Thursday, June 29, 2006

Racist? Moi?

You may have read my post a few days ago on ‘Scam-baiting’. The practice of stringing along 419 scammers to waste their time.

I recently read posts on numerous forums from people who brand ‘scam-baiting’ a ‘racist’ activity.

Why? Because nearly every scammer who is baited is black.

Ok, before I can even begin to comment on this, let me explain exactly who these people are, and what they’re like.

In Nigeria, the idea is that 419 scamming is ‘Just a game.’ If someone is stupid enough to fall for these scams, they deserve to lose their money. It’s also true that Nigeria has a culture that holds people who can earn money without working in high regard.

Now, while 419 scams being ‘just a game’ has never been true, in the past, it has been closer to the truth.

In the past, 419 scams came as faxes, delivered to businesses. Most of the people who where scammed where rich businessmen.

With the advent of email, this is no longer true. These bastards prey on the old and infirm. It’s also no longer a case of greed being the motivating factor for the victim. Many of these 419 scammers attempt to con money from you by pretending to be collecting for charities, or pretending to be people in distress.

Make no mistake, 419 scams destroy lives and these scammers just don’t care.

If you want a cast iron example, I was baiting a scammer, and I decided to see just what lengths these people would go to. I pretended to be the owner of a private orphanage. My scammer was attempting to get $15,000 dollars out of me for ‘expenses’, after which I would receive over 10 million. I sent the following email (I’ve paraphrased as the bait is still ongoing, and scammers often google to check they’re not being baited):

“I need your assurances that our deal will go through without any delays. The $15,000 I am going to send you is our entire funding for the year. This is the money we use to feed, clothe and house the orphans. If I lose this money, I will be left with over 200 babies that will be out on the street, and will be unable to feed them. Many of these children also have health problems.

I implore you, if you have any doubts, or if there is any chance whatsoever that this deal may fail, please let me know”

I should also point out here, before anyone points out that anyone willing to put these babies in jeopardy is as guilty as the scammer, in previous emails, I stated that the money from the deal would be spent entirely on the orphanage, that was in financial trouble.

I received a reply the next day, assuring me that everything would be fine and I shouldn’t worry.

That’s the people we’re dealing with. People who are willing to screw over an orphanage, see over 200 babies on the street, just so they can buy a new car.

Calling scammers ‘under privileged’ and suggesting they are forced into scamming is also based on a faulty premise. If these people are so poor, how can they afford all that time in the Internet Café? How can they afford all those fake documents, international phone calls, etc?

Make no mistake. These people are absolute scum. They’re not under-privileged, they’re not forced to do anything. They’re criminals, plain and simple. Even if you did have to be completely stupid to fall for one of their scams (Which you don’t, just inexperienced and a little naïve) does this make their crime any less terrible? Is stealing from stupid people any more defendable than stealing from intelligent people?

Look at it this way. You and I would spot a scam-email right away. But would your grandmother? If your gran received an email from someone claiming to be collecting money for disaster victims, orphans or just asking for help…how likely is she to dismiss it immediately.

As a final example, in one case a victim tried to help a ‘sick’ woman who was dying. She wanted her children to live in America, go to college etc. All the victim needed to do was open an account, and have the money transferred to her. Then she could keep 20%.

This victim ended up over $120,000 in debt. She will be paying over a thousand dollars a month for the next twenty years to get her debts paid off. She has no car, no credit and has lost her home, with no chance of ever owning another one. She also borrowed money from her mother, who kept the transaction secret from her husband. The victim’s mother is now forced to work full time at age 70 to make a dent in her debt, and is afraid to tell her husband from fear he will divorce her.

These are the people we’re dealing with. Remember that.

This now brings me to the race issue.

It’s a sad fact that 99.9% of these scams come from Africa. Scam baiters do not focus on or seek out black scammers. We bait people by simply replying to the scam emails we receive. Also, a lot of these scams tend to come from people claiming to be Dutch, German, British, etc.

Yes, we make fools out of these people. Yes, we make them take pictures of themselves in stupid poses and holding stupid signs. Many baiters attempt to put the scammer out of pocket by demanding documents are sent physically instead of over the internet.

That most of these people are black, does this make baiter’s racist?

No. The plain and simple and completely unalterable fact is that these scammers contact us. If a white, asian, Hispanic or latin scammer contacted one of us, we’d bait them just the same.

If you scroll down a few posts, you’ll see a good example of a ‘trophy picture’. This guy is black, and he’s been conned into making himself look like an absolute fool. Is this racist?

No. The only reason that picture is on the internet is because when that guy got his picture taken, he believed he was scamming a church out of over $70,000 dollars.

My point is that baiting is not anti-black. It’s anti-thieving scumbag.

These people get baited and made a fool of because they’re trying to steal money from hard-working, honest people. If they didn’t scam, they wouldn’t get baited. It’s that simple.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dear Ford Motors

Dear Ford Motor Company,

Let me begin by asking you the following question:

What are you thinking?

For the past month or so, my ears have been assaulted by your really annoying ‘Beep Beep’ commercial. For some reason you think a really annoying woman, singing a really annoying song at a volume level much higher than the actual program I’m watching is the way to sell cars.

Let me say that advert resulted in wearing out the mute button on my TV remote.

Then, just as that torture ends, you inflict and I choose that work carefully, that crazy, gray haired weirdo from American Idol on us. I swear, if I see that guy cock his head to one side and smile like a special needs student just one more time I’m going to absolutely lose it.

As for his song lyrics: “I go where I want, I go where I need”…after seeing that advertisement for the 50th time this evening, the place I need to go is the studio where you filmed that ad, grab a sniper rifle, and wait for you to work on the sequel.

In short, really, really, really annoying your customers in not the way to sell cars.

For hints on what your customers actually want, study the Victoria’s Secret commercials.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Scambaiting : It's A New Sport!

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I stumbled upon last night.

This is without doubt the funniest site I’ve ever seen. If you’ve never heard of the Nigerian 419 scam, none of this will make any sense, so let me give you a rundown:

The Nigerian 419 scams are ‘advance fee’ cons. Essentially, you receive an email from someone claiming to have millions of dollars and you’ll get a nice chunk of the money if you help in a 100% risk free deal. There are hundreds of 419 ‘storylines’ so I’ll just use a classic as an example:

You get an email from someone pretending to be the Bank Manager of a large bank. There’s a dormant account with 80 million USD in it. The account owner has died and left no living relatives. If you’re willing to help, the bank manager will get a lawyer friend of his to set you up with all the documents to ‘prove’ you’re the dead millionaire’s heir. They’ll then transfer the cash into an account you’ve set up, and you get to keep 25% of it for your trouble. Oh, and just in case you need a little more convincing (Direct quote) “If this money is not claimed it will be used by corrupt officials to further the war in Africa and across the world.”

Wow, all you have to do is give them an account number to transfer the money into, and you’ll get 20 million, and stop terrorism and war in the process! Where do I sign up?

This is the standard script, only sometimes the money is being smuggled out of the country because some corrupt government murdered a guy and the widow wants to escape persecution with the cash, or corrupt bankers are demanding a bribe to release the cash, etc, etc. The main point is that there’s lots of money, and with a little effort from you, a large portion of it can be yours.

(As an aside, some of these scams are truly evil. People have been scammed out of thousands while trying to adopt a fictitious child whose mother died of AIDs/was murdered etc).

So how do they get cash out of you?

Well, this is where the ‘advance fee’ comes in. Once you’ve been hooked, you’re informed of a last minute snag. Those papers you need are going to cost money and you’re contacted by the lawyer explaining you need to send them anywhere from $500 - $5000 dollars to get them.

Well, why can’t they spend this cash? Oh, well you see, the papers cost $10,000 and they’ve already put $5000 to it. They can’t afford any more right now, so you have to make up the difference. After all, it’s not too much to ask when they’re going to be giving you 20 million, is it?

So, you send them the cash (usually by Western Union). Then, once that ‘snag’ has been overcome, they just keep bleeding you. Every time you make a little progress there’s another hurdle. Paid for the lawyer’s docs? Now you need a transfer certificate. Paid for the certificate? Now the corrupt bankers want a bribe to release it. Paid the bribe? Well now the security company that are transporting the cash need paying.

Basically, the idea is to get as much money as possible, and almost paradoxically, the more the mark pays, the more he is likely to pay. It makes the mark feel like he can’t afford to stop handing over cash. By this point, he’s likely sold his car, his house and got multiple loans from banks and friends. Unless he keeps forking over cash, the ‘deal’ will go south and he’ll be out all that cash with nothing to show for it.

In short, if he pays this ‘last’ amount, he’ll get his millions, and everything will be fine. If he doesn’t, he’s totally screwed.

A classic part of this scam is that eventually they’ll ask you to fly out to Nigeria to collect the cash. Finally! It’s payday!

The mark arrives, and is shown two huge lock boxes and are given a glimpse of the cash, but guess what? The security company won’t release them until ‘unpaid fees’ are collected. So you give them yet more money.

Then you get the boxes but find that they have been marked by the bank for ‘security’. Your scammer is ‘devastated’. The money is unspendable in its current condition. The money looks like little black pieces of paper.

Your contact has an idea; he asks you for $500, leaves and when he returns a day or so later he shows you a bottle of ‘secret chemical’ used by the bank to dissolve the marks. He even shows you how it works.

He takes a bill, washes it in the ‘chemical’ and the black stuff comes off! He even gives you the note, and tells you that you can take it to the bank to check it’s genuine.

Of course, that bill is genuine, it’s the other 50,000 pieces of black paper in the box that are worthless! Basically, that note is a regular bank note covered in a highly washable ink. The ‘secret chemical’ is actually water.

Then comes the next sting. To get enough chemical to wash the currency is going to take another $50,000. Your 50 grand to be precise.

If you can raise the cash to buy this, you’re taken to where the money is held and an ‘associate’ goes off the wash the money while you celebrate…when suddenly there’s an explosion! You investigate and find your associate on the ground with a badly burned hand! The chemical exploded.

Uh-oh, now you have to buy more.

Of course, the truth is that from the start, there’s never been any money. If you’re lucky, once your cash has completely run out, they won’t kidnap you and hold you for ransom.

In short, whatever the scam, whether you’ve won a lottery, are ‘liberating’ cash from a corrupt government, or paying fees to adopt a poor third world orphan, the script is the same. They offer you money, but you have to pay them money to get it. Once they get their original score, they just bleed you dry for as long as possible.

Now many people ask who could be stupid enough to fall for a scam like this. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. If you can mass mail your original scam letter to a few million people, chances are someone is going to fall for it.

Also, not all scams are this complex, and many scams don’t offer you cash at all.

For example, there’s a scam going around about orphans in third world countries. You’re sent a letter asking for help, a letter that has links to official (real) websites about natural disasters etc. You’re asked for a donation and given an email to contact if you are interested in adopting one of these orphans.

Of course, these people have nothing to do with any charity. If you contact them about adopting one of these poor orphans, you’re contacted, charged out the ass for fees, admin costs etc…then they run with your money. For example, there have been plenty of fake charities and scams where people donate money thinking they’re helping the recent hurricane victims in New Orleans.

Look at it this way, if you got an email asking you to send some cash via paypal for a charity…would you think twice or instantly suspect the charity was fake?

In short, these people are scum, the lowest of the low. They make money by fooling people, a lot of the time by fooling people into thinking they are doing a lot of good.

This is where 419eater comes in.

This site is run by a guy who has made it his hobby to screw with these scammers as much as possible.

Now, if you’ve ever received one of these scam emails, there’s a chance you’ve screwed with them a little bit yourself. You tell them you’re interested, you build up their hopes…and then tell them to go screw themselves.

This guy has it down to an artform. Some of the hoops he makes these guys jump through is amazing.

Here are some of my favorites of his anti-scams:

Pretending to be the rich Art Dealer: He tells the scammer that he can’t help with that project, but if he knows of any local artists who would like to apply for a ‘grant’ to contact him. He then has these fools sending him ‘example artwork’ at their own expense. One scammer (Who wrote from the same IP address the scam email came from, claiming to have heard of the program ‘on the internet’, despite the fact this fake program isn’t mentioned anywhere on the internet) replied and sent two really bad carvings at a cost of $250 dollars.

He also got one guy to carve a replica Commodore 64, I’d like to buy that from the guy.

Another is pretending to work for a hand-writing recognition research company, using the same MO as the Art scam. In one, he actually managed to get a scammer to write out ‘Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone’ by hand…and has the emails and scans to prove it. He’s also had scammer spending weeks copying street maps by hand.

My personal favorite is the “Church of the Tattooed Saint’ scam. In this one, after a scammer has contacted him with a standard 419 scam, he states that he’s a Priest in the ‘Church of the Tattooed Saint’. If the scammer joins the church, He’ll be awarded a sum of $20,000 to help build a church and inform more people about the church of the Tattooed Saint.

Of course, the scammer starts slavering at the mouth. He has a perfect opportunity to scam a church out of lots of cash. Unfortunately, to join the ‘church’, you have to have the church’s logo tattooed on your body…and supply pictures of the tattoo and the actual tattoo being done to qualify.

That’s right, he has the scammers tattoo themselves with “Baited By Shiver’ (The guy’s screen name is ‘Shivermetimbers’).

Now, at this point people may think he’s going a bit to far. Scamming someone into tattooing themselves?

Well bear in mind what he says on his site. These guys have scammed people out of millions of dollars. While it may seem a little mean to make a guy get a tattoo that basically says “I’m an idiot.”…bear this in mind. The only reason this guy got the tattoo is because he thinks he’s currently scamming a church out of twenty thousand dollars!

Another great one, by a different scam baiter, sends emails to known scammers, pretending the email reached them accidentally. He pretends to work for ‘Ass Clown Football Club’, a Football club that donates large sums of cash and equipment to needy African football teams. His mails usually read something like:

“Dear Mr. Odeki,

Your money is ready for release, just send back those forms as soon as possible and our donation of $20,000 to your football club will go through”

The scammer replies, pretending to be the other guy who the fake email was ‘really’ intended for. He asks for more copies of the form, fills them in, and sends the required picture for the newsletter (Himself and his team all holding the teams logo, which just happens to be ‘Ass Clown’)

This guy has even got these scammers to drop their passports at the British Embassy in Nigeria, care of a fake name.

Think about this. A scammer who thinks he’s about to screw a real, struggling and deserving football team out of twenty thousand dollars, traveling a few hundred miles to an embassy, giving away their passports (which inevitably get lost or sent to England), then going to the trouble of finding 14 other people to have their picture taken holding a sign saying ass-clown…usually fellow scammers who are helping out for a cut of the profits.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it.

Now, you may feel a little guilty when you visit Some of the shit he puts these people through is degrading, evil and downright mean. However, bear in mind that the people he does this to are people who deserve it. The only reason these people do all this stuff and get put through all this, is because they believe that they are currently screwing the anti-scammer out of a lot of cash.

It’s simple. If they weren’t trying to scam the guy out of cash, they wouldn’t be falling for his tricks. Feeling sorry for these people is like feeling sorry for a burglar who gets mauled by a guard dog. If he didn’t break in in the first place, the dog wouldn’t have attacked him.

Anyway, I’d better explain the attached picture at the top of this post.

This is a ‘trophy picture’. Like the tattoo anti-scam, these scambaiters like to get pictures of their scammer in ridiculous poses or holding a sign with a stupid comment. They get these by demanding a picture of the scammer to ‘see who they are dealing with’, or to make sure the scammer’s picture matches the picture in the scammers (obviously made up) passport.

In the above picture, the scambaiter told the scammer that his lawyer had demanded a picture, and requested one so ‘out there’, that the scammer wouldn’t be able to just find a picture off the internet. So he got a guy crouching, holding an umbrella, with a sign that says “It’s Raining Men”.

It’s amazing how stupid these scammers can be.

Check out….even if it’s only to check out the trophy picture gallery.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How To Lose A Nipple In 1.26 Seconds.

We have an alarm on our front door. An alarm that in the past year has been armed maybe twice.

Last night, I started to put the cats out, and knowing their penchant for running the ‘kitty relay’, where one darts back into the house while you’re putting the other out (repeat ad-nauseum), I approached the door with the smaller of the two cats hanging like a limp rag-doll in my right hand, and had the heavier of the two cats in the crook of my right arm.

My reasoning was simple. Rather than spend an hour running the kitty relay, I’d simply open the door, drop the cats, close the door.

Unfortunately, despite the fact the alarm has been left unarmed for over 9 months, last night my darling wife decided to arm it before going to bed.

Have you any idea what happens when two pissed off, but otherwise serene cats are suddenly subjected to an unexpected 130 decibel electronic squeal?

It’s a kitty explosion of fur, claws and teeth. They don’t know what that sound is, but they want away from it as soon as possible…and if that involves tearing flesh, all the better.

The alarm shocked me also, so my instinct was to instantly tighten my grip, jump and pull my limbs into my body.

Padme attempted escape by clawing through my body, through the nipple and exiting near the left shoulder blade, while Princess, seeking release from my suddenly too-tight grasp decided the best course of action was to chew her way out, while scratching with her from paws, and rabbit kicking with her back ones.

Oh, and as a message to my darling wife…in the future, as well as warning me about the alarm, can you please not place your “St Ives Apricot Essence Moisturizer and Body Lotion”, (the one in the toothpaste shaped tube) right next to the toothpaste. Otherwise an unsuspecting Englishman, straight from the shower, and therefore not wearing his glasses might pick it up, put a huge blob of it on his toothbrush and put it in his mouth...again

That is all.

Natural Male Enhancement!!! Fo Realz, yo!

Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time.

So I was sitting on my couch, watching the TV guide channel (The Stargate SG1 marathon had just finished).

As usual for a Friday night there was absolutely nothing on worth watching, so I decided to write a blog. The problem was I had no idea what to blog about.

I’d gotten a reply from my congressman on the Net Neutrality issue, but I realized that that whole thing just doesn’t really interest anyone, and the people who are interested already know about it.

So, what to write about.

Then the infomercial came on.

Extenze! For ‘Natural Male Enhancement’.

Now considering this blog goes out over the internet, not a family-friendly TV network, as such I am not restrained by the FCC requirements. Therefore, I can state plainly what this product supposedly does.

It’s a pill that makes your penis bigger. (Yeah, I know I could have gotten a lot more crude and ‘plain’ than that, but just because I’m not under the FCC’s jurisdiction, doesn’t mean my Mum doesn’t read this blog).

Now, show of hands for all the guys out there. Do any of you even entertain the notion for a second that these things actually work?

Here’s what the infomercial says: You just take two pills a day with some water, and you’ll get obvious, noticeable growth within a week.

Hmm, somehow they’ve discovered a way to either re-write DNA, or create an orally taken version of the growth hormone that specifically targets a single area of the body, while leaving the rest alone.

To be completely honest, you don’t even have to look into the science of it. Considering a fair number of men are willing to undergo seriously expensive and dangerous surgery to disconnect that tendon that gives you about an extra half inch…if someone invented a tablet that could give much better results, they wouldn’t have to advertise them on TV at 1am.

There’d be queues of (insecure) men as far as the eye can see fighting each other to get their hands on one of these miracle pills. We’d also probably see a huge reduction in the number of cars as most men would be pole-vaulting to work (Now there’s a mental image, huh?)

However, the one thing that these ads really prove to me is that there are an inordinately large number of stupid people in the world. In fact, by my reckoning, truly dumb people outnumber us by about 50 to 1.

You see, there are no miracle pills, there are no exercise machines that can make you lose 50 pounds in a month with just 5 minutes of exercise a day. There are also no gadgets that can make you lose weight/learn French/increase your IQ while you sleep.

Yet these things sell by the bucket load, which means a huge number of people believe what they see on TV…that a problem that’s been around since the beginning of time can suddenly be solved with an easy, quick fix solution.

So here’s my challenge:

Anyone out there, who has ever bought something like this off TV, and it has actually worked as advertised, leave me a comment…and I don’t mean that you bought an exercise machine and actually lost a little weight. I mean you bought an exercise machine, did as it said, and ended up looking like one of the models on the ad.

So, if you’ve lost 50 lbs just by sitting in a chair with a strange device strapped to your belly, packed on 50lbs of muscle by exclusively using one of those weird elastic band things…or have indeed ‘enhanced your maleness’ by taking two pills a day and some water…let me know

Thursday, June 22, 2006

This Blog Is Becoming Fax Only. Please Fax The Number Where you Want The Faxes Sent To

Since I received my work permit last month, I’ve been frantically looking for a job…and frankly, it sucks.

I got a letter yesterday from one of the places I applied at telling me that they’d received my application, and although they didn’t feel I was the best candidate for the job this time around, they wanted to assure me that they’d reviewed my application very carefully.

Well thanks! The fact you put so much thought and effort into finding me not good enough really makes me feel better.

I mean, come on! Instead of just “Sorry, you where unsuccessful.” It’s “We got a crack team of application reviewers on the case, they went through your application with a fine-toothed comb, and decided you’re crap!”

Not just they think I’m not right for the job, they’re certain of it.

Wow, thanks for destroying my sense of self-worth fellas! Nice to know those 5 years of further education really paid off!

It’s annoying, because up to now I very rarely didn’t get an interview for a job I applied for, and I have never interviewed for a job and not gotten it.

I also want to know why many employers make it as difficult as possible for you to actually apply. It’s like they try to make just getting in contact the first test:

Please submit all applications on fresh papyrus, written in Swahili, in a virgin albino stoat’s blood. Applications will only be accepted if they are hand delivered by a band of highly-trained, nymphomaniac valkyries…when the moon is in the sixth house, not the third, repeat not the third. People with butts for eyes who poop to see given priority.

Ok, I admit that I’m exaggerating a little, but up to now, applying for a job went one of three ways.

  1. Walk into a business cold and ask to see the manager.

  2. Call them up and request an application form.

  3. Send a resume by email or through the post and wait for a reply.

Now the standard steps are: Email your resume. Get a phone call that directs you to a website. Find the website. Navigate through the most user-unfriendly and clunky website on the face of the earth. Download a non-fillable PDF file of a job application form that asks for exactly the same information that’s on your resume. Print it out. Fill it in. Send it off. Get a letter back assuring you that while you were not selected this time, they where very careful in ascertaining your uselessness.

However, the worst offenders are fax-only applications.

You see, on job posting websites, there are a few jobs that simply have an ‘apply now’ button. You click it, attach your resume, and you’re done.

So, when this is possible, why do a shit-load of businesses only supply a fax number as their contact information?

Seriously, how many homes in this day and age, have a fax machine?

Fax machines are simply an outdated technology. They’re old. They’re slow, they’re crap! They’re email’s granddad (with Alzheimer’s). Faxes are to email what my AMD 64 is to a Sinclair ZX-81.

Why? I mean, My God, for all that is pure and decent, why?!?

Now I know a lot of businesses have fax machines because they need to receive a lot of signed paperwork quickly. I understand that as slow as regular mail is, faxing is faster. So for inter-business communication…fair enough. But a job application?

For example, a business could set up an email address and ask all applicants to email their resumes to it. Then someone simply has to sit in front of the computer, has every resume in alphabetical order, and can review them. If an applicant’s resume doesn’t get through, it gets bounced back so he can send another one. When they’re assigning interviews, write two emails, one asking them to come in for an interview, another telling them that you’ve very carefully decided they’re about as much use as a horny dog at a Miss Lovely-legs competition…two clicks, and everyone’s informed.

Instead they choose to use the fax, so they get a stack of paper, mixed in with all the other faxes. Some didn’t get through, and neither side will ever know. Then someone has to spend a few hours sorting manually through them…not forgetting that most people simply don’t have access to a fax machine!

You can probably guess where I’m going with this.

Yesterday, I found a job that I was qualified for, could do and was close enough for me to actually get to.

You guessed it, fax only.

I remembered receiving an email though one of the job-post websites offering to give me 2 free faxes that I can send over the internet, to try out their service. Stupidly, I tried it.

Of course, ten minutes later I discover that ‘free’ means ‘send us lots of money, sign a contract which forces you to subscribe to our service for at least a year, and then we’ll let you send your first two faxes free!’

Then something stirred in the deep dark recesses of my mind. Couldn’t you send a fax through your dial-up modem with a windows app?

I found and installed the app, then tried to plug the phone line into my modem.

Guess what? A 4 foot phone cord won’t stretch about 12 feet across the room.

In the end, I had a sort of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab set up where I had the phoneline, phone and answering machine doing a sort of freak outdated-technology relay across my living room. Surprisingly, it worked and I got a dial tone.

I wrote my cover letter, pasted my resume and tried to send it.

Then I heard:

beeeep beeeeep boooop! You do not need to include the prefix one or zero to reach this number. Please hang up and try again. Beeeep beeeeeep booop! You do not need…”

What the hell?!?!? I know I don’t need to include the number one, but winfax puts it in automatically, and you obviously know where I want my call to go, so why don’t you just connect it?

I mean, is it just me, or is this the equivalent of me sending a letter to someone in the same town as me, but putting ‘United States of America’ under the zipcode…then getting the letter back with a note that says “You don’t need to write USA, we know that’s where you want it to go…so send it again in an envelope without USA on it.”


Of course, I try to send it again, this time without the ‘dialing rules’ that automatically but the ‘1’ prefix…only this time Windows ‘helpfully’ recognizes the number and puts the prefix in anyway.

So I create a whole new ‘address’, under a different name, with the phone number.

Guess what?

“This number already exists in your address book.”


Anyway, in the end, I managed to get the thing sent. Of course, unlike email, I have no idea if it actually arrived, maybe the fax machine was out of paper, maybe it got lost, maybe it didn’t go through properly.

For the amount of time it took me to send off this application, I might as well have just walked and delivered it by hand…but I can imagine the response I’d get:

“Sorry, we’re only accepting resumes by fax.”


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Product placement

Product placement.

We all know what that it. At it’s most subtle, TV mom pulls a can out of the fridge and sets it on the table, and if you’re quick and observant enough, you can just make out that it’s a can of Pepsi.

At it’s most blatant, TV mom says “Damn, I need a PEPSI! I love PEPSI! PEPSI is great!” Opens the can, making sure her fingers don’t block the logo, takes a good long drink and says: “Ahhhhhhhh! PEPSI!”

Now, I don’t know the deal in America, but in England, there’s laws against this kind of thing. I don’t mean British TV is completely product-placement free, but anything too blatant, and the show producers get fined.

I can forgive product placement on TV. Ads pay for the shows. In simplest terms, the only reason they have any entertainment on TV is to encourage us to watch the ads.

However, I’ve noticed a slightly disturbing trend for product placement in video games.

Take Splinter Cell : Chaos Theory for example.

In the opening cut scene, Sam Fisher, riding in his helicopter pulls out a pack of gum. You clearly see the ‘Airwaves’ logo. Later in the game, we see a Chinese skyline, and what’s that slap bang on one of the lit-up billboards? Why, an advertisement for Airwaves chewing gum!

Again, I can forgive product placement to this level (although pointlessly showing Sam obviously enjoying a nice piece of airwaves gum is pushing it).

Basically, showing a location such as Times Square in a game is going to show a lot of billboards. Rather than make up fictional companies, charging a few real life companies to have their real ads in games, it doesn’t detract from the experience.

However, Splinter Cell takes things far too far.

About three quarters of the computers in the game (the ones you have to hack), have pictures of Nokia hardware (complete with the Nokia hardware) on the screen. Why? Why would a fictional in-game mercenary organization choose to have nokia advertisements as their screensavers?

I’d like to point out that this is fine when the advertisement is for a company directly involved or at least relating to the production of the game. For example, ‘The Matrix: Path of Neo’, was designed and tested on Nvidia graphics hardware. Neo is supposed to be working for a software development company at the beginning of the movie, so the few “Nvidia : The way it’s meant to be played” posters scattered around the first level are forgivable.

In other words, when a company like AMD says to Ubisoft: “Hey, we’ll give you a few PC’s with the latest AMD 64bit processors to help you develop this game…in return, just slap a few AMD posters on in-game walls.” That’s fine. When a company like Airwaves chewing gum realizes that Sam Fisher is a popular gaming icon a gives Ubisoft a large wad of cash to show Sam Fisher eating their gum in game…for absolutely no in-game reason…it’s annoying as hell.

However, I’ve saved the worst for last.

I was playing a mission where I was infiltrating a shady ‘security’ company’s corporate offices. Now, as you sneak around, you often overhear snippets of conversation that give you clues as to what’s going on and where to go next. Usually, it goes something like:

“Have the security cameras on the third floor been fixed yet?”

“Yeah, they’ve been upgraded with infra-red lamps so they can see in the dark.”

Great, now I know that taking out the lights on the third floor isn’t going to blind the cameras, meaning I still have to avoid them.

However, I was hiding in the shadows and I overheard the following:

“Hey, where’s Steve?”

“Oh, he’s locked in his office, you know what he’s like for those computer games.”

“He’ll never be as good as me! Hey, have you played the new ‘Prince of Persia’ game yet?”

“No, but I’ve heard it’s good.”

“Good? It’s absolutely awesome. Game of the year, I guarantee it!”

Prince of Persia…another Ubisoft game.

Now, you may wonder why this bothers me so much.

Two reasons: One, obvious ‘real-world’ advertising takes you out of the moment and can really ruin a good experience.

Two, and this is the big one…I’ve just paid $40 for a video game. Why should I have to put up with advertisements every few seconds? Feel free to put a ‘New from Ubisoft’ selection of videos and links on the game’s DVD…just keep it out of the game.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Government Agencies : The Same The World Over.

Before I begin, quick update on the new kittens.

Momma-cat is fully recovered from childbirth and is actually acting like a mother now, and taking care of the kitten. In fact, maybe taking a little too-good care. The kitten has drank so much of her milk over the past 24 hours, he looks like he’s swallowed a beach-ball.


Well, I went to the Employment Service today, something I was not looking forward to. It’s depressing to go look for a job, surrounded by people who are actually doing my old job. Plus, I was already registered on their website, and look through their job listings regularly. I just didn’t see the point in traveling all the way to Liberty, to do something I can do at home.

Anyway, I figured actually talking to a job counselor might actually help as they might give me a suggestion I hadn’t thought of.

By the way, they didn’t. They just kinda directed me to the computers.

Speaking of computers, it was nice to see that some things are the same the world over. The room was absolutely stuffed with top-of-the-line computers…yet the actual job search engine was an old legacy system.

It was almost identical to the system I used to use for processing unemployment claims in my last job. A system obviously designed to be housed on a mainframe, and accessed by dumb terminals.

It’s this kind of bureaucracy that always drives me mad. The people doing the actual job complain to their superiors that their system is really old, clunky, hard to use and slow. This gets passed up the line, and they simply keep installing new computers. After all, newer computer = better faster system, right?


To the non-computer literate, it’s the equivalent of complaining that the roads are old, full of pot-holes and little more than bumpy dirt tracks, and every time you complain, the DMV gives you a newer and faster car as a ‘solution’. Yeah, you might have a shiny new Lamborghini Diablo in the garage, but when the roads are in such bad shape you can only do 5mph, it’s not going to help you much.

All this reminded me of an incident at my last job.

We had a simple problem. There weren’t enough parking spaces at the building I worked in. The locals were complaining because people who couldn’t get a space were parking in their streets and blocking them in, etc.

Now, like any government service, they were unwilling to actually spend any money, no matter how necessary the expenditure was. For two years, they had weekly meetings, asking for possible solutions. (Some great advice given to us was to ‘arrive earlier when the car park was empty’. Somehow, this would magically reduce the number of cars).

Well, when I knew I was leaving and didn’t have to worry about keeping my job, I sent the following email to our big boss:

Let x equal the number of cars.

Let y equal the number of spaces.

To rectify the problem, we need to arrive at the following equation

y = (OR) > x

Basically y must be equal to or greater than x in order to solve this problem

As of now y < x.

In short, the number of parking spaces is smaller than the number of cars.

Therefore, in order to solve this problem, y must be increased to a quantity equal to or greater than x.

I could have stated this solution much more simply. I could have said “The only way to solve this problem is to increase the number of parking spaces, as it is impossible to reduce the number of cars enough to where there will be enough spaces.” I could also point out that there is a large area of scrubland adjacent to the office building that could be quickly and easily turned into an over-spill parking lot.

However, after two years of meetings, memos and emails asking for suggestions on this problem, and that fact that within these two years you have found it impossible to grasp the solution to this problem, I thought that if I made it sound as complicated as possible, something might get through.

In short, buy the land, or forget about the meetings, because having to talk about this problem every week for two years is driving us all mad. It’s obvious talking about this problem isn’t going to solve it, so can we please drop the charade? We know you’re not going to spend any money, so we’d appreciate it if you’d stop forcing us to waste time in order to pay lip service to us.

Many Thanks


I didn’t actually tell anyone I worked with that I’d sent that email (The idea was, it didn’t matter if I pissed anyone off, I’d be gone by the end of the week anyway. If it got around that anyone else was involved, at the time we were striking over the terrible pay we were getting and they were actively looking for reasons to fire people.)

Unfortunately, I never heard anything about it, so it obviously never got back to the office.

Seems I touched a nerve, and they didn’t have an answer for me.

While the problem remains to this day unsolved, I get a sort of perverse satisfaction that they never replied.

I Have Animal Attraction

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Yesterday morning I woke up, drank a cup of coffee, checked the email then put my sneakers on for my morning run (What can I say, I recently got on a health kick.)

That run was not to be, however.

I opened the front door, and looked down.

My first impression was that Padme had been hunting and had left me three big fat presents. They looked like rats. Big fat rats.

I tried to clean them up, then one said “Meow.”


Every pet I own is adopted. Buddy turned up at our front door. Padme was one of a litter of kittens that were ‘deposited’ at my son in law’s house…the same batch of kittens that decided my son-in-law’s car’s wheel wells where a great place to sleep. Padme was the only survivor.

Even the gold fish where refugees from when my Mother-in-law decided to fill in her small pond to make a vegetable garden.

Now I have three newborn kittens at my front door…no sign of the mother. Oh, and these kittens were so young that one of them was still attached to the placenta.

Now, I want to make something clear here. I’m not ‘crazy-cat-person’. We live out in the country, so encouraging a few cats to hang around is actually a good thing. They keep the mouse population down. Feeding them once or twice a week keeps them around, or at least coming back…and also keeps them hungry and hunting.

Plus, people call me soft when it comes to animals…but to me, bringing the kittens inside, or leaving them out on the porch to die in the heat…that’s no choice.

Then I spotted the mother. It was Princess, one of the strays that uses our front porch as a holiday home. She was sitting in wood chips, a few feet away. I think when I’d let Buddy out that morning, He’d disturbed her.

So I lined a cardboard box with an old towel, put the kittens and Princess inside, and brought them into the house.

Unfortunately, one of the kittens died a few hours later, and another one died that night. It seemed Princess was a neglectful mother. She kept lying on the kittens, smothering them. She was pushing them away when they tried to feed…not exactly the poster-cat for motherhood.

It was only this morning when I realized what was going on.

I hadn’t seen Princess in a couple of weeks. She’d obviously not eaten in a long time. She was also completely exhausted and wiped out from childbirth. It was also obviously her first litter, so she had pretty much no clue what was going on. She was also so dehydrated that she wasn’t actually producing milk.

Unfortunately, we were out of cat food, so I spotted the can of salmon that had been sitting in out cupboard for a few months. I gave her some of that and a saucer of milk.

She slept for 25 hours straight. The next morning when I let her out, I was afraid she’d run off and we wouldn’t see her again. (Just in case, I’d looked up how to care for newborn kittens on the internet. If I had to, it involved feeding them by hand every two hours…around the clock. Nothing I was looking forward to, but I just couldn’t have the death of a newborn kitten on my conscience).

Luckily, after the food, water, milk and the 25 hours sleep she’d recovered and came to her senses. I was relieved as hell when I actually saw her jump back into the box and start cleaning and feeding the kitten.

Anyway, mother and baby are doing well, and I’m thinking of naming the kitten Pippin…because he looks like a Hobbit and never stops eating.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Now That's Hilarious!

In many of my posts about the current video-game controversy, I’ve commented on how history repeats itself, and how every generation believes that the following generation’s dominant form of entertainment is evil, will lead to a breakdown in morals and spells the end of civilization as we know it.

Well, while doing a little surfing on yesterday, I came across this little gem. I thought I’d share it with you. It’s essentially quotes denouncing all the other things that were going to ruin civilization.

It’s funny as hell.


"The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?"

  • Reverend Enos Hitchcock, Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, 1790

The Waltz

"The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced ... at the English Court on Friday last ... It is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies ... to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is ... forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion."

  • The Times of London, 1816


"This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhood ... Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result. The Society has prosecuted many for leading girls astray through these picture shows, but GOD alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the 'moving pictures.'"

  • The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1909

The Telephone

"Does the telephone make men more active or more lazy? Does [it] break up home life and the old practice of visiting friends?"

  • Survey conducted by the Knights of Columbus Adult Education Committee, San Francisco Bay Area, 1926

Comic Books

"Many adults think that the crimes described in comic books are so far removed from the child's life that for children they are merely something imaginative or fantastic. But we have found this to be a great error. Comic books and life are connected. A bank robbery is easily translated into the rifling of a candy store. Delinquencies formerly restricted to adults are increasingly committed by young people and children ... All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic-book readers This kind of thing is not good mental nourishment for children!"

  • Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954

Rock and Roll

"The effect of rock and roll on young people, is to turn them into devil worshippers; to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness; impair nervous stability and destroy the sanctity of marriage. It is an evil influence on the youth of our country."

  • Minister Albert Carter, 1956


"The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it's making the difficult job of being a parent even harder ... I believe that the ability of our children to access pornographic and outrageously violent material on video games rated for adults is spiraling out of control."

  • US senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2005

So there you have it. Reading a Novel, visiting the theatre will ‘poison your mind’. Waltzing is a ‘fatal contagion’ for young women. Movies ‘blast maidenhood’. Comics will turn your child into a bank robber…and Rock and Roll actually turns you into a Devil Worshipper. Oh, and my personal favorite, telephones lead to the break up of home life and the practice of ‘visiting friends’. That’s right, the most important communications breakthrough of all time actually drives a wedge between people.

When you consider that today if your son or daughter came home from school, read a book, told you he/she wanted to go to the theatre that weekend and was interested in taking a dance class…before heading upstairs to listen to a bit of Jazz, Elvis Presley or The Beatles…you’d pride yourself on what a mature and cultured child you’d raised.

However, the saddest thing about this is that in another couple hundred years, someone else will be writing pretty much this exact same post about how in 2006 we where so against video games and how laughable that is…and using that context to point out how stupid the current controversy about anti-gravity hover-bikes is.

Sometimes I feel like we’re just repeating the same fifty years, over and over.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Gay Marriage

Gay marriage.

What do you think?

Personally, I find it very hard to get worked up about.

Unfortunately, I think I am one of the few people on the planet that doesn’t think it’s the beginnings of the complete and total decay of morals and western society.

Here’s why I don’t understand:

There are x number of gay people in the world today. If gay marriage is made universally legal tomorrow, there will still be x number of gay people in the world. What do these nay-sayers expect? That suddenly being gay will become fashionable? That the world will suddenly be flooded with gays, being heterosexual will become a ‘minority’?

Also, I completely fail to see what being gay has to do with morality. Let’s define gay as “Liking members of the same sex.” What exactly is wrong with that?

Well, they have sex! Oh my God! They can’t reproduce, but they have sex anyway! That’s immoral!

Hate to be the one to point this out, but why do people buy condoms? So they can have sex without reproducing. If that’s what makes being gay wrong, who can honestly say they’ve never had sex purely for enjoyment?

Basically, if you have two children and have had sex more than twice, you’re just as guilty of ‘immorality’ as gay people are.

Sex is also a means of expressing your love for someone.

That’s the thing people leave out of the gay ‘equation’. Love. To a lot of people gay is immoral hedonism.

Well, just like above, heterosexuals are just as guilty of ‘immoral hedonism’. Go to a night club, I doubt that most of the people there are looking for a long-term, meaningful relationship.

The other big sticking point is ‘gay adoption’. It’s wrong, it’s immoral. Two men or two women shouldn’t be allowed to raise a child!

To a point, I agree. All children should have the perfect nuclear family. A mother, a father and a couple of brothers and sisters.

However, in the real world, that isn’t always possible.

Over 50% of marriages fail. That’s a fact. This means that around half of all children alive today don’t have the ‘prefect nuclear family’. They’re raised by a single parent.

Should the children be removed from these relationships? When we get married, should we be forced to sign an completely unbreakable contract that says you have to stay together forever? If a couple get divorces, and the wife goes to live with her mother…should the children be taken into care, because he or she is being raised by a mother and grandmother, instead of a mother and father?

If this was the case, there would be outage that this would be a breach of our human rights…so why are we so hell bent on denying others these rights?

If we look at marriage, it consists of two main features. The first is the legal right to stand up in front of your friends and family, and claim another person as your partner. A formal declaration of your love for another person.

Now, this is important, but I don’t think it’s the most important thing to gay people in fighting for gay marriage.

The second is the legal side. When you marry someone, you give each other certain rights. For example, when I married Sunny she became my next of kin. This means that if I’m ever really sick, she is the one who is consulted about my treatment. If I die, she inherits everything I own.

This is the thing that we take for granted, that gay people are denied. How would you feel if you’d spent 50 years with someone, and then you suddenly find you have absolutely no rights or say in what happens to them if they get sick?

It all comes back to simple homophobia. We fear what we don’t understand.

I’m going to end today with a true story of something that happened to me.

When I was in school, I was as homophobic as they come. I had the typical pre-teen attitude. Being gay was wrong, AIDS was a homosexual disease. You name the stereotype, and I believed it.

Then, when I got into college, one of my best friends came out as gay.

That made me think. I’d been friends with this guy for over ten years. Was I willing to end a decade-long friendship, just because I found out my best friend liked men instead of women.

The answer is, no I wasn’t. He was the same person on the day he came out as the day I met him. What he chose to do in the privacy of his own home was up to him.

You see, when someone you know turns out to be gay, you realize just how stupid the homophobic arguments are. You can’t ‘catch’ gay, and assuming that every single gay man will try to have sex with you is as stupid as assuming that every single woman on the planet is just dying to jump into bed with you.

Basically, this whole issue is ridiculous, and has gathered far more homophobic outrage and hype than it deserves.

The truth is, if gay marriage was made universally legal tomorrow, the straight community would hardly notice. The only thing that would change would be a name. Simply change the word ‘couple’ for ‘marriage’. Wow, what a world-shattering change!

You see, I hate to burst any bubbles, but there aren’t millions of straight people just champing at the bit, waiting for gay marriage to be legalized, so they can rush out and find a same-sex partner.

No, what we have is a number of gay couples who already live together as ‘man and wife’, who simply want to have the same legal protection and rights that the straight community already takes for granted.


As if Intelligent Design Wasn't Enough.


I’d just finally managed to stop bitching about the intelligent design thing, and then the church craps on my breakfast again.

I mean they do everything they can to denounce the science of Biology…now they’ve moved on to physics.

According to the Northwest Florida Daily News (Link to the article at the end of the post), Stephen Hawking, quite possibly one of the most intelligent human beings on the planet, was asked by Pope John Paul II to not study the beginning of time, because that was the ‘work of God’.

The whole quote is:

"It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not enquire into the beginning itself because that was the moment of creation and the work of God."

Here’s my question:


If I was the Pope, and I truly believed that God is the creator of all things, I would actively encourage the study of how the Universe began. If I truly believed, I would also believe that studying the beginning of time can only prove one thing…That God did indeed create everything.

Let me tell you, for the Church, one of the greatest scientific minds in history openly stating “God did it”, would be great for business.

Also, it’s an incredibly flimsy excuse. Why is ‘the work of God’ suddenly off limits? Isn’t reading the bible ‘studying the work of God?’

Anyway, that’s what the Pope said, but I can make an educated guess at what he was thinking:

“Look, if you actually engage your brain, the Church is already on kinda shaky ground. It’s true we’ll always have the hardcore fanatics who will instantly dismiss any discovery that goes against our teachings as the work of the devil…but if you actually discover how the universe was created, our coffers are going to get awful empty.”

Which in essence is saying: “Look, forget about science and reason, can’t you just give up your life’s work and keep the world in ignorance? It’d really help us out. The sheep won’t keep pouring money into the church if they realize the whole thing’s a complete load of bollocks.”

One part of the article I particularly enjoyed was when Hawking joked: “I was glad he didn't realize I had presented a paper at the conference suggesting how the universe began. I didn't fancy the thought of being handed over to the Inquisition like Galileo."

The article then says how in 1992, the Pope issued a declaration saying that the church's denunciation of Galileo was an error resulting from "tragic mutual incomprehension."

This I agree with.

Galileo didn’t comprehend what a vicious, self righteous and self serving organization the Catholic Church is…and the Church didn’t comprehend it’s not exactly ‘Christian’ to capture someone, suppress his work, denounce him as a heretic, and torture him for exposing a fundamental truth that disagrees with what they want to believe.

In the end, I’ll put it this way. By listening to scientists, we’ve got to where we are today. Electricity, cars, computers, sanitation, healthcare etc.

If we listened only to the church, we’d still be in the dark ages, and the prescription for any illness would be to ‘pray’…which in my opinion is like saying “Wish really hard.”

(Link to article:

Friday, June 16, 2006

An Excercise in Futility

I received a rather amusing comment on one of my previous posts today.

The ‘comment’ was for my post entitled “Halloween Costumes and Special FX”, a post where I talked about Star Wars fan films. Here’s the comment in its entirety:

“You piss on these movies but where is your movie? Oh right, I forgot, you are retarded dork that posts in blogs and sits on the internet. Maybe if I post about it on the internet, someone will care about my opinion!!!!! Less people care here than in your real life. Truth is, if you made a fan film using nothing but your own money and free time, it would suck ass. Want to know why? Because you are a fucking idiot. If I was your father I would raise you like a little donkey who likes to be anally excavated twice a day with the claw of a hammer. Your mom smells like brocolli.”

Oh, I don’t even know where to begin.

You see, I didn’t ‘piss on’ anything. Yeah, I said some fan films where terrible, but I also gave a list of fan films I though where actually very good.

Something tells me I struck a nerve. That comment has ‘frustrated fan-film maker’ written all over it. Also, since my post didn’t actually name any bad fan films, it’s the equivalent of Spielberg going off on a tirade because someone mentioned that not all films are great.

Can you imagine this in the regular media?

Guy : "I don't like American Idol"

Then David Letterman jumps out from behind a bush and screams: "Oh yeah! Well, where's YOUR show, huh? Huh? You think you know? Your Aunt blows goats and both your parents are Hunchbacked Daschunds!"

Doesn’t make much sense, does it.

However, this is something I just don’t think I’ll ever understand.

Who are these people who think it’s a really good idea to try and be offensive over the internet? I mean, what does it actually prove?

“Hey, I’m going to try to really insult someone who I don’t know, who I’ll never meet in real life, ever! And even if I do, we won’t actually know each other! HAH! I posted an insulting comment to a guy I don’t know because he stated that something I like to do wasn’t absolutely flawless! That’ll teach him!”

Well, let me just close my blog down, sell my computer and steer clear of the internet for the rest of my life. You’ve truly shamed me, Mr. Insulter. I’m eating humble pie, and it tastes bitter!


You see, if I made the same comments to someone in real life that I made in that post…the response would be something like:

“I don’t agree, I like fanfilms!”

To which I would say:

“Yeah, I like fanfilms to, but you’ve gotta admit there is a lot of crap out there.”

Chances are there would be no mention of anally raping donkeys with a claw hammer, or suggesting one’s parent has an odor familiar to a green, iron-rich vegetable. I also enjoyed how I’m a ‘dork that sits on the internet’.

Well, that wouldn’t actually happen, because my current theory is that people who do this kinda thing are the people who don’t have the self-confidence to actually disagree with people in real life. They can’t face it, so they work out all that anger and frustration with strangers on the internet…you know, the people who can’t shoot their argument down in flames, or in severe circumstances, punch them hard in the face.

Oh, and this guy even posted his comment using a fake URL as his username. This tells me that:

  1. He got a blogger account purely to insult people.

  2. He’s not even got the testicular fortitude to read replies to his insults, because he’s too afraid to even face people over the internet.

Quick hint, guy, calling someone an internet dork doesn’t really work when you’re actually using the internet to call someone that. It’s also kinda stupid to make fun of people who have blogs, when according to my stats, you spent nearly an hour here.

If blogs are so dorky, why are you reading them? Or do you just trawl the internet looking for people to work out your frustration on?

Anyway, feel free to hide behind your computer, Mr. Insulter. It doesn’t bother me one bit. In fact, I openly encourage you to post as many comments as you like, because quite frankly, your impotent rumblings are absolute comic gold.

Especially the part where you think that I actually care that some complete stranger says my mother smells like a vegetable.

Anyway, just in case that isn’t incentive enough to keep posting and keep me entertained, I see your ‘Your mom smells like brocolli’ and raise you a ‘Your mother sucks cock in hell’.

(And at least my insult has a pop-culture reference in it).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Help! I'm Being Exploited!

I was flicking through the channels of the TV this evening, and came across a documentary on VH1.

It was called something like “Hip-hop Videos : Sexploitation”

Things like this always manage to make me laugh, get me pissed and make me shout at the screen all at the same time.

Basically, this documentary is a parade of women who claim to have been ‘exploited’ by the hip-hop business, attempt to ‘expose’ how rap and hip-hop videos portray women as nothing but sexual objects, anti-feminists etc, etc, etc.

I mean, for fuck’s sake!

Look, it’s a rap video. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years you know what rap videos are like. Shots of guys wearing lots of jewelry, making hand signals at the camera, interspersed with extremely scantily-clad women shaking parts of their anatomy.

It’s like signing on to make a hardcore porn film, and then being shocked and outraged:

“I signed on to act in a film called ‘Deep Anal Divas 4’, but when I turned up on the set wearing my edible G-string, they actually expected me to have sex with people! They tried to exploit me!”

Look, rap-video ladies, you don’t even know the meaning of the word ‘exploitation’.

If someone had put a gun to your head and forced you to be in a video, that’s exploitation. If you’d signed on for a different project and found that through clever editing you’d been cast in a less than favorable and stereotypical light, that’s exploitation. If you went for a serious acting role, and found all that made it into the final cut were close-up shots of your butt and cleavage…that’s exploitation.

However, when you turn up for an audition to be in ‘MC Long-Dong’s’ latest video: “Shake your big round ass in my face and make me want it, bitch.” It should give you a little hint of what to expect.

As for Rap and Hip-Hop stars degrading women, portraying them as sex objects etc…to be honest, I couldn’t agree with you more. When the video shows the rapper in a Jacuzzi with 12 almost naked women, rapping about how he really, really likes boobs…you know that none of the males in the video are thinking just how interesting and what great personalities the women have.

However, it’s up to you whether to be in that video and endorse what the rapper is rapping about, isn’t it?

I mean, any asshole can say whatever they want.(This blog is proof of that). However, the women in rap videos, by their very presence, are saying “I agree with whatever the rapper guy is saying and support his point of view.”

…and guess what? You chose to be in that video and endorse that point of view. How is that exploitation?

Basically, like any business, Rap and Hip-Hop has its good points and its bad points. Dancing in a rap video pays extremely well, only it’s doubtful that any of the rappers have an anti-sexual harassment policy.

In the end, you weigh up the good versus the bad and make a decision. You can’t take the good, and call yourself a victim because you had to put up with the bad that you knew about going into it.

In short, if you’re a female who finds rap and hip-hop videos offensive, you have every right to complain. When you’ve starred in one or more of these videos…that’s like me going on an anti-videogame march with a PSP in my hand.

You’re essentially shouting: “I demand that you put a stop to what I’m doing!” It’s like a burglar claiming his crimes are the fault of the police, because they didn’t arrive and stop him in time.

Of course, then we come to the standard excuse, the one used for ex dancers, porn stars, thieves and conmen.

“I didn’t get a good education, I need the money, so I was forced to do it!”

One word: Bullshit.

There are billions of people all over the world who have little or no education who can’t get a good paying job. Surprisingly, very few of them choose to shake their asses in music videos. Most of them wait tables, stock shelves or work in a factory.

What this excuse actually means is: “I could have got a regular job, but I really wanted the cash that comes with being in a music video.”

You see, there’s damn good money in music videos, stripping etc, a hell of a lot more money than you’re going to earn waiting tables or stocking shelves at a supermarket. One documentary I watched about strippers showed me that a lot of these girls earned more in a week than I made in six months.

The truth is that it’s your choice.

Now, I have to be very clear here, I’m not making any moral judgements on women who choose to be in rap videos, hip-hop videos, become strippers etc.

I’ll be completely honest, if I could earn seven grand a week by putting on a pair of tight shorts and dancing in music videos, I’d do it (Of course, my wife wouldn’t let me, but considering that it’s much more likely for people to pay me to put more clothes on, I don’t think that counts).

My point is that if you choose to ‘Shake yo’ booty’ in a music video or get up on a stage and dance for men…don’t go on TV later and try to paint yourself as a victim, because, quite simply, you’re not. You just did something you regret doing, and it’s easier to blame someone else than admit responsibility for something you’re not proud of.

At the end of the day, what you’re doing is deciding if your personal feelings and point of view are worth the price that the rap and hip-hop stars are willing to pay you to be in their video. If you willingly star in an ‘exploitative’ video, you have no right to go on TV and claim the moral high ground. You’ve already proven that your ‘morals’ are up for sale…and you’ve already sold them.

Just because you regret it later, doesn’t mean you’ve been ‘exploited’.

Stupid or Sneaky...You Decide!

If three days ago you’d asked me to describe my dog, I’d have commented as follows:

“Dumb as a box of rocks, thick as a submarine door and mad as a fork lift truck.”

If you asked me today, I’d only utter a single word.


Every night, we lock Buddy in the laundry room to sleep. While he’s now completely house trained, he has a certain affinity for eating garbage.

(That’s something I don’t understand. What makes a dog look at a bag of week old trash, starting to rot and covered in old coffee grounds and think “Hmm, screw that highly nutritious dog food, now trash, that’s good eatin’!”)

In other words, if we leave him out and unattended, we get up to trash dragged through the house.

Well, anyway, Buddy doesn’t mind sleeping in the laundry room, in fact, if he gets tired he’ll wander in there and put himself to bed. However, you try and put him to bed when he’s not ready, he becomes the poster-boy for ‘passive resistance’.

You call him, he comes running…then he sees you standing by the door and slowly backs away, trying to pretend he didn’t hear you, and just happened to enter the room just as you called him. Then you get behind him and shepherd him to the door…and he’ll walk straight past it down the hallway.

Eventually, he acts like “Oh, you want me to go in here? Well why didn’t you just say so!”

Anyway, for the past few nights, I noticed that he was more than willing to go into the laundry room at bedtime. I mean he’d saunter in like he owned the place.

I thought he’d finally admitted defeat and understood that I was the boss, and he had to do as he was told.

Not so.

Let me describe out laundry room. On the one side is the door we put him to bed through. At the other end of the room is a doorway, with no door. Usually we have an old baby gate to block it off. If you walk through the doorway, you’re in our main hallway, with access to the rest of the house.

Can you guess what was missing from that doorway?

Well, last night I put him to bed and closed the door. I turned all the lights off, and headed to the bedroom. Then, I realized I was thirsty, and went to get something to drink.

Because our house is almost entirely open-plan, in the summer we have curtains up over the archway into the living room to keep the air-conditioning in. As I reached the curtains, I saw the bottom of them move.

Buddy was moseying into the living room, not a care in the world.

He saw my feet. He stopped dead. He stared at my feet for a good 20 seconds…then slowly his eyes looked upwards.

His eyes locked on mine, and I actually saw his shoulders slump in an “Awwwww, Dammit!” gesture.  

Then came the funniest part. Without breaking eye contact, he walked backwards as slowly as he could back through the curtain. I head his claws clacking on the linoleum in the laundry room.

I guess he figured if he could get back in there, I wouldn’t notice.

Then, as I put the baby gate back across the doorway…he let out a gigantic doggy sigh.

“Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Naked Women on the Internet? No!

So Sunny had left for work, and I was bored.

Looking through my drawer, I found my old sketch pad, and  decided that I hadn’t drawn anything for a while, so I decided to have a bit of practice.

(I’m terrible at drawing, so I like to practice.)

They say the hardest thing in the world to draw is the human form. Because we see people every day, if something is just slightly off, the whole drawing looks terrible.

So I visited a couple of websites that all said the same thing: “Draw from life, or copy pictures from magazines etc. Even if all you’re interested in is cartooning, you have to know the rules before you can break the rules.”

Can you tell where this is going yet?

Well, all I found on the drawing tutorial websites was just that, tutorials. Nothing to actually attempt to copy.

I did an internet search. I typed in ‘models’.

Apparently, there are millions of women out there, who apparently know me personally, and have extended me the gracious invitation to look at pictures of them having sex.

Not exactly what I was looking for. Porn sites aren’t known for their every-day ‘poses’. Yep, I could learn to draw people easily, but only bending over, or with their ankles behind their heads.

So, trying to think ahead, I tried “fashion models”

Guess what? Runway models are getting bored and moving into porn!

I tried “Clothed models”

Guess what? Models are just dying to be unclothed so they can have sex!

“Life drawing models”

One girl waited her whole life to become a model, then decided doing it with four men at once was the way to go!

Eventually, I typed ‘Non-nude models’.

Now, this led to a whole buffet of women who, despite being a little ‘shy’, love to think of all the men lusting after them. Oh, an apparently three postage stamps and a piece of dental floss counts as clothes.

Now, those pictures might have worked. There where actually one or two pictures where the girl wasn’t bent over, or thrusting certain pieces of her anatomy at the screen. However, imagine me trying to explain the bookmarks to Sunny when she found them in the ‘ole favorites bar. ‘Kinky Teen Wants Your Cock!’.

“But dear, they’re for me to practice drawing!”

(Sound of heavy object making contact with my skull)


I almost considered typing “Male model”, but to be frank, I was far too scared.

Monday, June 12, 2006


MC Etcher made a comment on my last post about how the end of net neutrality is inevitable.

I don’t think that’s true.

Here’s the thing. The only reason this bill is starting to go through is simply because the telecom people are flat out lying to congress. They’re pouring millions of dollars into fake ‘grass roots’ support groups, and distorting the truth to where net neutrality sounds like a terrible thing.

The sad truth is that most of our leaders simply don’t understand this concept, and as usual, go where the money or perceived ‘popular support’ is.

Like I said in my last post, the end of net neutrality is simply a way for the telecom companies to double-dip (In fact, considering website owners pay the telecoms, and we pay the telecoms, it’s actually triple-dipping).

However, the way they’re representing it makes it sound like net neutrality is a terrible thing for everyone.

What they’re telling congress is, in essence, this:

We’re forced to charge our customers, the average internet user, far too much. This is because the evil corporations such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo are refusing to foot the bill for their service. Their sites use a large portion of our bandwidth, and as they aren’t willing to pay us for this service, we’re forced to charge our customers extra. When we’re allowed to control exactly what passes through our networks, we can force these large corporations to pay what they owe, saving us money, savings which we can pass on to our subscribers.

Basically, the situation we have is that the people who are deciding this issue don’t actually understand it. So we have a group of people voting on an issue that they have no knowledge of, while the telecoms are feeding them lies that we, as internet users, are staunchly opposed to Net Neutrality. Add to that the sheer number of fake ‘grass-roots’ pressure groups the telecoms are funding, and Congress is being given the impression that the general feeling is that we don’t want Net Neutrality.

Add to the mix the politicians penchant for voting whichever way they believe will either get them the most funding, or keep them in office the longest, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Again, I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, but I like the internet the way it is. I like being able to visit the sites I like with no slow-down or re-directs. I like not having to pay to send an email. I like being able to buy things off the internet, and being able to find the lowest price, and not be limited to just those suppliers that are willing to pay the telecoms a bribe.

I pay $40 dollars a month for my internet service. I don’t want to end up paying twice as much for a lower grade of service, as well as having to pay subscriptions to all the sites I can currently view for free…just because the telecoms suddenly decided they aren’t making enough money.

The end of Net Neutrality is only inevitable if we don’t do something about it. The telecoms are feeding Congress lies that state we’re against Net Neutrality. The only way to battle this is to is to make it painfully obvious that the telecoms are, indeed, lying.

If your local Congressman goes into work tomorrow and finds his answering machine and email inbox stuffed with messages saying we are for Net Neutrality, they simply have to take notice.

Net Neutrality is in the best interests of every single person who uses the internet. If we let Congress know this, and that we’ll be pretty displeased about Net Neutrality ending…you’ll see their opinions change.

Through savetheinternet, over seventy five hundred thousand emails have been sent to Congress. If everyone in the blogosphere added themselves to that list, we’d number in the tens of millions…and those kinds of numbers can’t be ignored.

As in my last post, please visit and let your voice be heard. It’s the only way we can beat this.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Net Neutrality

It’s rare for me to post on here about something that I think is truly important, but today I’m going to do just that.

What does the term ‘Net Neutrality’ mean to you?

Let me explain this concept.

As of right now, it is illegal for a telecommunications company that offers internet service to give preferential treatment to any one particular website or company.

In simplest terms, whether you visit google, blogger or any other website, the telecommunications company has to treat them all in the same way. They have to provide the same level and speed of access to a website run by a 12 year old in his basement, as they do to a website owned by a billion-dollar multinational.

In case you haven’t grasped it yet, this is a good thing. It’s the reasons why people can make a hell of a lot of money selling stuff on ebay. It’s net neutrality that allows a ‘two guys in a basement’ business to compete with multinationals. It’s net neutrality that makes sure that the internet is a level playing field.

However, the telecom people want this to stop. Their idea is that because they own the actual infrastructure (basically all the hardware the internet is ‘transmitted’ across), they want the right to control exactly what information travels through their network.

At first, this doesn’t sound too terrible. They own the network, why can’t they be allowed to control exactly what information passes through it?

Well, because we’re paying them huge amounts of money for access to that information, and with hosting costs, the information provider is also paying for the privilege of putting that information on their network.

So what does this mean?

It means they’re holding the internet hostage. It means the telecom companies will have the ability to slow down, restrict or simply deny access to particular sites. (Read : Sites that aren’t lining their pockets.)

For example, the telecom companies decide that Google should have to pay them in order to be on their ‘preferred customer’ list. If Google refuses to pay this, it could mean that the next time you put Google’s address into your browser, you’re either treated to a ‘throttled service’ (In other words, everything takes much longer), or you’re simply directed to another search engine that’s paid the telecom’s ransom.

Essentially, the telecom companies don’t think they’re making enough money, so they want to double dip.

You see, we already pay for internet service. Website owners already pay to have their websites hosted.

The telecom companies are already getting paid on both ends. Now they want to charge extra, so that all those websites that are already paying them have to pay again in order for us to actually see their sites.

The best way I can describe it is this: Imagine the internet is a huge shopping mall. The store owners already pay by renting their store space from the mall owner. Also imagine that we’re charged an entrance fee just to get into that mall.

This is what the internet is like now. We pay our monthly subscription, and the site owners pay to have their site hosted.

If net neutrality ends, imagine that same scenario, only now the mall owner has security posted outside every single store. If the store owner is willing to pay the mall extra, you’re allowed in that store (In fact, you’re openly encouraged to visit that store).

However, if the store owner is unwilling or unable to pay the extra, the security guards either don’t let you in at all, only allow one person in at a time, meaning huge wait times…or what is more likely, you are frog-marched to a competing store that has paid the extra.

Oh, and that competing store’s prices are much higher, because they’re passing on the extra cost to us.

I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, but if net neutrality ends, so will the internet as we know it. Not only is this totally unfair, the website owners simply aren’t going to swallow the extra costs themselves, it’s going to be passed on to us.

Basically, if this passes, it won’t be long before you have to pay for every email you send and things like ‘pay-per-search’ search engines will become the norm.

Also, forgetting the financial costs for a moment, this also amounts to censorship. These companies want to control what we can and can’t see online.

In conclusion, since its creation the internet has stood for free and unrestricted sharing of information. This is all going to end, simply because the greedy telecom companies don’t think they’re earning enough money.

Visit and get involved.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Amendum to yesterday’s post:

Mpeg2dx.dll : It was MEEEEEEEE!!!

Yep, it turned out that the rotten file causing oblivion to crash was a dll file that came with a codec pack I recently installed. Now I can get back to Oblivion!

I’m still slightly ticked off, however.

You see, if this problem has occurred a couple of years ago, back when Microsoft didn’t assume that all their users are complete morons, I could have fixed this problem in about 15 minutes…instead of the 6 hours+ it took me to track down.

You see, back in the day, when there was an error, you used to get an actual error message.

Today you get that awfully patronizing:

“(Insert Program Title here) has encountered a problem and has had to close. Any information you were working on may have been lost. Would you like to tell Microsoft about this problem?”

Well, one, it’s bloody obvious that my program has ‘encountered an error and had to close’, I half-figured that out myself when it stopped running and threw me back to the desktop.

Two, I KNOW the ‘information I was working on may have been lost’, you see, I didn’t get a chance to save because my program fell over.

Three, and this is the part that really ticks me off “Would you like to tell Microsoft about this problem.”

Why? What are they going to do? Send someone to my house to fix it? Have a crack team of highly-trained special forces programmers work night and day to make my game work?

No, it’s going to go into a stack with the millions of other error reports that no-one is ever going to look at.

Here’s what that error message should read like:

“Your program has encountered an error and has had to close. You’re pretty much screwed if it was important. Now, we understand that you’re a moron who has trouble finding his own backside without both hands and a map, so we’re not actually going to tell you what went wrong, because let’s face it, you wouldn’t understand anyway. Instead, I’m offering to send the actual error report to Microsoft, where everyone is bright, intelligent and much better than you.”

If only…If I’d been able to see a copy of the error report, it would have told me what files where conflicting.

Like I said, a 15 second fix transformed into a 6 hour frustrationathon (It’s a word), all because Microsoft thinks everyone’s too stupid to understand a bloody error message.

(On the upside, my Oblivion character just got to level 10, and became master of the Fighter’s Guild….Shit hot.)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Six Hours of Frustration

Inside Paulius’ Computer:

Oblivion.exe : “Right…OOOH! Watch out, big troll! Oh, you want to hit him with your sword? I’ll take care of that, and…Ouch.”


Firefox : “Well, there he goes again.”
ATI Drivers : “What’s going on?”
Firefox : “He’s been falling over at random intervals the whole day.”
ATI Drivers: “Well, it’s not my fault. I’m working fine. Better than ever in fact. Look, I got upgraded two weeks ago.”
Firefox : “Oh, bloody hell. Here comes Microsoft again.”
Microsoft: “Excuse me, coming through! I need the desktop space! Now, Ahem. ‘Oblivion has encountered an error and needs to close. Any information you were working on may have been lost, would you like to tell Microsoft about this problem?’”

NOOO! I would not like to fucking tell fucking Microsoft about this fucking problem! Why the hell would I want to tell the people that had fuck all to do with the creation of this game that it’s not working?!? Here’s an idea, instead of packaging all this information up and sending it to Microsoft, why not actually tell FUCKING ME!!!”

Oblivion: “Huh? Wha? Oh, where where we? Hmm, last thing I remember was you walking into the Fighters Guild. Ok, walk to the door. Right-oh. Open it…OUCH!”


Firefox: “There he goes yet again.”
ATI : “What do you think is wrong with him? He was working fine last month when the user put nearly 30 hours into him.”
Firefox: “Yeah, strange that. Working fine one minute, crashing every few seconds the next.”
ATI: “So what has he changed?”
Firefox : “The only thing I can think of is you. He upgraded you.”
ATI : “Ah, but he already deleted me, re-installed the old drivers and that didn’t help either. That’s why I’m back…did I mention I’m version 6.5 now?”
Firefox : “Yes. Yes, you did.”
DirectX: “Yeah, he wiped and did a fresh install of me as well.
Firefox : “So what’s going on?”
ATI : “Only Microsoft knows, but he’s not telling. He thinks that only a Microsoft employee would be able to unravel the mysteries of an error report.”
Firefox : “Didn’t he used to tell the user what was going on?”
DirectX : “Yeah, but then he figured that the average PC user was far too stupid to understand him, so he decided to keep that information to himself.”
Oblivion : “Ohh, I feel a little weak. Wait a minute. What’s going on…”


Firefox: “I see that Oblivion’s been erased.”
ATI : Yeah, poor guy. Wasn’t his fault.”
Hard-Drive (Over the PA System) : “All applications. This is a stage one alert. The user has started a full de-frag cycle. Please report to your newly assigned quarters.”
Firefox : “Ahhh, Defrag, never fails.”

(Suddenly, the sector door bursts open)

Anti-virus : “Stick ‘em up scumbags! This is a raid.”
ATI : “God, do we have to go through this every time? We’re not virus infected!”
Anti-Virus: “Can never bee to careful. Move that bit! Let me look under it! AH-HA! What’s that byte doing there!”
Firefox : “Umm, that’s our .exe extension? We need that to start up.”
Anti-Virus: “Ok, but I’m watching you.”

(The door bursts open again)

Spybot : “Alright, you spyware slags! Up against the wall!”
Firefox : “Sigh. We’re not spyware either. Look, check the registry.”
Registry: “They’re right, you know. They have full authority to be here.”
Firefox : “Wait a minute! I’m being started up…Ah, very clever. He’s looking for patches. Oooh, yep, there’s one. Downloading now.”

(The oblivion patch materializes)

Patch : “Umm, hello? I’m supposed to repair Oblivion?”
Hard-Drive: “Attention new patch. Please proceed to sector 87 for Oblivion repair.”
Patch: “Right-oh. I’ll have him fixed in a jiffy.”

Oblivion : “Wha? Oh, I’m running again. Firefox? Can you keep Microsoft away from me? Right. Let’s do this again. Ok, Mr. User…Cheydinhal. Yup, I know the place. Will that be on horseback, or fast-travel? Fast travel. Ok. Look at this pretty loading screen while I build the place. Almost there…Ouch.”



Firefox : “Dark in here, isn’t it.”

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Google for you Living Room

This might be the big one.

The idea that’s going to make me millions and allow me to live in the lap of luxury for the rest of my life.

Yesterday, I spent a whole hour and a half looking for my TV remote. I set it down, didn’t leave the room, but after checking my email, it had gone. No one else was in the room with me.

As TV remotes do, it had fallen silently off the arm of the chair, slipped between the pages of a magazine, and a sufficiently thick magazine, so that when I picked up the magazine, I didn’t feel the remote inside, or notice it at all.

Also, as TV remotes do, it only chose to reveal itself exactly one minute after I stopped looking.

Now, to me, this is the most frustrating thing in the world. If you’re looking for a particular item in your messy garage, you can deal with it. You can understand why you can’t find it.

The TV remote, on the other hand, has no business getting lost. You set it down, leave the room, and when you get back, it’s inexplicably vanished. You turn the room upside down for an hour, and it still fails to show itself.

How? Why? You just set it down! After all, you didn’t actually hide it or anything. It should be there in plain sight, the only problem is… it isn’t.

So I thought I’d write a super witty post about how they should make stealth bombers out of the same material they make remotes out of. I also wanted to know why my phone has a ‘locate’ button (you press a button on the base unit, and the handset bleeps), but my remote, a device more likely to go missing, a device that doesn’t regularly make noise, doesn’t.

Instead, I came up with a business plan.

Ever heard of an internet search engine?

Well, say hello to “English Paul’s HOME Search Engine”!

Next time you lose your TV remote, or can’t find that other shoe or the book you’ve been saving to read today, and you just know you’re in for a couple of hours of pure frustration, simply call your local branch of English Paul’s Home Search Engine, and state your search query. For example:

+”TV Remote” –“The one without the batteries in”

Within minutes, our highly trained professionals will arrive at your house, and while you enjoy a complimentary beverage, they’ll find the remote for you!

(We also guarantee that no-one will ask you “Where did you last have it?”, because we know that if you knew that, you’d know where it is.)

English Paul’s : Serving you better

English Paul’s is a subsidiary of Paulius Industries Inc.