Monthly Archives: November 2014

On Advent, John Mason Neale, and a winter hymn

The first O come, O come Emmanuel published with the first line by which the hymn is known today was published in 1861, in the first Hymns ancient and modern. The two pages shown here are copies of pages from the Open Library electronic edition for the first edition “of the the most popular of all English hymnals.”

The first O come, O come Emmanuel published with the first line by which the hymn is known today was published in 1861, in the first Hymns ancient and modern. The two pages shown here are copies of pages from the Open Library electronic edition for the first edition “of the the most popular of all English hymnals.”

 The period Christians call Advent begins Sunday November 30. In countries with Christian populations pop music increasingly gives way to religious hymns, leading up to Christmas. Michael Sasges gave thought to one of the season’s most evocative pieces, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Here’s an excerpt of his story about  John Mason Neale — On reading and writing our winters away:

This is a “begat” story, its subjects a winter hymn and its creator, a man who passed his adult years in that figurative winter that is the lot of the chronically ill and perpetually defiant.

The hymn is O come, O come, Emmanuel, in Latin Veni, Veni, Emmanuel. It is a winter song because it is only, or mostly, performed and heard by the Christian faithful during that part of the liturgical year they call Advent. 

The last Sunday of November or the first Sunday of December is inevitably the first Sunday of Advent. This year, 2014, the first Sunday of Advent is the last Sunday of November.

Emmanuel is an expression of longing, spiritual longing. If there be an equivalent expression of material longing, it might be Walt Whitman’s Soon Shall the Winter’s Foil be Here.

The man who nominated O come, O come, Emmanuel for inclusion in the English-language hymnology was John Mason Neale (1818 – 1866).

He was a “divine and author,” in the words of a 19th century Dictionary of National Biography, or “Church of England clergyman and author,” in the words of the DNB Internet edition. … continue reading (no charge*).

 

*Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, Facts and Opinions performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes. We appreciate and need your support: please click here to purchase a $1 day pass, or subscribe.   Sign up using the form on the right side of our Frontlines blog to receive posts by email. Contact us at Editor AT factsandopinions.com.

 

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , , , , |

One Zimbabwe success story

First Street in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Gary Bembridge, Creative Commons

First Street in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Gary Bembridge, Creative Commons

In great contrast to the Borgia world of Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe — the subject of last week’s column by International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe  — is the skill, imagination, talent, determination and sheer hard work that ordinary Africans have to employ to survive and succeed.  Manthorpe offers a tale, One man’s thrust for survival in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Excerpt:

It was mid-December, the height of yet another summer of drought in Zimbabwe, and I was making the early morning coffee when there was a loud cracking and wrenching noise from the garden.

It was a noise I’d never heard before, so loud and tortured it was clear something momentous had happened outside. I walked through the house to the French doors and out on to the tiled patio, the terra cotta red of the African earth. It was an extraordinary sight. The trunk of massive, old Albizia tree down by what passed for a swimming pool had split in half down its whole length. The Albizia is known as the “flat crown tree” because its branches spread wide and grow up to an almost equal height, making it one of the most popular shade trees in Africa, for humans and wildlife alike. For this one, however, the weight of its spreading branches had suddenly become too much for the trunk to bear and it had wrenched itself apart.

Nefius, our gardener who lived in a three-room shamva at the top of the garden, and Phillip, our overnight security guard, who was just about to set off on his two-hour bicycle ride home, were already examining the wreckage and laughing loudly. And indeed, there was a comic, burlesque quality to the dramatic way the tree had suddenly decided to give up the ghost. But it was also very inconvenient. My family and I were due to fly out of Zimbabwe that night on our annual three-week leave. The wood from the tree would be an excellent stock of fuel for the fireplace in the house — very necessary in the chilly winters at Harare’s high altitude – for Nefius to use for cooking and for our brais – the southern African word for barbecues. But this was clearly too big a job for Nefius alone with just our bow saw and axe for tools. Phillip volunteered to help Nefius cut up and stack our windfall if he could have some of the wood. … log in to read more (paywall*)

Click here for Jonathan Manthorpe’s columnist page or here to purchase a $1 day pass or subscription.

*You’ll find lots of great free stories inside our site, but much of our original work is behind a paywall — we do not sell advertising, and reader payments are essential for us to continue our work. Journalism to has value, and we need and appreciate your support (a day pass is $1 and a monthly subscription is less than a cup of coffee). 

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , , |

Vera Lynn: “It was simply my duty to keep on singing.”

Vera Lynn singing for workers in a UK munitions factory in 1941. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London.

Vera Lynn singing for workers in a UK munitions factory in 1941. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London.

Vera Lynn achieved international fame with the songs she made popular on the radio during the Second World War. Arts columnist Brian Brennan reports in his new time capsule piece that she wanted to try other kinds of music after the war. But the fans wouldn’t hear of it. An excerpt of Brennan’s Brief Encounters column, There’ll Always Be An England: Vera Lynn:

For thousands of Allied soldiers who served in the Second World War, Vera Lynn was the most popular singer on the radio. No matter that Bing Crosby and Judy Garland sold more records. Lynn was the troops’ favourite because, as one wounded soldier said at the time, “She makes you think of your wife, not of her.”

When I interviewed her in 1983, this beloved Sweetheart of the Forces was 66 years old, still singing the old wartime favourites, and still making old soldiers think fondly of their wartime brides. She was in Calgary to perform the first major concert at the Saddledome, a hockey arena built both for the 1988 Winter Olympics and as a new home rink for the NHL’s Calgary Flames.

“At school they thought I had a terrible voice,” Lynn told me. “But they always put me up in front because I opened my mouth so nice and wide.” Encouraged by her father, a London plumber, and her mother, a dressmaker, she gave her first public performances in working men’s clubs at age seven. … log in to read There’ll Always Be An England: Vera Lynn (paywall*)

*You’ll find lots of great free stories on our pages, but much of our original work is behind a paywall — we do not sell advertising. We do need and appreciate your support – a day pass is a buck and a monthly subscription costs less than a cup of coffee.

Here is Brian Brennan’s columnist page;  here is F&O’s page to purchase a subscription or $1 site day pass

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , , , , |

Black-and-Blues Friday

"Buy More Stuff! Confuse Everyone!" People hold signs designed to confuse Black Friday shoppers in Seattle. Photo by John Anderson via Flickr, Creative Commons

“Buy More Stuff! Confuse Everyone!” People hold signs designed to confuse Black Friday shoppers in Seattle. Photo by John Anderson via Flickr, Creative Commons

It seems that “Gray Thursday” is the new name for the fourth Thursday of November each year in the United States.

The name marks the re-purposing of a traditional event — from a communal giving of thanks, to shopping. Shopping for sale items is well on its way to supplanting America’s traditional harvest festival, and Gray Thursday (the day formerly known as Thanksgiving Day) is increasingly recognized as the precursor of Black Friday.

Black Friday, of course, has for the past decade or so been the most busy day of the year for U.S. retailers.

This year, instead of  waiting to open their doors early on Friday to a rush of people sated by feasting a day earlier, many businesses apparently decided to designate the food-and-family ritual thing as a gray area. 

“Best Buy, J. C. Penney and Toys “R” Us opened at 5 p.m., with Target and Macy’s in close pursuit at 6 p.m.,” reported the New York Times. The afternoon timing of those stores allowed shoppers to gobble down a Thanksgiving lunch, at least. But some businesses axed even lunch: Kmart opened this year in the U.S. at 6 a.m. Thursday — perhaps betting that enough people would rather shop than cook and dine with relatives.

Luckily, even the most devoted families and foodies can partake, after their traditional rituals, of seasonal sales, on “Cyber Monday” on the Internet. And even that day has begun to morph, into “Cyber Week.” Said Consumer Reports after last year’s season: “Several of the retailers—including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart — seem to have abandoned Cyber Monday in favor of a full Cyber Week event.”

There is no word on when Gray and Black days and Cyber Weeks will spread into the days still known as Saint Nicholas’s (Dec. 6);  the Buddist Bodhi Day (Dec. 8); the Hindu Pancha Ganapati  (Dec. 21 – 25); Solstice (on about Dec. 21); Christmas (Dec. 25); Kwanzaa (Dec. 26), and the peripatetic Hannukah and Chinese New Year. 

As you contemplate the colour of your day, enjoy Tom Regan*’s response to the shopping frenzy, which made him resort to poetry. Here’s the start of  ‘Twas the Night Before Black Friday:

Tom Regan

Tom Regan

Twas the night before Black Friday, and all through the house

Every creature was stirring, yes even the mouse;

The credit cards were ready for use here and there,

In the hopes that a bargain soon would be theirs … continue reading

Tom Regan* is the author of F&O‘s Summoning Orenda column.

 

 

Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, Facts and Opinions performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes. We appreciate and need your support: please click here to purchase a $1 day pass, or subscribe.   Sign up in the form to the right, on our blog, to receive a free email subscription to blog posts and notices of new work. Contact us at Editor AT factsandopinions.com.

 

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , , , , , , , |

On Ferguson, Darren Wilson, and Michael Brown

Darren Wilson, photographed in a medical office after shooting dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo released by the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office photo

Darren Wilson, photographed in a medical office after shooting dead Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo released by the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office

Ferguson, Missouri, burst into flames after a grand jury found no cause to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 9. Some 700 National Guard troops were immediately summoned, with 2,200 reinforcements added Tuesday, to quell rioting.

But the story of Ferguson is deceptively simple, and beguiling: a tale of authorities versus delinquents, blacks versus whites. devils versus angels. Here is my column on the case, Ferguson’s Damned Details.

 

Here is a select list of journalism collations and original documents about the story:

 Overview:

 The Marshall Project:  Collated news and opinion items about Ferguson
Moyers and Company: What We’re Reading About Ferguson
U.S. and international reporting on Ferguson by the New York Times;  BBC; France 24;  South China Morning Post; and Russian Television (RT.com) 

Original sources:

A Guide to the Facts and Issues  and Evidence released from the Grand Jury, collated by St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s press stream, of videos and news releases
 

What next?

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon in October announced a Ferguson Commission, tasked to:

  • “Conduct a thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions underscored by the unrest in the wake of the death of Michael Brown; 
  • “Second, to tap the expertise needed to address the concerns identified by the Commission – from poverty and education, to governance and law enforcement; 
  • “And third, to offer specific recommendations for making this region a stronger, fairer place for everyone to live.”

Related works in F&O’s archives:

Deadly Force in Black and White America. By Ryan Gabrielson, Ryann Grochowski Jones and Eric Sagara, ProPublica

An analysis of statistics supports what has been an article of faith in the United States’ African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population. Young American black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.  

Michael Brown, Ferguson and the nature of unrest. By Garrett Albert Duncan, The Conversation

Many Americans share president Barack Obama’s sentiment regarding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This is clearly indicated in the deeply felt hurt experienced by so many and the massive swell of moral support people of all backgrounds offered to the young man’s parents in recent days. But to suggest that all, or even most, Americans feel the same would be severely misleading.

Six Days in Ferguson: Voices from the Protests. By Lois Beckett, ProPublica

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 9, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown. The killing sparked immediate protests in Ferguson which was followed by a heavily militarized police response that drew national condemnation. Here is a day-by-day chronology of what happened in Ferguson, drawn from the best reporting by journalists and witnesses on the ground.

 

 

Michael Brown at his high school graduation, shortly before he was killed. Photo from St. Louis Public Radio

Michael Brown at his high school graduation,  earlier this year. Photo from St. Louis Public Radio

 

 

Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, Facts and Opinions performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes. We appreciate and need your support: please click here to purchase a $1 day pass, or subscribe.   Sign up in the form to the right, on our blog, to receive a free email subscription to blog posts and notices of new work. Contact us at Editor AT factsandopinions.com.

 

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Welcome Aboard

 

Facts and Opinions warmly welcomes two new journalists aboard our adventure: Tom Regan, on the eastern seaboard of the United States, and Michael Sasges, on Canada’s West Coast.

 

Michael Sasges and grandson

Michael Sasges and grandson

Michael Sasges is F&O’s new copy editor. He also contributes occasional Verbatim and other reports, and essays. A retired Canadian newspaperman, Mike Sasges reads and writes in Vancouver and in one of its high-country hinterlands, the Nicola Valley in British Columbia. He holds a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and is a director of Nicola Valley Museum, an affiliation that has motivated him to research and write about the men from the valley who died during the First World War. Here are some of his latest works:

‘JACK’ and ELEANOR NASH: Hastily wed, quickly separated in 1914: the tale of middle-aged bachelor who got married on his way to the Great War.

When going to work is a remarkable event: a photo-collage of the day One World Trade Center opened, rising out of the ashes of 9/11.

Verbatim: Bombing to lose; air attacks bolster insurgents: An American academic reviewed almost 23,000 United States Air Force sorties over Afghanistan, and concludes that aerial attacks and shows of force are a poor counter-insurgency tool.

 

Tom Regan is the author of  Summoning Orenda, a new F&O column named for the Huron word orenda, representing the power of human will to change the world around us, and an opposing force to fate or destiny. Tom Regan, who is based in the eastern U.S., has worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board in Canada, and for the Christian Science MonitorNational Public Radio, and Boston Globe in the United States. He is the former executive director of the Online News Association, and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1991-92. Here are his latest columns:

On being a feminist

Tom Regan

Tom Regan

What’s in a word? A movement? A state of being? A political statement? A controversy? All the above? Feminism would seem to be one of those words that fits all of the above categories, for a variety of reasons. Try to define who or what a feminist is and you invite instant debate. Is Camille Paglia a feminist? Not like Gloria Steinem is, that’s for sure. Is someone like Laura Bush a feminist? She might not necessarily describe herself as one but many of her words and actions would certainly move her into that category.  Can a man call himself a feminist? Or is it a word that is gender specific?

Tide turning against climate change deniers

In his book The Believing Brain author Michael Shermer, the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, makes the following proposal: belief comes first, then the reasons for belief comes second. So to use an example, an individual might believe in ghosts, so she will then find the reasons to support that belief. That cold spot in the attic is not caused by a deficiency of heat from the furnace, but by the presence of a supernatural being.  This is also the way the world of climate change deniers work. First comes the belief that climate change does not exist, second comes the search for reasons to support that belief.

Welcome, Mike and Tom. It’s terrific to have you join us.

 

Elsewhere on Facts and Opinions this week, don’t miss new columns by International Affairs specialist Jonathan Manthorpe, writing on The Rise of “Gucci Grace,” Zimbabwe’s “First Shopper”and the second instalment of Jim McNiven’s series on the Global Implications of Oil Price Renormalization, The nasties and pleasantries of the decline in oil prices. Arts columnist Brian Brennan‘s latest “Time Capsule” is The Media-shy Satirist: Tom Lehrer. Also in Arts, read the transcript and watch a video of American author Ursula K. Le Guin’s cri de coeur in her acceptance speech for the U.S. National Book Foundation Distinguished Award winner : “hard times are coming,” she warns, and writers will be needed who offer hope and freedom.”

 

 

Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, Facts and Opinions performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes. We appreciate and need your support: please click here to purchase a $1 day pass, or subscribe.   Sign up in the form to the right, on our blog, to receive a free email subscription to blog posts and notices of new work. Contact us at Editor AT factsandopinions.com.

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Manthorpe on Gucci Grace, Zimbabwe’s “most reviled and hated woman”

Robert and Grace Mugabe. Photo by Dandjk Roberts via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Robert and Grace Mugabe. Photo by Dandjk Roberts via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

In 1996, the year Robert Mugabe married Grace Goreraza, life for the majority of Zimbabweans was probably the best it ever had been, or was to be since, writes International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. Many give credit for country’s good times to Mugabe’s late wife Sally. Since then, the country has been in free fall. “Grace has a lust for power and wealth almost beyond the country’s power to provide for her passions. Grace has become the most reviled and hated woman in Zimbabwe,” he writes. Excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column,  The Rise of “Gucci Grace,” Zimbabwe’s “First Shopper”:

Sally Mugabe was much loved in Zimbabwe and many believed, with some justice, that it was only her steadying hand that stopped her husband, President Robert Mugabe, from becoming the feral tyrant that emerged after her death.

In the months before her death in January, 1992, it was widely known in Harare that she would soon be taken by the liver disease from which she had suffered for several years. It was also known that the President had not waited to become a widower before seeking comfort elsewhere. At least three years before Sally’s death Mugabe had taken one of his secretaries, Grace Goreraza, as his mistress. More than that, he had two children by Grace. A daughter, Bona, named for the President’s Mother, was born around 1989, and a boy, Robert Jr, was born a few months after Sally died.

The story circulating in Zimbabwe at the time, and widely believed, illustrates the esteem in which Sally Mugabe was held, but it also attempted to save Robert Mugabe’s reputation. Sally Hayfron was a Ghanaian studying at a teacher’s college in what was then Southern Rhodesia where she met Robert Mugabe. They married in 1961 and the couple had a son, Michael, in 1963. But Sally and Robert were both deeply involved in the fight against the white minority government in Rhodesia. They lived lives on the run or in detention or prison. The boy developed a severe case of malaria and died in 1966.

Sally Mugabe was unable to have more children. So, as her death approached in the early 1990s, the story around Harare was that Sally had not been deceived or jilted by her husband. … log in to read  The Rise of “Gucci Grace,” Zimbabwe’s “First Shopper” (paywall*)

Click here for Jonathan Manthorpe’s columnist page or here to purchase a $1 day pass or subscription.

*You’ll find lots of great free stories inside our site, but much of our original work is behind a paywall — we do not sell advertising, and reader payments are essential for us to continue our work. Journalism to has value, and we need and appreciate your support (a day pass is $1 and a monthly subscription is less than a cup of coffee). 

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , , , |

Brennan: Tom Lehrer’s common sense gave him a cult following

Although musical satirist Tom Lehrer had not been active as a performer and recording artist for 15 years when Arts columnist Brian Brennan met him in 1980, he still had a cult following of enthusiasts who fondly remembered his trenchant observations of 1950s’ American life and politics. An excerpt of Brennan’s Brief Encounters column, The Media-shy Satirist: Tom Lehrer:

A photo of Tom Lehrer signed, "To everyone at the Theatre Royal - with thanks and sincere best wishes - Tom Lehrer." Image provided by the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office.

A photo of Tom Lehrer signed, “To everyone at the Theatre Royal – with thanks and sincere best wishes – Tom Lehrer.” Image provided by the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office.

The Associated Press called him the J.D. Salinger of musical satire. Tom Lehrer was a brilliant American songwriter with a sardonic wit who scored big with the college crowd in the 1950s, only to walk away from it all in 1960 when at the height of his fame.

There were rumours for a while that he was dead. Lehrer admitted encouraging them, hoping they would cut down on his junk mail. There were also rumours that he quit show business because Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. Those too were false. Kissinger received the Nobel in 1973, eight years after Lehrer finally stopped performing professionally. But Lehrer did acknowledge telling a reporter once that political satire became obsolete when Kissinger was awarded the Nobel.

The rumours persisted because Lehrer had vanished without a trace. He didn’t do television appearances (“the only thing I would prefer more is to have my eyes gouged out with steel needles”) and he only gave newspaper interviews on the very rare occasions when he had something to promote. … read more (log in first –paywall*)

 

*You’ll find lots of great free stories on our pages, but much of our original work is behind a paywall — we do not sell advertising. We do need and appreciate your support – a day pass is a buck and a monthly subscription costs less than a cup of coffee.

Here is Brian Brennan’s columnist page;  here is F&O’s page to purchase a subscription or $1 site day pass

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

 

Posted in Current Affairs Tagged , |

Ursula K. Le Guin on art and “Freedom”

Ursula K. Le Guin. Photo by Marion Wood Kolisch/National Book Foundation

Ursula K. Le Guin. Photo by Marion Wood Kolisch © 2014, publicity photo from Ursula K. Le Guin site

American author Ursula K. Le Guin on Wednesday slammed the U.S. publishing industry’s “ignorance and greed,” and issued a cri de coeur. She spoke out for artists in a world where “hard times are coming” and writers will be needed to offer hope and freedom, and “see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being.”

Le Guin won this year’s prestigious Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, given by the U.S. National Book Foundation to recognize “individuals who have made an exceptional impact on this country’s literary heritage.”

The award was announced in September, but presented at a gala on Wednesday, and Le Guin’s frank acceptance speech is garnering global attention for its demand for action. “The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art,” she said. “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

… Click here for a transcript and video of her speech: Verbatim: Ursula K. Le Guin’s call to action (no charge*)

 

 

 

 

 

 *You’ll find lots of great free stories inside our site, but much of our original work is behind a paywall — we do not sell advertising, and reader payments are essential for us to continue our work. Journalism to has value, and we need and appreciate your support (a day pass is $1 and a subscription is less than a cup of coffee). 

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

  

 

Posted in Current Affairs, Gyroscope

Vignette: On candour, scams, and shame

Caller with Indian accent, call centre noise in background: “Hello, is this “Mrs. Kennedy?”

Me: who’s calling please? (No “Mrs. Kennedy” lives in my house. It’s a name used almost exclusively by scammers.)

Scammer: “This is Amal calling from the technical department, about your computer Windows.”

Me: “Oh for Pete’s sake, aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” I blurt out. I’d answered in the expectation of  an important call.

Scammer: “Yes, I do feel shame, ma’am. But I am very poor.”

Me: speechless.

Period of silence, so long it’s painful.

Me (quietly): “I’m really sorry, but I can’t help you.”

I hang up.

— Deborah Jones 

Context: 

Aggressive, persistent Windows tech support scammers continue to stalk consumers

By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld

Scammers posing as Microsoft support technicians continue to work the phones in search of victims, the company said last week, and have, in fact, grown bolder in their tactics…

The scams rely on a combination of aggressive sales tactics, lies and half-truths. Cold callers pose as computer support technicians, most often claiming to be from Microsoft, and try to trick victims into believing that their computer is infected, usually by having them look at a Windows log that typically shows scores of harmless or low-level errors. At that point, the sale pitch starts, with the caller trying to convince the consumer or business worker to download software or let the “technician” remotely access the PC. 

The fraudsters charge for their worthless “help” or sell subscriptions to useless services, and sometimes install malware on PCs while they have the machines under their control.

Posted in Gyroscope Tagged , , |