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It didn’t take long. Cunningham had canceled a home alarm service with ADT Security after two months, and the company had billed him a $450 early termination fee, which he disputed. ADT sent his account to Equinox Financial Management Solutions, a third-party debt collector. The collection agency sent him a letter asking that he call back immediately. He dialed, armed with a voice recorder. “Can you garnish my wages if I don’t pay?” he asked. “Yes,” the voice on the other end of the line said. “Can you put a lien on my house?” “Yes.” Wrong answers. Turns out, Texas consumer rights laws are some of the most consumer-friendly in the country. And according to a federal consumer protection law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors are prohibited from threatening legal action that would violate state laws. In this case, garnishing wages or putting a lien on Cunningham’s house would violate the Texas Debt Collection Act. Cunningham knew he had a good enough case to file a lawsuit against the debt collection agency, and for his first lawsuit, he decided to enlist the help of a lawyer. Two months later, he had a check in his hand for $1,000. “It’s like discovering fire,” says Cunningham, thumbing through the stack of lawsuit papers on his table. –“Better Off Deadbeat: Craig Cunningham has a simple solution for getting bill collectors off his back. he sues them.” by Kimberly Thorpe, Dallas Observer (via)
I do not pretend that uploading or downloading unpurchased electronic books is morally correct, but I do think it is more of a grey area than some of your readers may. Perhaps this will change as the Kindle and other e-ink readers make electronic books more convenient, but the Baen Free Library is an interesting experiment that proves that at least in that case, their business was actually enhanced by giving away their product free. That is probably not a business model that will work for everyone, but what it shows is that as a company they have their ear to the ground and are willing to think in new directions and take chances instead of putting their fingers in their ears, closing their eyes, and railing against their customers, as the music industry is doing. The world is changing and business models have to change with it. –“Confessions of a Book Pirate,” C. Max Magee, The Millions
Niches on the internet may have begun that way, but it’s precisely that expectation that the growth of the internet seems to have changed. The things people put on the internet can very easily be interpreted as public speech — global speech — even if they’re not intended that way. (Put a goofy video on YouTube for your friends, and you invite the comment/criticism of the world: “Why are you asking me to watch this?”) And because the web is a totally seamless space, people are far less aware of the specific audience for any given place they wind up; if the content is Not For Them, they’re likely to blame the content. (Start a journal of highbrow lit criticism on the web, and you will likely get called pretentious by people who’d never even notice the thing in a print environment. That opinion will not be “incorrect” or inauthentic, but it will be a kind of feedback you weren’t getting before, and now you’ll have to decide whether it matters.) And because the web puts your material within reach of so many people, it can create the impulse to make the material useful/accessible to as many of them as possible, even if it’s just to avoid the mockery of folks who weren’t in your target market to begin with. –“Internet Paradox,” A Grammar
Chances that a Soviet woman’s first pregnancy will end in abortion:
Peaceful fungus-farming ants are sometimes protected against nomadic raider ants by sedentary invader ants.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."