Monday, May 2, 2011

Go 419 scams

FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Federal bureau of investigation
J. Edgar Hoover building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue,
Nw Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
Attention: Fund Beneficiary,
Through our intelligence-monitoring network, wehave discovered that the transaction that the bank contacted you previously was legal.
Recently the fund has been legally approved to be paid viaIntercontinental Bank of Nigeria.
So, we, the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) Washington Dc, in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) financial department have investigated through our monitoring network noting that your transaction with the Intercontinental Bank of Nigeria islegal. You have the legitimate right to complete your transaction to claim your fund US$15, 000, 000.00 (Fifteen million United States dollars)
We just got information from theIntercontinental Bank of Nigeriaand they have loaded your US$15, 000, and 000.00 in ATM CARD and submit to the express courier service company for immediate delivery to your doorstep.
Because of so much scam going on in Nigeria. We the federal bureau of investigation decided to contact the Express Courier Service Company inNigeria for them to give us their procedures on how to sent thisParcel to you without any further complain or delay, which they did as it was stated below.
You are required to choose one from the options, which you will be able to pay and also convenient for you, for quick delivery of your parcel containing your ATM CARD and other two original back up documents.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Emotional Reticence

So, I've had a number of questions from friends and family about when exactly I will be finished with this particular time in Iraq.

I usually respond to these queries by, well, not responding at all, or at the most obfuscating any empirical answer. Although in some part this is a standard OPSEC issue, it also gets at the inherent superstition involved with being in a war zone. In addition, this inherent superstition also explains my other elements of what I call emotional reticence - my personal lack of much emotional affect, not only when I am here in Iraq, but in general over the last eight years (and, to be honest, some time before that, but that was due to a different sort of PTSD).

Although I can't say with any empirical certainty, I suspect that many soldiers experience a similar response to their own deployments. We grew up on war movies, most soldiers can quote Full Metal Jacket from memory (and most drill sergeants and privates at Basic do so at length), have seen Saving Private Ryan more times than 40 year olds have seen Star Wars, and are inherently aware of the tropes involved in these movies. As such, we know a number of things:

1) Most people who survive combat do so because of luck
2) You can cut your odds a bit through training and preparation, but at the end of the day you didn't get hit by the incoming because you just happened to choose that moment to get out of your chair.

Now, a lot of "luck" is also the Confirmation Bias, but that doesn't change the fact that soldiers believe it. And the things we believe define our universe.

Which is why you will find many soldiers following the rules on How To Survive a War Movie

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The comments are always better

than the original story. I think that one of the reasons I haven't blogged much in the past couple months is that I've just been commenting in the comments sections of articles I read instead of posting my thoughts here. There are other reasons, as well, such as a distinct lack of time and, frankly, internet access. But, I think that when news sites and opinion sites started allowing for readers to "join the conversation" they have essentially coopted a lot of the blogging which average people like me would usually do on an issue (Facebook too - it's a lot easier to just paste a link to facebook and make a snarky one-sentence comment about it).

In this instance, however, I would like to point anyone to a recent Mother Jones article about the lack of workers applying for an unskilled labor position. The comments on this story are much more amusing and interesting than the story itself, primarily because of a wonderful sidetracking series of comments in which the commenters argue over the relative merits of the words "assorted" versus "miscellaneous" as it pertains to shopping for donuts. The most interesting thing about it is that with the exception of a few choice insults, the argument is pretty well grounded in definitions, both of the words themselves, and the appopriate use of each.

This thing is freaking my out

Seriously.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Freaky freaky freaky

Octopi scare the crap out of me. They can perform complex tasks, solve problems, and draw connections (like squirting out a lightbulb in its tank at night because its lonely and wants the company when the handyman comes to fix it).

And now they can gamble...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Why are vampires getting younger?

the original Dracula was 400 something when he seduced Mina Harker, quite an age difference. (published 1897)

Anne Rice's Louis was just shy of 200 when he first appeared in print. (1976) (Lestat broke the cycle, being almost 250 when his book was published in 1983)

Stefan, the hero of the Vampire Diaries novels, was 500, (1991) but in the TV remake he has become just over 150. (2009)

The Civil War motif continued in True Blood/Southern Vampire Mysteries with Bill Compton. (published 2001)

Angel was turned in 1891, putting him just a tad over 100. (series premiere 1997)

Edward Cullen is 104 when he first seduces Bella Swan. (published 2005)

I know that statutory rape is a big deal these days, but does the difference between 100 and 500 really matter all that much? I haven't read, well, any of the books mentioned above, except for Anne Rice's, but is there some significant to the fact that the "younger" vampires were also turned into vampires when they themselves were young? Is there a verisimilitude in this "youth" (Dracula was a fully grown man when he became a vampire, and is thus allowed to be 500) when the issue of seduction of teenage girls raises its head?

The pedophilia angle was well developed in one of the best vampire books I've read in a long time, Let the Right One In, about a child vampire (sort of like a vampire version of Lolita, but in which Lolita has the power in the relationship). I won't spoil the ending of the book, but the vampire, Eli, turns out to be at least 200, and probably older, breaking the "younger vampire" cycle.

In other news, police in Michigan recently arrested a 100 year old "vampire" trying to rob a liquor store...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I knew it might happen

hedging enough with that title?

Apparently the original Codey Wilson video has been removed. I assume it has something to do with the investigation the Army has launched. What gets me about that, is that the investigation began with a complaint from LGBT activists.

As I mentioned previously, yes, there are an abundance of gay stereotypes in the video, but these are hardly uncommon stereotypes. See Will & Grace, Jeffrey, Queer as Folk, or even the new Modern Family show. And the video is so over-the-top with this imagery, it would appear obvious to any observer that the soldiers are satirizing the stereotypes, and not indulging in them.

Whatever, the video has since been reposted to a number of different accounts on youtube, so it's still out there.

Hopefully this one will last a little longer: