Loneliness as an Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic

index sitemap advanced
Loneliness and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loneliness and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Although the COVID-19 pandemic (or Coronavirus, if you prefer) has caused abundant death, the toll in terms of depression and loneliness is even more widespread. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy reffers to it as a “loneliness epidemic.” Spending so much time in isolation wreaks havoc on our emotions. When we do get out, it is increasingly harder to see the person behind the mask; it is essentially dehumanizing. It can cause what has become known as pandemic dreaming.

Our Brains Operate in Two Modes

Matthew Lieberman is a founder of the field of social cognitive neuroscience and he discovered that our brains operate in two distinct modes. He found that one is utilized for engaging with the physical world around us. Looking for shelter when a hurricane is blowing in, for example. The other for is utilized for considering mental states; it views other people in terms of being psychological entities with distinct thoughts and feelings of their own. He used MRI imaging to show that the second mode, what he called the social brain, is actually the default mode. That could explain our some of our current issues with isolation.

We are Wired to Mingle with Our Fellows

Some 2,348 years ago Aristotle told us that man is by nature a social animal. By in large that is true, although introverts are the chemical exception to the rule; they are more governed by a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which warms up as they turn their focus inward. Extroverts, on the other hand, are governed more by their dopamine reward network. This is triggered when external stimuli and sensory input happens. In other words, if you are a party animal or used to spend a lot of time at the office moving through the cubical farm gossiping or being a kvetcher, this lock-down is hurting you more that your more taciturn neighbors.

Social Media is a Poor Substitute for Real Interaction

We have all grown used to social media over the years, texts, emails, Facebook, etc. But are these really good substitutes? Not at all, although talking on the phone and Skyping may be marginally better. In fact, social media may make things worse. Just look at how bad and polarized things were even before the lock-down. Does Donald Trump bashing and BLM and Antifa ring a bell? Too many trolls, so little time.

One study conducted in 2018 of 18 – 30-year-olds concluded that the odds of depression were significantly decreased by face-to-face encounters, but significantly raised by interacting via social media. Yet another study discovered that lowering time spent on social media lowered feelings of loneliness in 18- to 22-year-olds.

According to Primack, using social media may be simply a way of projecting a version of ourselves out there or perhaps they’re fostering real social connections we otherwise wouldn’t be able to have. There is just no way to know at this point.

How Can You Cope with Pandemic Loneliness and Depression?

  • Maintain a Schedule. A consistent routine can make things feel more normal. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, use an alarm clock, lunch at noon, tea and scones in the afternoon if you are a subject of the Queen; you get the idea. If you are sick, try keeping a log to monitor your symptoms.
  • Keep Yourself Informed. Staying up to date on health information and advice on precautionary measures will make you feel more proactive and in control of your situation.
  • Learn lucid dreaming. If you are experiencing pandemic dreams, follow these techniques to learn lucid dreaming. I learned it long ago out of curiosity and I’ve been controlling and actively participating in my nocturnal adventures ever since. It is easier for some than others but well worth the effort.
  • Maintain an active lifestyle as much as possible. The authorities want you to stay indoors as much as possible. But, and then this is only my opinion, you can still get out to walk, bike, or run (if allowed where you live). If you must stay in, you can still do resistance exercises with household objects or get up and walk around. My Garmin 235 watch not only counts my steps but also alerts me when I have been sitting too long.
  • Indulge in some self-improvement. Take an online course. Pick up that instrument, dust it off, and start practicing. New Years resolutions are valid anytime. Myself, I’m learning Irish Gaelic. Ta go maith!
  • Stay connected. Use Skype. Watch a Netflix movie at the same time as one or more friends and critique it as it plays. If you have ever watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 you know what I mean! Write letters. Remember when that was a human function?
  • Cook some new comfort food. Here are some of my recipes. I like to experiment much to the chagrin of my wife.

In short, none of us is immune to loneliness as an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is just good to understand it, accept it, and mitigate it as much as possible.

References:

Looking for more great content? Visit our partner sites:

The Green Frugal

Running Across Texas


As Featured On Ezine Articles

I offer article and blog-writing services. Interested? Hire Me!


Did you find this article helpful? Thanks for supporting this free site with a small donation!

 




Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

9 Essential Programs for Your Computer

index sitemap advanced
Computer software -- binary tunnel
Computer software — binary tunnel

Everything is online now; it’s been growing for years. As technology advances our computers get more powerful and more sophisticated. Bigger, faster, flashier. A couple of the downsides of this inevitable progress are that it presents an open field for online scammers and the fact that one hard drive crash can make years of work and data evaporate.

The good news is that these risks can be mitigated by taking advantage of software that addresses these issues. The ones below, in no particular order, are my personal picks. Disclaimer: I personally use these apps but I am not compensated for the reviews. Too bad, eh?

  1. Password Safe. This app is a very easy to use password manager. It allows you to define your own categories of sites and their related passwords (Development, Media, Shopping, Bills, you get the idea). Create a new entry and Password Safe will generate a secure password for you to use. Highlight a site entry, click the Browse to URL icon and the site will open in your browser with the password on the clipboard, ready to paste. Best of all, this program is open source, so, free. We like free.

2. System Mechanic. This is an overall system maintenance tool. It’s designed to scan your computer and find issues with available memory, internet junk files, Windows junk files, registry issues, security vulnerabilities, and more. Choose to fix all issues found and your computer will speed up. It also has a defragmentation tool and lists unnecessary start-up programs that sloooow you down. As of this writing it costs $24.95/year.

3. CyberGhost VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) makes you virtually invisible on the web. How does it work? In their words, “You send the data at one end and we receive it at the other end, to encrypt and safeguard it from unwanted prying eyes. You are assigned with a new IP address which doesn’t allow you, the original sender, to be identified. We will then send your Internet requests as usual.” The pricing depends on the package you choose; I opted for the 3-year plan.

4. f.lux. This app is designed to fix the problem of your computer monitor screen looking different at night than it does during the day, which can lead to eye strain and sleep problems. From their site, “f.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.” It’s free for personal use.

5. IDrive. This is a cloud back-up app for all your data. Once installed, it will do an initial complete back-up of all the data that you specify. Next, just set a time of day and it will perform an incremental back-up and post a pop-up detailing how many files it backed up and how much total space you have stored. I had a hard drive crash a few years ago and my recovery to my new machine went off without a problem. Prices vary. As of this writing, Basic is free, Personal is $52.12/year, and Business is $74.62/year.

6. Tor. Their site says it all, “Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.” It works by bouncing communication packets around a distributed network of relays that are run by volunteers located all around the world. In doing so, it prevents snoops watching your Internet connection to learn which sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you do land on from learning your physical location. Your computer security is every bit as important as your home security.

7. SUPERAntiSpyware. This app, once installed, scans your files on your hard drive to identify spyware, adware, trojans, ransomware, PUPs, hijackers, and more. Its database is updated on a regular basis (2-4x a day ) in order to keep up with the bad guys. When an update is available it will prompt you to download it. The price? Choose either the free edition or the paid professional edition.

8. CoffeeCup. This isn’t a single app; it is a range of apps that address all things that are web development. I personally use the HTML editor on a daily basis and have for about 10 years. They also offer a Site Designer, a CSS Grid Builder, a Responsive Email Designer, and more. The benefit here is that since all this affordable software is from the same company, all apps play nice together, whether you are just doing a newsletter or a full-blown commerce site.

9. FonePaw iOS Transfer. This app comes in handy if you want to transfer almost anything from your computer to your iPhone without having to delve into the nightmare that is iTunes. Just a couple of clicks will get you what you need. The trial is free; the single-user license is $34.95.

Create iPhone Apps in Minutes.

These are just a few essential programs for your computer addressing security, productivity, and keeping your system healthy. If this info helped you, please share the link with your friends and social media. Thanks for visiting; we’re all in this together!


Looking for more great content? Visit our partner sites:

The Green Frugal

Running Across Texas


As Featured On Ezine Articles

I offer article and blog-writing services. Interested? Hire Me!


Did you find this article helpful? Thanks for supporting this free site with a small donation!

 




Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.


About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Troubled Times for Google

index sitemap advanced
The Google Logo
The Google Logo

Social media sites are the mega-industries of this generation. They are high-tech with more storage and computational power than we could have dreamed of a mere twenty years ago. However, with enormous power comes enormous responsibility. In many cases, these social media powerhouses don’t police themselves and take on arrogant personalities. 

Social Media Data Breaches

Just recently it came to light that Facebook was using user’s personal information for financial gain, specifically to influence political outcomes. CEO Mark Zuckerburg was called on the carpet before Congress where he apologized, but of course his check had been cashed and the damage was done.

But Facebook is not alone when it comes to handling user information. It has recently come to light that Google’s G+ app had left vulnerabilities wide open.  The software glitch gave outside developers possible access to private profile data of thousands of Google+ users.

The fact that this happened is not particularly surprising. I used to be a software developer and it is just a fact that with thousands of lines of code, things slip through no matter how much testing is done. The problem with Google is that they chose to put the hush-hush on the data breach rather than  being up front with users and the media.

Their solution? They plan to shut down G+. It’s a shame because myself, like many others, enjoy the platform. This, despite the fact that it sometimes takes some wading through a sea of anti-Semite activists, antifa thugs, and pornographers.

Irresponsible Employees Given a Pass

This is another example of shameful corporate positions. Just recently,  Dave Hogue,  a design lead at Google, has slammed Republicans in an angry Twitter rant over the nomination of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

His Twitter rant?  “You are finished, @GOP. You polished the final nail for your own coffins. F–K. YOU. ALL. TO. HELL. I hope the last images burned into your slimy, evil, treasonous retinas are millions of women laughing and clapping and celebrating as your souls descend into the flames.” Google’s response?

“What employees say in their personal capacity has no bearing on the way we build or operate our products,” a Google spokeswoman told Fox News, via email. In other words, even a design lead has no moral or personal responsibility to act as an adult and has leeway to post this garbage that is even viewable to children. Great corporate culture, Google. And did he post it on your company computer, on company time? Just hear crickets on that one.

Create iPhone Apps in Minutes.

Protection Against Information Harvesting

Most social media is free to users which is one reason that antitrust regulations have not been brought to bear against them. They profit by profiling users, selling their personal data, and serving up targeted ads. But there are ways users can protect their privacy.

Don’t be completely honest in your profiles. Change your birth date, location, employer, etc. Use the Tor browser to protect yourself from tracking. Use Privacy Badger to block spying ads and invisible trackers.

The point of all this is not to invest in paranoia. The point is that as free citizens we deserve and are entitled to privacy. We are people, not commodities. It is just as important as our home security.


Looking for more great content? Visit our partner sites:

The Green Frugal

Running Across Texas


As Featured On Ezine Articles

I offer article and blog-writing services. Interested? Hire Me!


Did you find this article helpful? Thanks for supporting this free site with a small donation!

 




Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.


Common Grammatical Mistakes Not to Make

index sitemap advanced
Don’t Make Grammar Blunders

There are two types of people; those who regularly make grammatical errors (and sometimes don’t care) and others who pull their hair out when they see them in print. There seems to be an increasing number of errors online. Are there no Yahoo editors or are we being dumbed down? Anyway, we have compiled a list of some common errors, because, as with many other things, we should know the rules before we break them.

This article was updated on 03/04/20 in honor of National Grammar Day.

Capitalize Properly

Almost everyone knows to capitalize proper nouns and adjectives derived from proper nouns, such as the Grand Canyon. However, with the passage of time the requirement is sometimes dropped, such as the evolved word herculean (from the Greek Hercules).

Capitalize brand names but not necessarily the product type itself. For example, Tabasco sauce.  Capitalize days of the week and months of the year–a Sunday in September.

Religions can be tricky. Capitalize the Bible but not biblical. But do not capitalize the words heaven, hell, the devil, or satanic. Extraterrestrial objects are also tricky. The names of planets are capitalized but not the moon or the sun. Confused yet?

Capitalize specific geographical regions. Do not capitalize points of the compass. You might live in the Northwest but specifically in the northwest area of your burg.

Titles are simple yet not exact.  Capitalize the title’s first and last word.  Capitalize all adjectives, adverbs, and nouns.  Do not capitalize a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but, for, yet, so) unless it is first or last in the title. These rules vary so check house rules with your editor.

Who vs Whom

Although it might just seem pretentious to use whom, there is also a good reason. Basically, who is subjective (he, she, it, they, etc.) while whom is objective (her, us, them, etc.). Test your prose.  When in doubt, substitute who with the subjective pronouns he or she, (Who loves you? He loves me. Similarly, you can also substitute “whom” with the objective pronouns him or her. I consulted with a consultant whom I met in L.A. I consulted him.

Lie vs Lay

This one should not be difficult but it shows up all the time. Lay is transitive and calls for a direct subject. On the other hand, lie (or its past tense lay) is intransitive meaning that it needs no direct object. Example: The Rocky mountains lie between the East and West coast.

Comma and Semicolon Usage

Commas and semicolons are used interchangeably by many authors but this is really just sloppy writing. The rule is really fairly simple. If the two phrase fragments are really related but can stand on their own, use a semicolon (see what I just did?) otherwise use the comma.

Another point of contention is the so-called Oxford comma. This is the final comma in a list. There are apples, oranges, and limes. Or, there are apples, oranges and limes. Should you use it? It depends on who you are writing for. I prefer it because it makes the writing more clear and less ambiguous; others do not.

Know the difference between i.e. and e.g.

The term i.e. is a shortening of the Latin phrase id est, which in English means “that is.” It’s used to introduce a rephrasing or elaboration on something that has already been stated. The term e.g. is a shortening of the Latin expression exempli gratia, meaning “for the sake of example” or more simply, “for example.” This term is used to refer to something that has already been stated.

Affect and Effect

The problem with the confusion over these two words might be the fact that they sound so similar. But in reality they are somewhat related but completely different.

Affect is almost always a verb (as in., Twitter affects people’s attention spans), and effect is almost always a noun (as in, Facebook‘s effects can be politically selective). Affect works to either influence or produce an impression. Effect is the thing produced by the affecting agent It describes a result or outcome. The effect of Hurricane Florence was primarily on the coast; but even communities inland were affected.

Is This a Moot Point?

How often have you heard moot misused? More often than you think. It does not mean the “point” is unimportant or irrelevant, it actually means it is up for debate. So when you see “The city council thinks speed bumps in our neighborhood is a moot point,” it means it is still up for debate.

These are just a few of the common grammatical mistakes we see in writing today, both online and offline. The takeaway is that it is important to sharpen your writing skills because you can’t always trust your editor to catch everything. This is not a moot point.


Looking for more great content? Visit our partner sites:

The Green Frugal

Running Across Texas


As Featured On Ezine Articles

I offer article and blog-writing services. Interested? Hire Me!


Did you find this article helpful? Thanks for supporting this free site with a small donation!

 




Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.


About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Do Social Networking Sites Have an Agenda?

Social Networking, a Blessing and a curse.
Social Networking, a Blessing and a curse.
index sitemap advanced




This post was updated on 07/12/20.

Social networking sites have come to have a huge impact on the lives of most everyone who is connected, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown. In the grand scheme of things this digital behemoth is a relatively new phenomenon. And yet we have come to take it all for granted and until recently we assumed it was all benign. Perhaps it is time to rethink that.

Facebook Betrayed Our Trust

Facebook is the big guy on the block. It hosts 2,230,000,000 monthly visitors. In 2017 it generated 40.65 billion dollars in sales/revenue. Friends, this is big business. Very big business.

These are not just the culmination of small-time hustles. As we recently found out, in 2014, the U.K. affiliate of U.S. political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica employed a Soviet-born American researcher, Aleksandr Kogan. His task was to gather profile information of Facebook users along with what they chose to “Like.”

All told, 300,000 Facebook users, some of whom were paid a small amount, downloaded Kogan’s app, called This Is Your Digital Life, which presented them with a series of surveys. Kogan harvested data not only of those users but also on their Facebook buddies. As it turned out, 87 million users were misled and their personal data was exposed. The data was never meant to be used for “research” purposes as claimed. It was used to influence politics.

Alex Jones of Infowars Banned

Alex Jones is the head honcho at Infowars, a commentary/show known to advance some kooky conspiracy theories as well as hawking supplements. He is not a dangerous fellow and not many people take him seriously; they see him as the internet version of the National Enquirer.

However, the problem is that Social platforms such as Facebook, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube are decidedly left-leaning and saw him as a threat. They have banned him for violating their hate speech policies. Fair enough. 

Where things get dicey is when the shoe is on the other foot. Not a thing is done, for example about the YouTube video of Maxine Waters inciting mob violence targeting conservatives and those working in the Trump administration. We could go on and on about the double standard, even to the point where the coddle Democratic Socialism.

YouTube Puts its Boot On Dennis Prager

Do you know who Dennis Prager is? Besides being a syndicated radio talk host and best-selling author he is also one of the world’s leading scholars on the Torah (the Old Testament for you gentiles). He also produces a collection of videos called PragerU. These videos are a combination of opinion, historical facts, and corroborated research.

Although these videos are not hateful nor an incitement to mob violence as Maxine Water’s are (her liberal rantings are sacrosanct to YouTube), YouTube continues to censor more and more of this material because it is (hold your breath) conservative.

This is how Ben Shapiro explains it, “For more than two years, YouTube has continued to restrict access to more and more of PragerU’s educational videos – simply because they present a conservative point of view. There are currently over 80 PragerU videos that are restricted – more than double the amount of restricted videos since filing our lawsuit against YouTube. Silicon Valley giants like YouTube continue to censor the ideas they don’t agree with. They promote their Leftist ideology and restrict conservative speech.”

I don’t really care which side of the fence you are on; is this really the America you want? Where some millionaire purveyors of social media (that makes them a BIG part of the 1%) decides what we can see and what we can’t? Not the government, not your HOA, not your mommy and daddy, not Antifa, but citizens like you and me?

Social Networking Driving Political and Cultural Change

Given the way the social networking machine silences the right and hands a bullhorn to the progressive left, it is not a huge leap to conclude that they are using their platforms to effect political and social change.

Journalistsresource.org tells us, “The largest and perhaps best-known inquiry into this issue so far is a 2012 study published in the journal Nature, A 61-Million-Person Experiment in Social Influence and Political Mobilization, which suggested that messages on users’ Facebook feeds could significantly influence voting patterns. The study data — analyzed in collaboration with Facebook data scientists — suggested that certain messages promoted by friends “increased turnout directly by about 60,000 voters and indirectly through social contagion by another 280,000 voters, for a total of 340,000 additional votes.”

This is what it has come to. The Democrat party is floundering and without fresh ideas and fresh faces they feel compelled to use the censorship vs promote game to keep some skin in the game.

The conclusion? Social networking sites have an agenda. Do not be fooled into thinking that they are providing some kind of altruistic public service. They serve their masters on the left and sheeple are buying into it.

#metoo? Google Coddles Perps

And now, slightly off topic, Google’s troubles are expanding. is alleged to be rewarding Andy Rubin, the creator of Android in the wake of some sexual shenanigans. As reported b y the New York Post, “Google is about to pay Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, the last installment of his ­­$90 million exit package — a golden parachute he received despite his being credibly accused of coercing a female employee into performing oral sex, it was revealed on Thursday.”

The Post goes on to say, “In addition to claims the legendary software developer coerced a colleague to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room, Rubin had multiple ­extramarital affairs with colleagues — and had bizarre “ownership relationships” with other women to whom he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to an explosive report. 
Google is shelling out a $90 million exit package to Rubin — despite the fact that the search giant had investigated the woman’s claims and found them credible, two company execs told The New York Times.”

Now I for one remain skeptical of the #metoo movement, if only because in many cases it is a political tool rather than a vehicle for justice. To wit, consider the testimony of Dr. Ford during the Justice Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearings for the Supreme Court.

In addition to none of her witnesses remembering what she remembered, it now turns out that she also perjured herself on that “two front doors” thing. Under oath she claimed she had the second door installed during a remodel to deal with her Kavanaugh trauma but it turns out that the door was there long before that. It was a separate entrance when part of the home had been used as office space and apartment rental.


Looking for more great content? Visit our partner sites:

The Green Frugal

Running Across Texas


As Featured On Ezine Articles

I offer article and blog-writing services. Interested? Hire Me!


Did you find this article helpful? Thanks for supporting this free site with a small donation!

 




Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.





Online Scams to Watch Out For



Beware of internet scam and spam
Beware of internet scam and spam

Article updated 11/14/18.

Scamming rubes is nothing new; it has been around as long as the unscrupulous among us began to figure out how to separate the gullible from their cash. Snake oil anyone? Step right up. Methods vary but the digital age has really opened up the floodgates for these charlatans. Forget the iconic “Nigerian prince and Middle East widow;” things have gotten more sophisticated. Here are a few online scams to watch out for.

Trump Bonus Checks, Freedom Checks, and the 501(k)

This one has been making the rounds for some time now. There are many variations but what it boils down to is that money is out there for the average American to claim (But hurry! There’s a deadline!) Yeah right, and every time that deadline expires it’s pushed forward.

Some of them claim that large corporations are just falling over in their eagerness to cut huge checks. Others actually seem to claim that President Trump actually signed legislation to hand out money like candy (But hurry! There’s a deadline!). These are called Trump Bonus Checks. They never specifically claim that the Donald had anything to do with it but the slippery bums plant the seed of reality by taking advantage of a little thing called greed.

The reality? These shysters are selling expensive stock-pick newsletters. Couldn’t cut it as legitimate brokers, I suppose.

Have You Seen Ads About the 501(k)?

Regarding one that I just saw this morning the hook read, “Trump’s New Law Could Mean Big Changes for Retirees.” Did Trump change something in his tax reduction? No! He simply did not reference or eliminate certain already existing tax loopholes. But these “advisors,” ahem, are clever with words. And targeting retirees online? Sad.

In reality they want to send you a book that tells you how to invest in their “secret plan,” of which they say, “Because government heavily restricts the advertising for this “account,” most people aren’t aware of just how great it is.”

Heavily restricted? But their have their ads plastered all over the internet? This is so odoriferous; it stinks to high heaven of chicanery.

The “Consumer Bonus” Hidden in Section 11042

Shhh, don’t tell anyone but this bonus has been “hidden”in the Trump tax reform bill. The online video tripe put out by the Oxford Club (now, doesn’t that name just radiate confidence?) claims the average citizen can get a bonus of cash of up to $3,700 for purchases. In their words, anything from a pair of shoes to a yacht. And the best part is that the IRS doesn’t even care if you save receipts. Yowsa!

But hold your horses. Does this pass the smell test, I ask? As Intuit Turbotax puts it, “This is bogus, a play on words, and nothing of substance. If you read the language of that section, that is indeed the section that limits the SALT deduction, a provision that was subject to much political debate. Before enactment of HR 1, you could fully deduct your paid state and local income taxes. This provision limits that amount for tax years after 2017 and before 2026 to $10,000.”

“So the claim is “legit” in the sense that if you are at the top marginal tax rate and you itemize your deductions and you paid $10,000 or more in state or local taxes, your tax bill will be $3,700 lower in 2018 than it would be without 26 USC 164 (which Section 11042 modifies).”

“However, it is entirely bogus because that section of the 2017 tax bill does not provide any new benefit at all, like the copy explicitly states (it is in fact limiting an existing benefit) and because that provision does not even apply to tax year 2017 anyway. If you were already benefiting from “this section” you will continue to benefit (albeit to a lesser extent). If you were not already benefiting, you will continue to not benefit.”

OK, that was a bit long-winded but it’s the gospel according to Turbotax and if anyone knows the code, it’s them. So what the heck is up with that illustrious organization the Oxford Club? Same old, same old bait and switch show. They want you to subscribe to The Oxford Communiqué. They are basically selling you their stock tips. But really, if they had to stitch together that whole bogus tale of the Shhhh, Hidden Consumer Bonus, do you really trust their tips?

Just Sign the Petition…

This one is usually has a political flavor. Sometimes it comes from a bona fide politician. Sometimes it comes from a third party, maybe a legitimate fundraiser, maybe not. In any event, here is the way it works. The email concerns an alarmist political issue.

“Dear fellow patriot, we desperately need your support. Please click to sign the petition which we will deliver to X,Y, or Z. Clicking will indeed take you to a petition for you to “sign.” How can typing your name hold water? Next you are taken to a page asking for a monetary contribution.

Why does it work? People that are politically aware are emotional about their side on most issues, whether it is for the Republicans or the Democrats. It is a classic emotion-play. But in the case of a third party solicitation, what percentage actually goes to the cause and how much to “operating expenses?” If you really want to contribute, go right to the party.

This is another one that is designed to tug on your heartstrings. Booooooing! You will usually be shown a sad photo of a child, people, etc. in a horrible situation. Next they go to work exaggerating the back story about these people. After the story, they then ask that you donate some money to this noble cause.




Unfortunately even the supposedly reliable charities don’t always make the grade. Several years ago the Red Cross got a slew of bad press for the incredible expenses they went through while doing some remodeling on their headquarters.

Rather than just handing over your cash on the spot, ask to see in writing the way and what percentage of funds actually get distributed. If they are legit they will be glad to oblige. If they hesitate or hem ‘n haw, give them the boot.

Search for Your Name

This money-grabber comes cloaked in a number of come-ons. It might say “Scary what this site knows bout Americans. Enter any name,” “Have you Googled Yourself?,” or something similar. Clicking will take you to a page that allows you to enter a name, state, etc. It will yield some basic facts but then wants to charge your credit card to give you the real scoop. What they don’t tell you is that all this info is all in the public records.


Do you really know your employees?


All you are really paying for is for someone (actually something, an algorithm) to do the leg work for you. If you don’t mind paying for that, OK. But keep in mind that this is a sneaky come-on and as long as they have aggregated your data they can easily use it themselves or sell it to others as a basis for identity theft.

Bottom line? Don’t trust anyone; approach each situation as a business transaction. Do not open any email attachments that you do not trust. Keep your emotions in check. Sign up for the Kim Komando newsletter. She is always on top of new scams.


Looking for more great content? Visit our partner sites:

The Green Frugal

Running Across Texas

As Featured On Ezine Articles

I offer article and blog-writing services. Interested? Hire Me!


Did you find this article helpful? Thanks for supporting this free site with a small donation!




Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.


Widget is loading comments…