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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
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Percentage of British citizens who say that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom:
In the United Kingdom, a penis-shaped Kentish strawberry was not made by snails.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”