Archive for the ‘Tongue in Cheek’ Category

German 419 Scam

May 27, 2014

I have become used to receiving emails from people around the world who want to send me a share of money that they have obtained in various shady ways, if only I will help them. I have gotten such messages, usually in broken English supposedly coming  from Burkina Faso, Libya, and Portugal. Who knows where they have really been sent from? I have also been  informed that there is an agent with a package waiting for me at an international airport. Now I have received such a message written in German.

Attn: Bitte
 
Ich bin Herr Kofi Bentum, der Leiter der Revisionsabteilung in meiner Bank hier in Ghana, Wir hatten einen auslдndischen Kunden, der eine Gold-Hдndler ist und er hinterlegt eine groЯe Summe Geld in der Bank, schlieЯlich starb bei einem Autounfall ohne nдchsten kin, mцchte ich Sie auf meiner Bank als die nдchsten Angehцrigen einzufьhren, so dass dieses Geld auf Ihr Bankkonto ьberwiesen, dann teilen wir das Geld je 50% 50% werden.
 
Wenn Sie sich bitte mir zu helfen, dieses Geld kontaktieren Sie mich unter meiner E-Mail sind: (kofibentum2014@yahoo.co.jp) fьr weitere Informationen.
 
GrьЯe,
Mr.Kofi Bentum
I happen to know a little German, at least enough to understand the general meaning of the message but I ran it through Google Translate to learn the details.

Attn: PleaseI am Mr. Kofi Bentum, the head of the audit department in my bank here in Ghana, we had a auslдndischen customer who is a Gold Hдndler and he deposited a groЯe sum of money in the bank, schlieЯlich died in a car accident without nдchsten kin, mцchte I will einzufьhren on my bench as the nдchsten Angehцrigen, so that this money ьberwiesen to your bank account, then we share the money 50% 50%.

If you please to help me this money are contact me at my e-mail: (kofibentum2014@yahoo.co.jp) closed for more information.

GrьЯe,
Mr.Kofi Bentum

The untranslated words were  those which have umlauts or that double s, ß that is sometimes used in German. Mr. Kofi Bentum apparently did not use a German keyboard and the ß  and the vowels with umlauts look like Cyrillic letters. I am not sure if the mistakes or oddities in wording are the result of Google Translate or Mr. Bentum’s unfamiliarity with German. Perhaps I can improve the translation by using a German dictionary.
I am Mr. Kofi Bentum, the head of the audit department of my bank here in Ghana. We had a foreign customer who was a gold dealer and he deposited a large sum of money in the bank, then died in a car accident without next of kin. I would like you to withdraw it  from my bank as the next of kin, so that this money is transferred to your bank account, then we share the money 50-50.
If you would like to help me get this money, please contact me at my email… for more information.
Regards,
Maybe I should travel to Nigeria or Ghana and get work polishing up the emails they send out.  Maybe not.
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Agent Richard Ryder

March 19, 2014

I must be one of the luckiest people in the world. Every time I am short of money, I get offers from all over the world from people eager to share their wealth with me, if only I will forward them my contact information and perhaps a small fee to get things rolling. I have had offers from Nigeria, Libya, and even Portugal. Now I have received information about some money that is waiting for me at an international airport.

Attn: Valuable Customer,

We wish to inform you that the  Agent conveying the consignment box valued the
sum of ($4.7M US) misplaced your info on transmit and he is currently stranded
right at your international airport with your consignment. We required you
reconfirm the following info, so he can complete the trip contained your
payment fund today.

Full Name: ============
Current Address: ==============
Mobile No.:===================
Name of Your Nearest
Airport:==============
A Copy of Your Passport/Drivers License,(If possible):==========

Please do make contact with the agent with the email below with the info
required. Contact Person: Richard RYDER
E-mail : (deplomatic.richryder0@hotmail.com)

He is waiting to hear from you today with the information.
NOTE: The agent does not know that the whot of the box is $4.7Million USD and
on no circumstances should you let him know about what it contains The
consignments was moved from here as a family treasures, so never allow him to
open it, Please make sure you do not disclose body of this letter to him so
that he won’t be able to know what is in the box.

Yours sincerely
Mr. Bernard Edward,
Email me at mr.bernardedward@yahoo.com

I hope that airport isn’t too far away. I would hate to have to drive too far to get my money.

 

 

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How Many Angels Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

March 17, 2014

This is a question that is supposed to have been hotly debated throughout the Middle Ages. The idea is that instead studying questions that might be of some use to people, the scholastic philosophers and theologians of the High Middle Ages debated abstruse questions that could not be decided by any evidence and made no difference to anyone living in the real world. This question has become a byword for any intellectual endeavor that is abstract and meaningless.

In fact, the Scholastics specialized in using logic and reason to discuss all sorts of philosophical issues and to reconcile contradictions in philosophy and theology. They were particularly concerned to resolve the differences between ancient Greek philosophy, especially the newly discovered teachings of Aristotle, and the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Their method was usually to ask a question concerning some philosophical point. Arguments contrary to official dogma would first be given, then the official or generally accepted position would be stated, with arguments in its favor, and finally the opponents arguments would be rebutted. These arguments often took the form of citations from the Bible or writings of the Church fathers, but a rigorous system of logic was used to explain and expound on the citations and logic was used to reconcile or reject positions. The doctrines of the Catholic Church were not upheld by faith alone or the authority of the Church. Since the Scholastics held that reason and faith both pointed to the same Truth, reason could and should be used to defend the faith. Perhaps the best example of the Scholastic method would be Thomas Aquinas‘s Summa Theologica. In his masterpiece, he examines point after point of Catholic doctrine in the way I explained.

This Scholastic method could be used with other subjects, including the natural sciences. The work that the Scholastics did was not quite what we call science. They were more interested in abstract reasoning about observations than in performing experiments. While the Scholastics made many contributions to mathematics, including introducing Arabic numerals to the West, the extensive use of mathematics to describe and explain  the natural world generally had to wait until the time of Galileo.  Modern science is only possible if you believe that the universe is an orderly, reasonable place that can be studied using reason and observation. By emphasizing rather than rejecting the use of reason, the Scholastics laid the foundation for the scientific revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

To get back to the subject, although medieval theologians were much concerned about angelology, including the question of whether angels take up physical space and whether an angel traveling from point A to point B travels through the points between, there is no evidence that the questions of how many angels dance on the head of a pin or the point of a needle was ever seriously debated. It is most likely that the question was made up by later critics of Scholastic philosophy to demonstrate the supposed stupidity and triviality of Medieval thinking. It might also have been a joke among the Scholastics or the type of riddle that students might ask to trip up their professors, perhaps something like the question, “what happens when an irresistible force meets an immoveable object”.

So, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? I had always thought that the number must be infinite since angels   are not composed of mass or energy and do not take up any physical space. I may be wrong, however, since I have not taken quantum effects into account. Recent research in quantum angelology, a field of theological physics, indicates that the number is, in fact, finite. The Pauli exclusion principle prevents any two angels from occupying the same quantum states. Angels may not have any mass, but they do contain information and any individual angel cannot be smaller than the Planck length of 1.616 X 10 -34  meters. According to the  article I linked to, the maximum number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin is 8.6766 X 10 49 angels.

angels-on-pin

8.6766X10 49 angels are dancing on this pin.

 

 

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Speeding

January 24, 2014

I have mentioned before that I have found Cracked.com unusually informative for a comedy website. Not too long ago they ran an article on Five Ways Your Brain is Turning You into a Jerk. Number three on this list refers to Time Saving Bias, the idea that if we drive above the speed limit we are saving a large amount of valuable time.

We all know that driver: the one who’s constantly speeding like she’s a heart surgeon zipping back and forth between two patients she’s simultaneously operating on in different cities. Please excuse the language.

Now, here comes the twist: There’s a good chance that driver is actually you.

If you’ve ever found yourself driving like an asshole, it could be simply because you are an asshole. However, there is another, stranger explanation: Maybe you do it because your brain prevents you from understanding the very concept of time. Time-saving bias, a very specialized bastard trick of our cranial command center, scrambles our ability to estimate the time that can be saved by increasing speed. Basically, your brain is poker-facedly explaining that driving faster will turn you into a Time Lord, and you’re happy to comply in case it’s telling the truth, because who wouldn’t?

The routine misestimations caused by time-saving bias are more common (and extreme) for some people than others, and often lead to speeding and — by extension — all the assorted shithead antics that follow when you wipe your ass with the speed limit.

Scientists are still attempting to wrap their heads around time-saving bias and how large of a part the phenomenon plays in the brain’s already impressive arsenal of traffic sabotage.

After reading this, I wondered just how much time I actually save by driving fast. What if I had to drive for sixty miles at a constant speed of sixty miles per hour? I would be driving at one mile per minute so it would take me one hour, or sixty minutes to reach my destination. But, what if the speed limit on the road were 30 miles per hour? Well, then I would be driving at only one half a mile per minute so the drive would take 120 minutes or two hours. If the speed limit were 55 miles per hour, I would be driving at about .917 miles per minute so the drive would take about 65 minutes. If I were in a hurry, I might drive 65 miles per hour, or 1.08 miles per minute so the trip would take only about 55 minutes. Five minutes either way doesn’t seem like a lot.

I sometimes have to drive from Madison to North Vernon as part of my job. The distance between the two towns is around 27 miles. The road is not straight but has several curves and it goes through the small town of Dupont, which has a lower speed limit. It usually takes me about 35 minutes to drive from Madison to North Vernon. Suppose that is the time if I drive an average of 55 miles per hour. How much time do I save by driving faster? If I go 60 miles per hour I am driving 1.09 times faster so the travel time should be .9167 times shorter or about 32 minutes. If I decide to risk getting a ticket and go at 70 miles per hour than I am driving 1.27 times faster so the travel time should be .79 times shorter or about 28 minutes. Saving five to ten minutes doesn’t seem to be worth the risk of being stopped and made to pay a fine.

So, now that I have run the numbers and seen that speeding doesn’t really save that much time, am I going to stop speeding and obey every speed limit? Of course not. If I am going 5 miles per hour faster than the speed limit, my brain is telling me I am traveling at warp speed and who doesn’t want to feel like Captain Kirk on the Enterprise?

 

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NewYear’s Day

January 1, 2014

We didn’t do anything to celebrate the New Year. We didn’t watch the ball drop last night because we needed our sleep. I had to work. So, it was just another day today.

I have often felt that our calendar begins the New Year at a very bad time. New Year’s Day is only a week after Christmas so there is something of an anti-climax. The year begins in the dead of winter when days are still short and it is often cloudy, so the year begins at the most depressing time of the year. I think it would be better if the new year began at the end of one season and the beginning of another, preferably at the first day of spring, March 21. Beginning the year in the middle of a month might be awkward, so I would settle for either March 1 or April 1.

We start the new year on January 1, because our calendar, the Gregorian Calendar is ultimately based on the calendar used by the ancient Romans. Under the old Roman calendar, the new year began when the two consuls began their terms. This was on May 1 before 222 BC, March 15 from 222 BC until 153 BC, and then January 1. When Julius Caesar reformed the calendar, he kept January 1 as the first day of the year and we have been stuck with it ever since. Actually, during the Middle Ages, some countries in Europe did begin the year in spring.For example, England began the year on March 25. When the Gregorian Calendar was introduced and adopted throughout Europe, this regional diversity came to an end and everyone acknowledged January 1 as New Year’s Day, unfortunately.

Maybe I could start some sort of campaign to change the date of New Year’s. I could put up petitions on the Internet, lobby Congress, request the change from President Obama, even appeal to Pope Francis. Nah. It’s cold outside and dark and we’re expecting snow and it all seems like an awful amount of work. Maybe I’ll wait until spring.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2014.

Awkward Holiday Debates

December 20, 2013

Once again, the Democrats are ready to help out with those awkward holiday political debates. This time the Truth Team has sent some talking points to use against that conservative relative.

David –

We all have that one relative — we won’t name names — who just loves to argue about politics.

It’s like clockwork — every year, the same conversations. And you just know that health care is going to come up this year — this time, make sure you’re ready. There’s a lot of good news on our side.

So here’s an extra large serving of truth, in the form of must-read Obamacare success stories from news outlets across the country.

Check them out and pass them along:

– Got a relative railing about health care costs? Well, according to The New York Times piece, thanks in part to Obamacare and its cost-control measures, “the slowdown in health care costs has been dramatic.” Not only that — according to the Times, the biggest savings might be yet to come. (Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter)

– Here’s a great round-up of a few success stories from the Los Angeles Times your relative probably missed, including this great quote from a new enrollee, “If not for the Affordable Care Act, our ability to get insurance would be very limited, if we could get it at all.” (Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter)

– A personal enrollment story featured in The Huffington Post from a self-employed blogger, including how much he loves his new coverage, and what he thinks about the push-back from his conservative friends. (Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter)

– A great story from a recent health care enrollee in North Carolina featured in the Raleigh News & Observer — and how easy it was for her to sign up. (Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter)

If you have a good talk about health care this holiday season, be sure to share your story with us — funny, inspiring, or even challenging, we’d love to hear how your conversations are going.

Last, but certainly not least — I want to say thank you for being such a champion for health care this year. You’ve been critical in helping get the good word out about Obamacare — and supporters like you will be all I’m talking about with my family this holiday season. You are inspiring. And you’re why I know that no matter what special interests throw at us, they won’t beat what we’ve got.

Have a healthy, relaxing holiday — don’t worry, there’s more truth coming soon.

Erin

Erin Hannigan
Health Care Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

I certainly hope they won’t start naming names. It might be slightly creepy, in a Orwellian sense if Organizing for Action knew which of my relatives liked to argue about politics. Actually, they probably do have access to NSA files. Anyway, it seems to me that the best way to have a healthy, relaxing holiday might be to avoid getting into debates about politics with your relatives. Besides, who wants to turn into this guy?

Douchey-Obamacare-Guy

Not me!

 

Christmas Carols

December 7, 2013
English: The last verse of The Twelve Days of ...

English: The last verse of The Twelve Days of Christmas. The Song was published in 1780, so it is public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I spend most of my time working as a merchandiser for a soft drink
company in grocery stores and WalMart, around this time of year, I am
exposed to a lot of Christmas music. Most of the time, it is just in the
background as I work, but for the last couple of days I have been
listening more closely and this has cause me to wonder a little about
some of these Christmas Carols. Don’t get me wrong. I like the songs. I
am just wondering.

Consider Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

Santa Claus works for the NSA? I always did have my suspicions about that jolly old elf. How did he afford all those toys, not to mention upkeep for the reindeer, etc. He must have been selling information to the government for years.
What does Silver Bells have to do with Christmas? Is it a custom somewhere to ring bells on Christmas? Maybe it is a reference to the bells on Santa’s sleigh, or the bell ringers for the Salvation Army. According to Wikipedia, the composer originally intended the song to be Tinkle Bells, until his wife reminded him that tinkle could mean urination.
Deck the Halls has been ruined by changes in slang. I imagine that “Don we now our gay apparel” must have once meant the festive clothing one might wear to a Christmas party. Now it evokes an image of attending the party in drag.
The Twelve Days of Christmas refer to the twelve days between Christmas and the Feast of Epiphany on January 6. I have to wonder who in the world would give their true love 12 partridges in pear trees, 22 turtle doves, 30 french hens, 36 colly birds, 40 gold rings, 42 geese a laying, 42 swans a swimming, 40 maids a milking, 36 ladies dancing, 30 lords a leaping, 22 pipers piping, and 12 drummers drumming, and where the true love could keep them all.
Why would you want to Let It Snow? There are more people traveling around Christmas time than at any other time of the year. You would have to be some sort of sociopath who wants to ruin Christmas to want the delays and accidents that snow brings. The same could be said of White Christmas.
I happen to know the Latin lyrics to O Come All Ye Faithful.
Adeste Fideles laeti triumphantes
Venite, venite in Bethelhem
Natum videte
Regnum angelorum
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus
Dominum
I find Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer to be slightly disturbing. All of the other reindeer laugh, call him names, and refuse to let him play any reindeer games, until his deformity is found to be useful. Then, they all love him. It seems the lesson here is that it is acceptable to bully those who happen to be different, unless they are useful.
My favorite carol is Silent Night. I love the melody and the lyrics. For some reason, that particular song evokes Christmas in me more than any other. I used to know the German lyrics but I have forgotten them. I also like We Three Kings Orient Are, O Little Town of Bethlehem, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Joy to the World and Angels We Have Heard On High. I don’t like some of the newer songs as much. I mean songs like Jingle Bell Rock, Feliz Navidad, and a few others. I like Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas and Frosty the Snowman, but they seem to play songs like that too much and they tend to get on my nerves.
Christmas is my favorite time of the year in good part because of the cheerful music. It is always something of a letdown after Christmas. The gloom of the winter seems all the greater compared the the cheer before and I would have to say that January is my least favorite month.
Well, I hope everyone has a holly, jolly Christmas.

Your Republican Uncle

November 27, 2013

Matt Compton at the Democratic National Committee has a terrific idea on how to spend your Thanksgiving holiday after you finish the turkey; argue with your relatives about how wonderful a job President Obama is doing.

Friend –

This time of year, the only thing more annoying than holiday traffic is an awkward conversation with family about politics.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the Republicans in my life. But nothing ruins a slice of pecan pie faster than talking through immigration reform with a cousin who spends too much time listening to Rush Limbaugh.

That’s why we’re launching YourRepublicanUncle.com. And if you want to make sure that the political debates around your dinner table this Thanksgiving stay tethered to reality, you should check it out.

We can’t do anything about highway congestion, but we can make sure you have the information you need to answer a bonkers question about President Obama’s record on jobs or the perfect fact to respond to a ridiculous argument about the Affordable Care Act.

And to make sure you get that information whenever you need it, we designed YourRepublicanUncle.com so that it looks great and loads quickly on your phone — no getting ambushed when you go back for seconds on stuffing.

This holiday season, don’t stress about the political debates. We’ve got your back:

www.YourRepublicanUncle.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

Matt

Matt Compton
Digital Director
Democratic National Committee

If you handle it right, you won’t have to worry about spending time at get togethers with your non-progressive relatives ever again. Once you have that reputation as the obnoxious cousin who starts fights over politics, they’ll start to “forget” to invite you. Of course you could avoid talking about politics or any other controversial subject, but no holiday is really complete without a shouting match and permanent family breakups. And, on the way home after being kicked out of your uncle’s house, you can revel in that righteous feeling of indignation on the way those racist Neanderthals treated you after you tried to bring some enlightenment into their lives.

The link leads to a website full of liberal talking points. There is not much of interest there. Most of the points are  of the “No he isn’t” variety, as in, “No Obama doesn’t have the worst jobs record of all time.” or, “No Obamacare won’t put many small businesses out of business.” There don’t seem to be any actual untruths there, but they don’t go out of the way to provide the whole truth in context either. The “Republican” positions they are intended to rebut seem to comprise more than a few strawmen. I  doubt if anyone’s Republican uncle is going to be very impressed, at least not if they have some awareness of the issues. They certainly won’t be convinced.

 

Who’s to Blame

October 4, 2013
James Madison, Hamilton's major collaborator, ...

It’s all his fault (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michael Barone has placed the blame for the current government shutdown and gridlock generally squarely where it belongs, on James Madison. He explains his reasoning in his column at Townhall.com.

The problem was caused by James Madison. And by the 39 other men who signed the Constitution in 1787.

The problem, of course, is the government shutdown. It was caused because the Framers of the Constitution wisely provided for separation of powers among the three branches of government.

The president would faithfully execute the laws and be commander in chief of the military, but both houses of Congress would have to approve of every penny the government could spend.

In the early republic, it was widely assumed that presidents could veto legislation only it was deemed unconstitutional. Disagreeing with policy was not enough.

That changed after Andrew Jackson vetoed the recharter of the Second Bank of the United States in 1832 and was promptly reelected. Jackson claimed to act on constitutional grounds, but it came to be understood that presidents could veto laws they disagreed with.

That understanding, together with the constitutional structure, imposes something like a duty of consultation between the president and members of Congress. Otherwise — and you may have heard about this — the government will have to shut down.

Government shutdowns have occurred more frequently than the media is telling us.

Astonishingly, Obama said in a prepared statement that no president had negotiated ancillary issues with Congress when a shutdown was threatened. Four Pinocchios, said Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler.

The Post’s Wonkblog helpfully listed 17 government shutdowns since the late 1970s. Almost all involved legislative-executive disagreement over ancillary issues

Divided government is more the norm than the exception, and is likely to be a continuing feature of American politics.

Democratic voters — blacks, Hispanics, gentry liberals — are heavily clustered in certain central cities. They give Democrats an advantage in the Electoral College.

Republican voters are more evenly spread around beyond these Democratic bastions. That gives Republicans an advantage in the House of Representatives.

So both sides have a legitimate mandate — but not an unlimited one.

Republicans are furious that their members can’t defund or delay Obamacare. They want to see politicians stand up yelling, “No!” Theater has a function in politics.

But in fact, they’ve had a partial victory this year, a win that didn’t seem likely last December. By accepting the sequester despite its defense cuts, Republicans have actually dialed down domestic discretionary spending.

Democrats’ position now is essentially the sequester. They’re swallowing something they hate. No wonder Obama seems sullen.

So both sides will have frustratingly partial victories and not get everything they want. That’s how James Madison’s system is supposed to work in a closely divided country.

Darn those founding fathers. It almost seems that they were afraid that a government that was too centralized and powerful would devolve into tyranny so they placed all sorts of limits on the government. That’s just silly. Everybody knows that could never happen. The government is here to help us all and the best way to allow it to so it would be to get rid of all those pesky constitutional restrictions and allow the Light Worker to do his job. Right?

 

 

3-D Printer

October 4, 2013

I have been wondering what all the fuss is about 3-D printers and where I might be able to purchase one. Just today a got an e-mail from Hammacher Schlemmer showcasing their latest best and unexpected items for sale, including a 3-D printer.

The Desktop 3D Printer.

Winner of the Popular Mechanic’s Breakthrough Award, this is the printer that creates exact, three-dimensional reproductions of objects. Over a thousand free designs, such as an iPhone case, a bracelet, and the Sphinx of Hatshepsut can be downloaded from a website and the printer extrudes 1/125″-thin layers of warm, viscous thermoplastic that hardens within seconds, forming a solid, three-dimensional meticulous reproduction. Three-dimensional prints can measure up to 5 1/2″ cu. and for intricate designs that require reinforcement during printing, the device automatically incorporates plastic supports that can be removed when the print is finished. Design files are exported to the printer via Wi Fi or the included USB flash drive and the printer’s touchscreen control panel allows you to optimize print settings. Additional designs can be purchased and downloaded from the website or generated using three-dimensional modeling software (not included). Includes one cartridge of neon green plastic (additional colors available below) that yields up to 14 three-dimensional prints. Compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista or XP and Mac OSX

82332_1000x1000

It looks great. This item can be mine for only $1300. I am going to have to order one quick before they run out.

I wonder if the design for the 3D printed gun is included.

 

 

 


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