigate no longer having the use of my laptop.

Is it fixable? Nope, only the hard drive is salvagable and that can wait indefinitely. If anyone is interested in helping me get a new laptop, you can donate money through PayPal. If you’re open to ordering a laptop and having it shipped to me, feel free to let me know also.

That aside, I obviously still have my desktop. Eh…for now anyway. The thing’s a toaster but it’s better than nothing. Man, do I not miss the 2000s when I had to struggle to just turn on my old laptop. I stopped using it for resource-demanding games and it’s not powerful enough to run Guild Wars 2, Civilization V, Destiny 2, World of Warcraft or Diablo III (all of which I have). The CD drive in my dekstop stopped working years ago, too so it’s not good for serious gaming overall. So, I would eventually want to get a more powerful desktop in the future too.

…That said, I have more pressing priorities than buying two new computers. Namely getting stable income first, my own apartment second and going back to college third. This is also why I haven’t been doing alot of blogging for much of the year. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost me anything to keep this blog online.

Thanks, WordPress!

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It’s a shame we had to wait 25 years for the Queen Biopic Bohemian Rhapsody   Leave a comment

Image result for Bohemian Rhapsody

 

…The main reason being the band’s lead vocalist Freddie Mercury is Bisexual. The biopic follows the rise of Queen, their falling out and reunion in time to perform at Live Aid in 1985 does not shy away from “The Controversy”. I had heard rumors there was some difficulty casting the role of Freddie Mercury specifically because of that. Rami Malek, who landed the role did the job well. Mercury’s sexuality had been questioned before and during his time apart from the band and the movie doesn’t shy away from it. There are a few moments in the movie some may find uncomfortable to see or have their kids see (The movie is rated PG-13). I won’t say what they are since those moments should not be focused on.

The real focus should be the movie’s namesake song:

 

Originally released in 1975 on the Album A Night at the Opera, the nearly 6 minute track bombed HARD though the band vehemently defended it and stood by it as their greatest song ever. It wasn’t until its appearance in a certain movie 17 years later the genre-crossing song finally got the long overdue respect it deserved.

…What movie? This one:

 

 

The story goes Mike Myers, who was a huge Queen fan insisted on Bohemian Rhapsody over I’m in Love with my Car, which is on the same Album and was considered a better fit for the sequence. Myers was so insistent on Bohemian Rhapsody he threatened to scrap the entire movie if it was not used. He not only starred in the movie but was also the Executive Producer so…yeah. It’s said Freddie Mercury saw the above scene before he died of AIDS-related Pnemonia in 1992, liked it and gave his blessing for the song to be used in Wayne’s World.

…Bohemian Rhapsody dethroned the stanglehold Michael Jackson had on the top charts for almost 10 years running. This despite the song having been originally released back in 1975.

Anywho, the movie ends with the 1985 Live Aid concert. Billions were raised to help with the severe famines in Africa. Michael Jackson’s iconic single We Are the World (featuring a who’s who of legendary artists including Stevie Wonder and Kenny Rogers) was made around the same time as the concert and if you ask me, there should be one every 5 to 10 years. Freddie Mercury, who knew his time was short pushed for Queen to be included in the concert. He passed away 7 years later in 1992. The surviving members of Queen started an AIDS research group in his honor.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t share this awesome cover from 6 years ago:

 

 

The video went viral at the time but as you can see, it’s a drunk guy singing Bohemian Rhapsody from the back of a police car.

…Then there is this:

 

 

…I know there were people in that crowd who were at Live Aid in 1985. The story goes, Green Day planned to do an instrumental and ran the pre-recorded track first when the crowd started singing. They were so moved, they fired up the band and recorded over the pre-recording.

Queen’s impact crosses generations. Every time the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Briuns won a title I would fire up The Anthem:

You know the song but might not have known where it came from ^_^

On that note:

…You see where I’m going now? Queen is Timeless.

As a bonus, here is their performance from Live Aid 1985 in full:

From the Video’s Description:

00:36 – Bohemian Rhapsody
02:42 – Radio Ga Ga
06:53 – Ay Oh!
07:34 – Hammer To Fall
12:08 – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
16:03 – We Will Rock You
17:18 – We Are The Champions
21:12 – Is This The World We Created…?

I bolded the ones that made the cut in the movie, in order. They had to cut the other 3 for time presumably. The home release will undoubtedly have the full set plus the original concert as bonus content.

 

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Massachusetts-based Pizza Chain Papa Gino’s Files for Chaper 11 Bankruptcy   Leave a comment

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The news broke a short time ago and a day after the chain’s parent company suddenly closed 53 of their then 150 locations Sunday with no warning to customers or the public. Employees of the effected stores, who were notified they were fired effective immediately at the same time have apparently been promised a final paycheck “soon”. Papa Gino’s Inc., which is the parent company of both Papa Ginos and D’Angelos filed for bankruptcy this morning. All assets, locations and shares for both chains will be sold. It’s not yet clear if any of the remaining 97 Papa Gino’s stores will close or if they will be allowed to run independently.

Papa Gino’s has been a local favorite for decades. I have alot of good memories personally. My favorite Pizza is the Rustic style:

Image result for papa gino's rustic pizza

They add parmesan cheese to the crust, making it flavorful. A shame the chain has filed for bankruptcy. I will have to buy this one more time before they are gone forever.

About my just-launched 9th Blog dedicated to Politics and News   Leave a comment

I just wanted to let folks know I have decided to go ahead and just make a separate blog dedicated to Politics as well as News.

 

As I noted in my first post on the new blog, I will now have a separate blog for all things news and politics. I will still cover sports here though. One matter I wanted to make sure to let folks know is my existing political posts on this blog will NOT be removed. I added them to my new blog though so yes there are two copies of 100 of my posts.

I decided to stop covering politics here because I felt like it deserved its own space and more so after I spent so much of the last two and a half years on just politics. Of the 318 posts and drafts on this blog, 118 of them are on just politics. A full third of the posts to this blog so far are is only on politics so…yeah. Time to give it a separate blog.

I mentioned a earlier this year I plan to have 10 blogs before the end of 2018. Clearly I am going to meet that deadline. I just need to make up my mind and decide what topics blog #10 will cover. In the meantime, I hope those who liked my Political posts will click the above link and subscribe. I will add links in my new blog to some of my other blogs over the weekend as well as a PayPal button as usual. Seriously folks, I would appreciate some financial support ^_^

 

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Bill Cosby, 81 sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison; Classified as a “Dangerous Sexual Predator”   Leave a comment

Image result for Bill Cosby Booking

 

…A damned shame R. Kelly won’t be joining him.

Like I said in this blog post in 2015, the evidence speaks for itself: Bill Cosby was exposed as a rapist who used his celebrity status to silence his victims. In an earlier blog post in 2015 I said I would give him the benefit of the doubt until the facts were known. The victim in this case who took him to court–I am no longer using the word “accuser” with her–had been seeking justice for 30 years. 30 years. Her voice was silenced. Why was she silenced? Mostly because of who her rapist was and how well known he is. No doubt she had friends and family turn on her, nevermind death threats from Cosby fans over the years.

Once the details were finally revealed 3 years ago, I lost all respect for him and so did many of those who defended him. That’s to say nothing of the endorsement deals, TV Show deals and honors Cosby lost as the details came out in court three years ago. His former Cosby co-stars, who vehemently defended him in the past were silent after the trial began 3 years ago. I can only assume they came to the same realization I did: Everyone has secrets.

Here’s another former TV Dad who was revealed to have had an even darker secret:

 

Image result for Stephen Collins 7th Heaven

Stephen Collins, who played Revend Eric Camden on the Family Drama 7th Heaven (11 Seasons, 1996-2007) was revealed to have molested at least 3 girls in 2014. He admitted this during a session with his psychiatrist which his wife recorded. None of his former cast mates had any idea. Sound familiar?

…Of course, the difference with Collins and Cosby is the former admitted guilt while the latter refuses to come clean.

Folks who (still) think he was being targeted for being a successful black man need to understand something: NO ONE is above the law. Most of all someone who was long regarded as qualified to speak on what’s morally right and wrong. Despite his age, his intelligence is without question. He knows what he did was wrong. Cosby’s mistake was believing he would never have to answer for what did before he died.

Had he been paying attention, he would have known Federal and State laws have been changing since the 80s to ensure even if decades pass, no one escapes justice. A crime was committed, he was tried for it and declared guilty. It’s that simple. Too many celebrities really (still) do believe the laws don’t apply to them because they’re celebrities.

Let’s look at another Black Celebrity: The late Michael Jackson.

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Most folks know of his highly publicized and well-documented second child molestation trial. The first, which took place in the mid-90s was ultimately settled out of court. The second, which took place 14 years ago ended in a full acquittal. Despite the lack of concrete evidence implicating Michael Jackson of any wrongdoing, the legendary King of Pop’s reputation and credability was shot to hell. Much of it comes from comments he made during an interview–which was used as evidence in his second trial–in which he stated he would allow young boys who stayed at his Neverland Ranch to sleep in his bed with him.

After the second trial, obviously he swore off doing anything like that again because he knew how close he came to spending the rest of his life in prison: The parent of a child who stayed at the Neverland Ranch came forward with accusations her child had been molested by Michael Jackson. In court, it was revealed the child–the star witness–had no memory of any wrongdoing by him and so the case ended in Not Guilty on all charges.

After the second trial, The King of Pop accepted personal responsabilty even though he obviously didn’t understand at first how serious the charges against him were. A common sense no-no to you and me but folks need to keep in mind Michael Jackson (and his brothers) did not have a normal upbringing. In fact, his upbringing made him estranged from his father up until he died. He would later recount wanting to just be a normal kid but couldn’t because he was always traveling and rehearsing from a very young age.

Image result for bill cosby booking
Getting back to Cosby now.

More than likely, he will die in prison. He’s getting 3 to 10 years and has health problems including blindness. If he lives through his sentence, he will be 84 or 91 years old. Noticably absent at his sentencing was his wide Camille. She knows she probably won’t see him alive again so…yeah.

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CraigsList’s decision to adopt a Pay to Use model prettymuch killed the site   Leave a comment

Image result for CraigsList

On the one hand, CraigsList has had a problem with criminals and scammers using the site to find their victims for some time. On the other hand, prettymuch punishing the vast majority of people who use the site as intended sends the wrong message. In the aftermath of Congress forcing the site to remove its Personal Section earlier this year, the site now charges per ad to post anywhere but the Community, Resume, Housing/Rent and For Sale sections.

 

  • Want to post a “We’re Hiring!” Ad? It’ll cost you $45 per ad (Jobs). Why such a large posting fee? Apparently, in years’ past scammers and criminals would post ads soliciting sketchy or illegal activities. That’s why the fee is so high. The only people who post ads in this section now are actual companies that don’t bat an eye at $45 and spammers.
  • Want to advertise a Service? That will cost you $7. This change was recently done because of scammers’ bait and switch tactics: What the ad says and what they actually offer end up being two different things. You would also have the usual overt sketchy stuff posted. The only ads posted now are all ironically spammers. All the change did was stop regular people from posting.
  • Want to advertise a short-term or one-time paid project or Gig? It’ll cost you $5. This change was recently done for the same reason as above as well as people with clearly sketchy intentions posting ads. The only ads posted now are all ironically spammers. All the change did was stop regular people from posting.
  • Ads advertising Massages or Therapeutic services can no longer be posted and this change was done shortly after the Personals Section was removed. Before that, it would cost you $45 to post ads of that kind in Gigs and Services. That ended up being pointless since a workaround was simply posting in the Personals section. The fee was thrown in about 12 years ago because rapists and prostitutes would post ads to entice their victims or clients. Again, bait and switch.

 

Most folks already understand this but The CraigsList Act passed by Congress earlier this year removed the site’s immunity from lawsuits due to third parties using the site to commit crimes. The site hid behind that immunity and prettymuch forced Congress to do something with every headline involving a criminal enticing their victim via CraigsList.

The fact that the site immediately removed its Personals section within hours of the law being passed spoke volumes: They wouldn’t have otherwise and prettymuch told users to blame Congress for it being gone. Two of the sub-sections–Missed Connections and Rant & Rave–were moved to the Community Section. Missed Connections is for folks to reconnect with someone they met via CraigsList but lost touch with. Rant & Rave is basically a place for people to say whatever they want about whatever they want no matter how offensive it may be.

The other Personals sections were removed completely, first in the U.S. and then worldwide a few weeks later to prevent U.S. users from posting Personal ads elsewhere as a workaround. Personally, I think they should have also kept Strictly Platonic and could have created a new Social Category for that. A category for folks to find other folks to do stuff with. Of course, I am well aware botters and scammers prettymuch took over all of the Personals sections by the time they were removed.

Speaking of, some of those same scammers and botters from Casual Encounters are testing their luck by posting bait & switch ads in the Community, Housing and Resume sections. Not in large numbers but they do have a presence. I am concerned given the Community section is a mixed use area and is meant to be exclusively used by and for locals only.

…It would be fair to say CraigsList as it was once known is now dead.

The overwhelming majority of ads posted are botters, out of area dealers and the usual commercial spam. There are ads posted by regular people but they have no chance against the botters and spammers who have taken over all sections long before Personals was removed. Signs point to the rest of the site being locked behind a pay wall sooner or later. A real shame at the end of the day.

 

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