AWWWWK-WARD

Mary Cheney, the VP’s daughter, is pregnant. According to the Washington Post, she and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are ecstatic. But what rights should the baby have?

Justice Scalia, President Bush, et al., hope to amend the Constitution so Mary and Heather can never get a marriage license. But is it better for the baby to be born out of wedlock? Better to for it have one loving parent than two? Should Mary be forced to find a man to marry? Should all single mothers be forced to find men to marry? What penalty should the government exact if they don’t? Take their babies away and put them up for adoption? Is it okay for the baby to be raised by both Mary and Heather just so long as their family doesn’t enjoy equal rights and the baby is not covered by Heather’s health insurance?

Those who oppose marriage equality need to share their answers to those questions.

STOLEN WALLETS, ETC.

Alan Light: ‘Re yesterday‘s tips: As you yourself pointed out years ago, it is a myth that hotel keys contain personal information such as credit card numbers. They don’t even contain a guest’s name. Click here.’

☞ Just because I write these columns doesn’t mean I have to read them. (Too much politics for my taste.)

Mark Centuori: ‘It’s very, very (very) highly unlikely that your bank will know how you usually sign your checks, or care if you decide to add/drop an initial now and then. So have your name printed however you want.’

☞ On large checks, banks sometimes actually do verify signatures.

Mark continues: ‘Good information about identity theft – and protection – is available here from the FTC and here from Bankrate.com.’

Sandra Wilde: ‘People who’ve had their wallet stolen sometimes make the mistake of waiting until they get home and find the credit card numbers since they think they need them to cancel the cards. Here’s what to do: find, in the phone book or, faster yet, from the back of a friend’s credit card, ANY phone number for Visa or Master Card or whatever card it is. They’ll be able to find your info, ask you some security questions, and cancel your card. This stops them IMMEDIATELY from being used.’

Margaret Koppen: ‘Your warnings about stolen wallets and security precautions reminded me of the lecture I give to friends and family when leaving the United States with credit cards in their pockets. We had an unfortunately incident in Peru several years ago – held in the desert for four hours at gunpoint by banditos who had been driving our bus (nice). The gist is that no one in your party should carry ANY credit or ATM card without knowing the ATM code. In most parts of the world, people give an ATM code when they use a credit card, rather than a signature, and use credit cards to get money out of ATM machines – not just ATM cards. So when you’re robbed, it’s common in other countries also to be taken captive, instead of just stealing your wallet, because they need you along with your credit cards to get the codes – often by threats and force.

‘When I leave the country now, I write the ATM codes on sticky notes on the back of every card in my wallet. Don’t worry if your banditos get cash off your cards using those codes – it’s still fraud, so your bank will reverse all the stolen charges (in our case, they got about four grand – serious money in Peru – and each of us ended up paying $50 total). Like most Americans, I generally have no idea what the ATM codes are for my credit cards, since we don’t use those here, but try explaining that to a guy with a gun who only speaks Spanish. Best to be able to say: ‘Look at the sticky note’ [Mirar la nota pegajosa].

‘Unfortunately, your kidnappers may keep you anyway, through a 24-hour cycle, to hit the machines twice (depending on the sophistication level of banking in your country of choice). Of course, do exactly what they say, give them what they want (except for rape), and don’t be belligerent – one of our gals was belligerent and they broke several of her ribs to shut her up. Not the most festive warnings for the holidays, but your readers will thank you after catching a bad colectivo in Chiapas over the holidays. Happy holidays and safe travels.’

AH, THE IRANY

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