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June 10, 2005


In response to this morning's post, Chris E shot me an e-mail suggesting futher sport: "scambaiting".  Or "baiting the perpetrator's of the so-called 419 scams -- Nigerian letter confidence scams -- into ridiculous acts".  I acknowledge having been fascinated by scambaiting for years -- it's always been right behind "German, again" and "computer programming" on the list of things to learn.  Sadly, I'd have no stomach for it at all.  I get all squeamish at the prospect of public embarrassment of a third party, even a shitbird.  Can't even bear it in those motion picture shows.

Anyhow, Chris E recommended 419eater as a starting point, and, boy, I could read that shit for hours.  In fact, I did.  Many pages of logged correspondence between the scambaiter and some "my uncle left me 25.5 millions of dollars which i cannot access" hucksters.  Mean-spirited, too.

From there, we jump off to other sites, like Bait A Mugu and What's The Bloody Point.  Just the tip of the iceberg, really.

Special bonus nuggets: 419eater's Ethics of Scambaiting and also The Hulk.  Everything goes better with a little Hulk in it.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:21 PM

controlled mischief episodes

I just tried this, and, I don't know if it works or not, but it sure does make you feel all empowered, or empowerful, or however you want to misnomenclate it.

It's a tactic to combat the practice of phishing, which is such a malevolent and pernicious tactic that I'm surprised Big Business hasn't adopted it yet.  Basically, instead of ignoring the phishing e-mails you get, click onto the spoofed financial institution site and enter bad but legitimate sounding info.  It destroys phishing not by prosecution (and who does prosecution ever deter?), but by making the phishing enterprise less efficient and therefore less profitable.

Kind of like this: if four out of every five purses contained nothing of value, purse snatchings would decrease drastically.

I'm way down with this.  Not only do I get to fight the crime, but hopefully I get to spoil some shitbird's day while I'm at it, and then I will cackle with glee but then walk a little old lady across the street, to balance my karma.

[Link via Cardhouse, who I'm surprised didn't think of this already.]

Posted by mrbrent at 10:19 AM

June 9, 2005

got my sci-fi on

Conflicting science fiction reports from people smarter than me.

A day or two ago, I read from Maud that our cyber-punk front guard is looking back to the future, appropriating the old classic forms (space opera, time travel) for a Canadian SciFi resurgence.  Canadian?  Oh no I dint!  Oh yes I did.

Meanwhile, Warren Ellis posits the cream of the new SciFi as author of the upcoming "Accelerando" Charles Stross.   Stross is no Canadian -- he's from Scotland, which makes him mysterious and sexy.  "Accelerando" speculates the occurrence of a "technological singularity" event.  Apparently, the "Singularity" is a dominating theme of current SciFi, so Stross's site provides this -- a handy (if not dorky) guide the concept of the Singularity, which I've wasted some amount of time browsing through.

So, I'm not sure if the Canadians and the Scots are fixing for some kind of SciFi fight, but, there you have it, submitted for your review and idle pondering.

Further, I've not read Stross, or any of the new writers mentioned in the CBC article (Robert Charles Wilson, Robert J. Sawyer) so I'm not picking sides, except to say, "Novels are pretty."

Posted by mrbrent at 12:06 PM

IYI - regular service to resume

I'm having another one of those slow dark weeks of agitation fatigue.  It kind of ambushes you on the Wednesday directly following a productive and hopeful Monday and Tuesday.  Then you're stuck wishing there was a TV at your desk, as TV-watching becomes the most productive possible activity of the moment.

The saddest thing is that the admission of agitation fatigue is the segue to the rant I've been trying to write for three or four years -- the unified field theory of rants.  The "How can a country be so obviously destroyed by greed" rant, the "Has it always been this bad and am I just waking up to it" rant.  The "How is it ever possible to change a fucking thing when a third of the fucking US electorate can be misdirected by a simple show of gay-hatin'" rant.  All the rants, all together.

I've written about fourteen drafts of this.  Unfortunately, they're all first drafts.  All about three paragraphs long.  Mostly incomprehensible.

Sorry, I'm having a "just getting it off my chest" moment, which I am no big fan of, but are necessary every indeterminate unit of time.

Believe me, I'd much rather be kicking in with the deft observation, like Anti.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:27 AM

June 8, 2005

so what if he is

Reader Kev in the UK accuses me of falling under the evil spell of singing the praises George Galloway.  He's worried that Galloway is running an anit-war conjob on gullible US progressives.  As Kev is actually in the UK, I defer to his wisdom and operational knowledge of Galloway.  To illustrate the same, Kev sent along this link to an essay published in a London-based internet concern, which essay boils down to:
Until recently, probably the only person who took George Galloway seriously was George Galloway...  But how has he emerged as a hero of the international anti-war movement, as the plucky Scot who stands up to American tyrants in the name of oppressed peoples everywhere?  Very little about Galloway has changed; he remains the opportunistic and self-promoting politician he always was.  Rather, it is the degraded state of today's anti-war movement that has allowed someone like Galloway to come to the fore: his brand of cheap anti-imperialism has gone mainstream in recent years, accidentally making him a man of our time.

While I appreciate the warning, there's nothing really to worry about.  An American flirtation with a questionable UK figure should do nothing but reinforce the shadiness of the figure.  And no, we are not lowering oursleves to Galloway's level when we admire his outbursts to US officials.  We are only admiring the outbursts.  And it may well be our degraded state that has caused this, but I think that it's more because Galloway was the first Anti-war progressive with anything resembling oratorial skills permitted anywhere near a microphone in the US Senate.  Maybe Noam Chomsky would've ripped Santorum a new one, but it would've come in the form of complete paragraphs and taken three hours.

And what could be more natural than American progressives falling for someone opportunistic and self-promoting?  In fact, what could be more American than oportunism and self-promotion?

Maybe you UK progressive should just convince your opportunistic and self-promoting MP move to the States permanently, where he can reinvent himself as someone opportunistic and self-promoting.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:53 AM

June 7, 2005

offered without comment, except the implied comments

Nothing says success like the phrase Welcome Michelle Malkin Readers.  [Scroll about three-quarters down the page, then smile.]

Via TPM , inadvertently.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:24 PM

i guess it's a cost-cutting measure

This is an odd one.  I don't exactly keep an archive of the Yahoo! Headline Box, but if my memory serves me, this headline:
• Blair seeks Bush support on African aid

Has actually been featured off and on for the past five days.

I don't know if it is a testament to Blair's tenacity, or to Bush's dogged refusal to assist non-American billionaires, or to some Yahoo! editor's personal windmill, or even to my reluctance to admit that Blair's search for Bush's support is the newsworthiest news that ever newsed, and shall remain in the Headline Box for a record eighty-three consecutive weeks.  But it's gotta be a testament to something, right?

Or maybe it's just odd, is all.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:30 AM

June 6, 2005

next they outlaw hugs for the ill

The Supreme Court gets more done before I get to my dayjob than I do in a freaking lifetime.  Fo' sample, today they managed to outlaw medical marijuana, no matter what those pesky states say.

It has been said by those scholar types who know more about this than I do that the current Supreme Court tends towards the "strict interpretation" of the Constitution, generally favoring "State's rights" and the curtailing of broad Federal powers that have grown naturally through governance, though not necessarily expressly granted.  So, apparently, I missed the section of the Constitution granted Federal powers to ban substances.  Well, there is the Eighteenth Amendment, but let's not forget the screaming retreat into the much more popular Twenty-First Amendment, which, if you read carefully, gives control over the legality of "intoxicating liquors" over entirely to individual states.

It's just comforting that whenever the Justice Department decides to raise its self-esteem by arresting and prosecuting some low-hanging fruit, like cripples or those in the slow painful process of fucking dying, the gutless and intellectually corrupt Supreme Court is waiting with the rubber-stamp.

It's a Monday morning "Fuck You", which is not great for week-starting, but it is called for.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:36 AM