images (16)The PopCulteer
April 3, 2015

It’s a shorter than usual PopCulteer this week, as your loyal correspondent has many irons in the fire so that he can bring you more cool stuff in the coming weeks. But we do have a few short items and some stuff you can do.

Phone Scams

There is a pretty disturbing phone scam that’s popped up in our area lately, and I’ve been getting slammed by it. You get a robocall with your name dropped into it that says you are about to be served and charged with fraud.

First of all, it doesn’t work this way. No process server will ever call you in advance and tip you off. That is your first tip-off that this is a criminal operation.

The call goes on to tell you that you need to call (501) 507-0888 to work out the details of your pending lawsuit.

That’s your second clue that this is a scam. They want you to call them so that they can then claim to have made contact with your phone number in a business matter, which gives them a loophole to sell your number to telemarketers.

image (13)These people already have your name, address and some personal information. They’ve aggregated this from public sources which are more easily accessible than ever thanks to the internet. They will use this information to try and make you think that they are legit.

Don’t fall for it.

The best way to deal with these scammers is to ignore them and wait for them to go away. You could also try a call-blocking service like TrapCall, but I have to wonder if these services might be behind some of those annoying calls. What better way to market your service than to create a demand for it?

The reason I’m jokingly paranoid about this is that I can’t understand why these scammers put so much effort into this sort of harrassment. You would think that after finding out that their “mark” is not going to fall for their scam, they’d cut their losses and move on.

phone 00234But they don’t. I’ve probably gotten more than twenty of these calls in the last week between my landline and cell phone. I know that long-distance calling is so cheap now that it barely costs them anything, but why waste their time bothering people who won’t fall for their nonsense?

I’m debt-free, own my home outright and check my credit report on a regular basis. I know that I don’t have any outstanding debts, especially from banks that I’ve never done business with.

In the past I have called for the FCC to mandate that all phone services offer a *86 feature. This would allow you to hit *86 after receiving an unwanted phone call, and permanently block that number from ever calling you again.

The technology exists to do this. If they can offer *89 then they can offer *86. Introducing such a feature (and make it free) would virtually cripple the junk-calling industry overnight. This FCC mandate would have to be paired with a law making it a felony to spoof a caller ID number. Spoofing is when a caller uses software or a device to change the number that shows up on your caller ID.

That shouldn’t even be possible in the first place, since it makes caller ID completely worthless. It should be a crime, and criminal penalties should be extended to any operators working in such a call center. If that forces these criminal operations to work from outside our borders (most do already), then they need to find a way to block entire countries from calling into the US via call centers. It can be done.

These types of calls are not exactly terrorism, but they’re akin to it. It’s a constant annoyance rather than death and destruction, but it still hurts the citizens of our country.

Everybody hates junk calls. Why won’t anybody take action to stop them?

Because regardless of who makes or receives these calls…the phone companies get paid. They have no economic incentive to crack down on these clowns. It’ll cut off one of their revenue streams. That’s why it’s going to take government action to fix this.

Ringo’s New CD

Ringo-Starr-Postcards-from-Paradise-by-Rob-ShanahanRingo Starr has a new album out this week, Postcards from Paradise, and it’s not bad. As with any Ringo solo album from the last quarter-century, it’s got some wistful nostalgia, some great tunes and more up-to-date technology and musicianship than a casual fan might expect from the least-appreciated member of the world’s greatest band.

Postcards from Paradise is the first album mostly filled with songs written by Ringo with members of his All-Star Band. We get songwriting collaborations between Ringo and Dave Stewart, Todd Rundgren, Richard Marx, Steve Lukather plus one song that he wrote with Van Dyke Parks.

The title track, co-written with Rundgren, works a title of a Beatles song into almost every line. It’s fun and bouncy, even if Ringo’s old pal, the late Harry Nilsson, did it better with his version of “You Can’t Do That.”

“Rory and the Hurricanes” looks back even further, to Ringo’s pre-Beatles band. It’s in the same vein as “Liverpool 8,” “The Other Side of Liverpool” and “In Liverpool” from his previous albums, and suggests that, if he were so inclined, Ringo could write a concept album about his days growing up, prior to joining The Beatles.

The rest of the album is good fun for the die-hard Ringo fan. I was a little let-down by the Richard Marx collaborations, but every other track is at least worth a listen or three.

At this point, pushing 75, Ringo has nothing left to prove. That he even bothers to release new music is a bonus for his fans. Postcards from Paradise is a pretty decent bonus.

New Show On VOA

the-real-208x300My buddy, Mark Wolfe, has a new show on New Appalachian Radio. “The Real” made its debut last night and it’s a fun listen. Mark, aided and abetted by my other buddy, Steven Allen Adams, talks about what’s wrong with Charleston, what’s right with Charleston and he even plays a couple of tunes (last night he played Huntington expatriots, now living in Nashville, Coyotes in Boxes and North Carolina’s Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands).

In each week’s half-hour show Mark will also chat with a guest. Last night it was Robert Breedlove, the local magnate of the internet’s Toy Hutt empire. In the coming weeks he’ll talk with Delegate Mike Pushkin and some obscure pop culture columnist that nobody’s ever heard of.

You can hear The Real every Thursday night at 9 PM at New Appalachian Radio, and every Friday the shows will be up in the archives. Show notes can be found HERE.

Stuff To Do

All Weekend and Next

It’s a new musical by Dan Kehde and Mark Scarpelli. That’s pretty much all you need to know to decide to go see it.









That’s it for this week.Check PopCult every day. We’ll be here with fresh content, as always.