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Showing posts from December, 2013

THE NSA, METADATA AND OVERSTOCK.COM

Quite a while ago, I bought a titanium ring from overstock.com. You can guess one of the unintended consequences. Everywhere I went on the interweb, ads from overstock.com popped up. I bought a ring once. I'll buy a ring again, won't I? Google will make it easy for me.

I don't live on the interweb but I shop and I communicate with friends there. I have, in other words, surrendered segments of my privacy for convenience sake. Harsh words but they are accurate. Google knows more about me than anyone except my wife and, to be honest, there are things that Google knows about me that my wife doesn't.

It won't be long before face recognition software will scan me when I enter a store. Coupons that are tailored to my shopping history will be sent to my phone. There will be no bothersome lines at cash registers. My phone will be the equivalent of an EZ Pass.  I'll just walk with my purchases past a certain line on the floor and my bank account will be debited on the sp…

EXPAT HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS - PART 2

I tried calling two of the companies on my short list of three that met the requirements for medical coverage, repatriation, and return of mortal remains for a long-stay visa to France, Travelex and FrontierMedEx.

The first time that I called MedEx, the phone rang through with no pickup and no recorded message after the machinery said that it was sending me to an agent. I hung up, tried Travelex, and was put on hold while waiting for an available agent. When the recorded voice informed me that I would be called back if I left my phone number, I did. And Travelex did call back the next day...during a business meeting. It wasn't their fault but I couldn't talk.

I was disappointed that my first two calls went unanswered until I realized that I was calling during the Christmas travel season and a winter storm was rolling through the Midwest to the East Coast, disrupting flights from Chicago to New York. That's probably a good test of the systems at their worst. But OK. I'l…

MANDELA, TWITTER AND THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

With Nelson Mandela's death and the celebrations of his life that ensued around the world, the Twitterverse exploded. The man was a criminal, say the social media trolls. A terrorist. We will not celebrate the life of a man who came to power over the bloody bodies of innocents. And they have their point. The ANC perpetrated violence that at times took lives indiscriminately. Ironically, those same trolls denigrating Mandela on electronic message boards are fond of quoting Jefferson's:The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

If the privileged, slave-holding Jefferson was convinced that the relatively benign British rule over the Colonies was cause for war, and Jefferson certainly knew that war with the British would result in the spilling of innocent blood as well as the blood of patriots and tyrants, then how can we blame Mandela for using every tool in his grasp to end apartheid? 

Commentary in conservative media is much mo…

EXPAT HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS - PART 1

Cathey and I knew from the beginning that health insurance would be a cause for concern as we prepared to move to France. The quality of care is not the question. European healthcare outcomes lead the world. We've had personal experience and we were impressed. But in order to qualify for a long-stay visa, the first step to obtaining the permanent carte de sejourwe will have to present proof at the French embassy in Washington that, among other things, we will not be a burden to the French healthcare system for the entire length of our stay unless and until we qualify for that system.

Medicare benefits do not extend beyond America's shores. We will have to buy private insurance.

The French are relatively clear about the requirements. You need proof to their specifications that you are covered for medical, evacuation and repatriation expenses to the tune of $40,000. You can read more in the health insurance section on the French consular website HERE. The article even names…