Category Archives: pain

Scammer epilogue

In this old story about me baiting a scammer, I posted some of the photos the scammer was sending me to convince me of the authenticity of the photo. Here is a photo of “Mariam” at her father’s funeral:

It looked obviously photoshopped to include some model’s face. Today I located the original photograph:

More info about these kinds of scams: Advance Fee Fraud letters | Your utterance is reprehensible | Scamwarners

Terrible beauty

“The Patrician took a sip of his beer. ‘I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect I never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the banks of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged onto a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining on mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built into the nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.’”

Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals

Twain speaking about the “damned human race”

“There has never been a just one, never an honorable one – on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful – as usual – will shout for the war. The pulpit will – warily and cautiously – object – at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, “It is unjust and dishonorable, and here is no necessity for it.” Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers – as earlier – but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation – pulpit and all – will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”

– Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger

CNN’s triumphant return to accurate journalism

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…ok, ok, fine — I admit it. I changed it; I couldn’t help it. Sorry. :)

Optimism that only a programmer can appreciate

“A programmer is a person who passes as an exacting expert on the basis of being able to turn out, after innumerable punching, an infinite series of incomprehensive answers calculated with micrometric precisions from vague assumptions based on debatable figures taken from inconclusive documents and carried out on instruments of problematical accuracy by persons of dubious reliability and questionable mentality for the avowed purpose of annoying and confounding a hopelessly defenseless department that was unfortunate enough to ask for the information in the first place.”

— IEEE Grid news magazine

Citizen Spies

Thanks to Google Maps, we know that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has an awesome swimming pool, complete with a bitchin’ water slide:



(click to see it on Google Maps)

But Google Maps also shows us the cost of excess.



(click to see it on Google Maps)

This is a very small sampling of the mass graves resulting from the 1995-1998 famines (the “Arduous March”) that killed around two million people.

This hellish tour of North Korean is curated by Curtis Melvin, a PhD candidate who, along with a few fellow investigators, has spent the last two years annotating the maps of North Korea in Google Earth. He was recently profiled in a fascinating Wall Street Journal article.

Go to Curtis Melvin’s site to download the incredible kmz file which will open up in Google Earth if you have it installed.

WTFractal?!?

XSLT is a language for transforming XML. I came to hate XSLT long ago, at the tail end of a fading honeymoon period in which I dwelt in the empty promises of XML.

Somebody came up with a way to plot the Mandelbrot Set using only an XML file combined with a particularly evil XSLT file. This is a disturbing, evil way to go about drawing fractals. Please don’t do this.

It really works. Click here to try it. Your browser will thank you for the pointless exercise.

(previously, and previously)

My share of the stimulus package

Now I can pretend to be on Wall Street, seizing untold riches with my filthy, Ponzi-scheme stained paws!

My share of the stimulus package

My share of the stimulus package

My share of the stimulus package

My share of the stimulus package

…or does this hyperinflationary currency from Zimbabwe’s crumbling economy portend the future of our own currency?

By the way… uh… is it just me, or is the typeface on the 10 trillion dollar banknote the same as the one used for Rock Band?

They really know how to party in Zimbabwe.

I wish my 401(k) was this much fun.

VP debate: It had some words in it.

I couldn’t help but follow up my previous Wordle posts with some new Wordles generated from last night’s VP debate transcript.

As John Hodgman said recently on Twitter during the debate broadcast: “Word salad. Word salad. Word salad. I feel like I’m hearing a spam. So to speak.”

Here, enjoy re-living the word salad:

Palin:

Biden:

Ifill:

Last night’s debate gave me a headache. I think I have a hangover. And I didn’t even play the debate drinking game. Or Palin Bingo.