Sunday, August 24, 2008

Scam Spam

Sunday, the high commissioner of Nigeria, Olu Agbi, made a statement to the press that victims of Nigerian money-wiring scams are just as culpable as the conmen themselves. Agbi claimed that the victims of such schemes- which are set up through the Internet and require the victim to send money to assist with legal aid for disenfranchised nobles, medical bills for a never-met sweetheart, and myriad other strawmen for money laundering and fraud- are greedy and should be jailed. He also stated that such scams (commonly referred to by the designation of 419) have given Nigeria a bad name.(1)


That's what's done it, Mr. Agbi? Not the politically motivated murders, the multiple violent coup d'états and years of military rule, the fragmentation of the state? Definitely not the violent sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians, so intense during recent years that a newspaper article regarding the 2002 Miss World competition sparked deadly protests and forced the writer(2) to flee? Positive it's not the country's utterly abysmal human rights record, with abuses ranging from child prostitution and labor, human trafficking, and female genital mutilation? The brain drain and subsequent lack of doctors, leading to the abysmal state of national health care? The poorly managed and suffering economy? No, it's clearly all the fault of idiots for whom the Internet is a shiny castle where truth reigns and who can't tell a scam from an email from Grandmama.

Compulsively clicking "refresh," TVG

(1.) Story here:

(2.)Isioma Nkemdilim Nkiruka Daniel, a fashion writer of the publication Thisday, who moved to Norway with the help of Amnesty International to avoid the fatwa placed on her as a result of her comment to the effect that Mohammed himself would have loved the pageant and likely chosen a wife from the contestants.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Das Boob *

German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently made a fine display of some of her nation's greatest natural assets when she attended the opera Saturday.

The dress made international headlines(1) and prompted many Internet news sources to sit up and take notice. (2.)

To her credit, Merkel was surprised that anyone actually noticed, which indicates the level of "Bitch, please" that I like to hear from politicians. When questioned, she stated that her dress "shows what I am: female, healthy,and strong."

Wait, no. That was Power Girl.

Deutschland Deutschland über alles, TVG.

* I spent far too long trying to decide if this title was appropriate.
(1.) From actual newspapers!
(2.) My personal favorite being from the writer of the excellent blog Ace of Spades, who summed it up with the following: "I'd hit that like the Luftwaffe hit Madrid." Zeppelins indeed.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Really Too Perfect For Words

Before I begin the post proper, I’d like to offer up a small token of thanks to whatever higher power guides Google News. The subject of today’s post is the kind of thing this author personally delights in finding, one of those sparkling little journalistic gems that make one stop and reflect, generally sparking deep thoughts along the lines of “WTF.”

Yesterday a man on a flight to La Guardia Airport to was discovered to have smuggled a monkey onto the plane under his hat. He had originally flown from Lima, Peru, then waited for several hours in the Fort Lauderdale Airport for his connecting flight to New York. He obviously had no difficulties in neither customs nor security, making the Fort Lauderdale Airport TSA the most awe-inspiring since Dave Barry’s tale of Miami workers in Big Trouble.

The would-be children’s movie was foiled when other passengers on the flight noticed the small animal emerging from under the man’s hat and ponytail. “At first we thought it was just a really bad toupee,” one passenger (1) stated. “Then it began to wave at us, and by the time it had peed on the back of the seat we knew it was a monkey.”

Police were waiting when the plane pulled in. Officials have stated that the fist-sized primate, actually a marmoset, is very young and appears to be in good health. (2) The passenger was neither arrested nor given a citation by the Port Authority police, who handled the event.

The man was instead given a receipt for his monkey and the advice to buy a larger, more yellow hat next time.

Original story here:
(1.) Completely fictional but in the author’s mind utterly plausible
(2.) This serious statement was obtained when, after screaming that the airport was infested with “damn, dirty apes” for approximately seventeen minutes, officials finally realized that no, it was no longer all that funny.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

...Keep Digging, Watson

Great Britain’s been striking out on the espionage front lately: screw ups prior to the Iraq War include accusations of sexying-up intelligence reports and Whitehall officials’ lousy handling of the issue of invisible WMDs (1) that led to Blair’s “dodgy dossier.” Even James Bond, fictional badass supreme, can’t make it through a film or book without lousing up incredibly (after all, everyone knows his name in a business where anonymity is everything.)

All these problems have the British government wondering if perhaps it’s time to return to the basics. As part of this, spies and Whitehall officials expected to work with intelligence are now being required to attend refresher courses created by Tony Blair's former head of security and intelligence, Sir David Omand, that deal with case studies of an archeological hoax, a supposed Iraqi chemical engineer who turned out to be a “mentally unstable alcoholic” who wasn’t even in Iraq…and Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation is famous for his ability to solve seemingly perfect crimes based on very slight physical evidence and deep understanding of human nature. However, while this is certainly desirable for anyone interested in intelligence or criminology, it’s Holmes’s methodological ideology that the M15 and M16 officers are being tutored in. Drawing specifically from the text “A Scandal In Bohemia,”(2) British spies are being encouraged to follow Holmes’s advice to not "twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts".

While the new reliance on good old Sherlock may help the mental alacrity of Britain’s intel operatives, the real benefactors of this idea are Britain’s violin makers and cocaine dealers.

Same blog time, same blog channel.

Original story here:
(1)Weapons of Mass Destruction, as opposed to the more pleasant yet no less dangerous Weapons of Mass Distraction
(2)One of this writer’s favorites, not least because the chauvinistic Holmes gets his deductive ass handed to him by Irene Adler

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spring is Here

And so are the squirrels. Here, they're huge grey bastards who could very well take down a small deer unaided and give local students cause to fear walking alone after dark. The ones Nuclear Siafu has to deal with are smaller and faster, the switchblade-toting urban version. I know someone whose hatred of the "furry rats" has reached such a fever pitch that every plant in her yard is hosed down with a potent concoction of cayenne and habernero chile peppers.

Apparently in Britain the problem is worse. According to the Daily Mail,(1) a continuing battle royale rages between the southern grey squirrels and their red cousins in the north, a battle so severe that humans have taken sides. In the red-squirrel stronghold of Thackthwaithe, two former southerners were drafted into the service of their native rodents and were summarily sicced upon by the local police.

In tongue-in-cheek response to a news story claiming that southerners were releasing grey squirrels into the local woods, Mr. Colin Harrow, 64, and his wife Jenny, 59, posted a mock advertisement in their local newspaper. In it they wrote that they had recently returned from a vacation and were in possession of a crate full of grey squirrels which they would be happy to distribute to “homesick former Southerners.”

In a move that shows exactly how high the crime rate of the village must be, the police immediately zeroed in on the possible threat to their beloved fluffikins and confronted the couple at their home. The idea of squirrels being kept in crates had so upset members of the community that the Harrows had been reported for squirrel abuse. Thankfully the eager public servants were talked down and agreed to not press charges.

Mr. Harrow has been quoted as saying, "It would be laughable if it were not so sad. How do these people think we got hold of the grey squirrels in the first place - run around with a pocketful of peanuts and a lasso?” This is, of course, insane. Everybody knows you catch squirrels with Cheetos and a monkey wrench. Duh.

Viking Goddess out.

(1)Original story here:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mmm, Prison Camp

Yesterday the New York Times reported that there is currently another long-term hunger strike being carried on by the detainees at the detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to protest treatment they're receiving. (1) For those of you who haven't been paying attention since 2002, a portion of the Guantanamo Bay Navy base currently serves as a military prison and interrogation camp for people suspected of being Taliban or al-Qaeda operatives. Hunger strikes there aren't anything new, but the latest one boasts the highest number of participants to undergo the current regimen of force-feeding that the guards are using to keep the detainees from starvation and at healthy weights. Considering the role of fasting in Islamic fundamentalism, this number must surely be staggering. As there are currently around 435 detainees cooling their heels in GTMO cells, what can should we venture as an estimate for this current protest? 100 prisoners? 200? More? Try thirteen. That's right, out of all the big, bad terrorists only thirteen of them feel strongly enough about their horrible and shocking treatment to have to be forced to eat the num-nums that not only are reportedly of a similar quality to those we feed our own troops, but which also take into consideration Muslim dietary needs.

The guards at Guantanamo have been drawing global and national criticism for allegations of mistreatment and torture for a long time, especially from organizations that view the indefinite incarcerations of the detainees as a violation of civil liberties. Such accused actions include forcing the prisoners to maintain uncomfortable positions for long periods of time, sleep deprivation, and beatings. While these understandably don't sound like the most enjoyable ways to spend one's time, they bear a marked resemblance to the conditions that members of the armed forces active during the era of the Vietnam War(2) were trained to expect in the event of their being kept in a POW camp. Granted, the repetitive music was different, beatings were restricted to shoving and slaps so hard to cause head rotation, and torture methods then didn't include Harry Potter, but the similarities are there. The main difference seems to be the cells in which the detainees are kept.

According to a personal first-hand source, POW training involved spending the majority of one's time in a small, wooden box that forced the position of back against the wall, legs out and hands on thighs. The cells at GTMO are (again, according to the New York Times) 8-foot-by-10-foot cells, in which the detainees spend at least 22 hours a day. Some prisoners are kept in wire mesh cages that allow free communication with each other, while others have cells that are closed except for a window and a flap in the steel doors. Apparently the closed cells are "27 square feet larger than the old ones and have air-conditioning, nicer toilets and sinks, and a small desk anchored to the wall." They are allowed to come out to shower and exercise in small cages. Evidently there was a fenced common area where they were allowed to play soccer, but a detainee riot in May of 2006 nixed that priviledge.

The New York Times story quotes one as saying, “We are living in a dying situation.” Considering that this quote was passed on through the speaker's lawyer, I have a hard time believing that things are that bad. Clearly the detainees are unhappy guys. They. Are. In a prison. What part of this is supposed to spell Terrorist Disneyland? (3) Human rights and civil liberties for the win, but as it looks right now we're not dishing out anything we aren't prepared to take.

That's all for now.

(1) Original story here:

(2)Yes, I know it was never formally declared and was therefore technically a conflict. You knew what I meant, didn't you? Shush now.

(3) What sort of rides would that place have? Discuss.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

F*ck You, Too

One would think that, after roughly a decade of expressing myself through the art of the expletive, I would be used to the fascination people have with curse words. This is not by any means the case. I just spent the past twenty minutes breathing more cigarette smoke than air, teaching Spanish college students the fine points of swearing in English and being completely baffled by how much they relished it.

Why do we automatically gravitate towards learning the curses of a new language when we discover it? One thought is that maledictions are literally universal. Even fictional continuities have their own sets of curses: Joss Whedon’s Firefly has “gorram,” Battlestar Galactica’s “frack” has been all but embraced by those familiar with the show, and Star Wars and its outlying fictions boast a galaxy’s worth of insults and expletives. If curses were less than important in the eyes of humanity, why would writers bother to think them up? Moreover, why would so many fans bother to learn them?

One could certainly argue that knowing what pejorative bombs to drop and when is part of assimilating into any culture. After all, how can anyone hope to become a full-fledged member of the [insert nationality modifier here] community without knowing how to express oneself in traffic? Perfectly pulling off a rude hand gesture is, in a way, like executing a perfect acrobatic dive or gymnastic move: you show everyone that not only do you know precisely what you’re doing, thanks very much, but that you also do it with style. At least until the recipient of said gesture chases you down and adds their physical commentary to your own.

My theory remains that the human interest in cursing is born of social paranoia and the innate need to establish a hierarchy. Trying to speak a new language is particularly daunting because of the natural self-consciousness of the learner, and part of that is the nettling worry that the native speakers may be making fun of you. Knowing the worst words they could possibly use and not hearing them provides some degree of comfort.

In addition to this, a working knowledge of the so-called fighting words of any idiom helps establish one’s place in the social pack. This is not to say that the one who can curse the best (or worst) deserves some kind of award. However, cursing does give the impression that a person has reached adulthood, or at least adolescence. Films are graded according to the level of maturity the audience requires to reasonably process the film in question, and language is a prime criterion of this grading. An otherwise innocent film with one simple “Fuck” slipped in will automatically garner the brand of heightened maturity, requiring parents to accompany their children to showings. Children will often make a point of learning curse words as a way of imitating older siblings or friends who swear due to an understandable, if flawed, jump in logic: if big kids cuss, then those who cuss must be big kids.

For whatever reason, cursing is a part of every type of language and culture.

Fuck that shit, TVG

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