Friday, July 24, 2015

Cracked Facts

I'm now pretty sure that the lists of "facts" that go up on Cracked.com and get shared all over Facebook and other social media are not checked to be sure they're factual. Case in point:


I find that hard to believe, since Harrison Ford starred in American Graffiti, a successful George Lucas movie that came out four years before Star Wars.

In other news, lately I seem to be especially snarky about (dis)information shared over social media.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

No License Required

At least that's what "Todd Foster" (if that's his real name) claims.


I'm more than a little dubious about his claim. He bases his argument mostly on legal statements that go back to the mid-nineteenth century, well before motorized vehicles were commonplace. If you can't come up with a precedent from the age of automobiles, I don't think you have much of a case.

He says there's no law against driving without a license for personal, non-commercial travel, but I took the liberty of looking up Tennessee law on the subject and found the following:
TN Code section 55-50-301: No person, except those expressly exempted in this section, shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the person has a valid driver license under the provisions of this chapter for the type or class of vehicle being driven.
So it would appear that it is at least illegal to drive without a license on a "highway".

Foster's video strikes me as the sort of thing which is likely to get some gullible citizen arrested or fined (or killed, given recent police excesses) because they unquestioningly accept his claim. It's libertarian nonsense, based on quote mines of case law that probably isn't applicable or has at least been superseded by subsequent law and court precedent.

Of course, I'm not a legal expert, so I can't say with certainty that his claims are complete BS, but I don't think I'm the one making an extraordinary claim here. Besides, he can prove his claims quite easily.

He can let his license expire (assuming he has one, which I bet he does), and then publicly announce that he is going to go on a cross-country drive (or even just a long intrastate drive, like Miami to Pensacola in his home state of Florida). In the announcement, dare the state police to arrest him for driving without a license, giving them his plate number, vehicle description, planned route, and date(s) of travel. When they do, all he needs to do is use his cited precedents to challenge the arrest in court and win.

Until then, I'll keep my license current.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Circulating Nonsense

The disinformation super-highway has done it again.

People are circulating an article with the headline "Civil War museum closed, Confederate artifacts burned" in complete seriousness. The first line of the article, visible in the Facebook post, is:
"On the heels of the Confederate flag controversy, the City Council of Harrisburg voted to permanently close the doors of the Civil War Museum last week."
Some of the comments from the thread on Facebook where I saw it include the following:
  • "And all those other times when people decided to burn / erase history and artifacts from the past: How did that turn out? Did it ever turn out good?"
  • "In the tradition of the Taliban, ISIS, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Red Chinese Cultural Revolution to just go back 90 years or so... and just to name a few... statists are insane."
  • "Rewriting history is classic Soviet behavior."
  • "Go authoritarian fascism"
When I looked at the headline, I immediately suspected that the article was a hoax. Do people really swallow such an absurd headline with no checking at all?

It took me less than ten seconds to find the website of the The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. Apparently the article has been getting shared a lot, because they had this statement on the home page.
In light of the situation in the current press, The National Civil War Museum has issued the following statement:
The Board of Directors of The National Civil War Museum have no intentions of closing the museum and we will be conducting business as usual.
The post links to a site called "The People's Cube" which looks like a troll site. Seriously, just look at it for a second and it's obvious.

How foolish have we become that we accept such a blatant troll article at face value?

Monday, July 13, 2015

To the Rescue!

This showed up in my office email:
Greetings to you, how are you doing today and i hope you are up and strong, am very sorry to write you at this moment cos its late to tell you that i made an urgent successful trip to Phillipines MANILA with my fam. On the way coming back, got mugged at gun point and all fund and valuable items including all our phones. The worst scenario is that, i am owing the hotel right now and i must pay all bills to get out of here. $ 2,750 USD is urgently needed right now to pay the hotel bills, promise to pay back ASAP we made it home.

Kindly get back to me ASAP you receive this mail, cos i hope on you.

Sincerely, [Friend's name]
The "From" address is my friend's Yahoo email address. I have no reason to suspect that this friend is anywhere near Manila, so I'm quite sure that it's a trick to get some money. I did notify them via Facebook that I think their Yahoo account has been hacked.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mad Lib Time!

I haven't done one of these in ages, but recent events reminded me that I once did them, so without further ado...

1. An amount of time
2. An event
3. A collective thing
4. Verb (past tense)
5. Adjective
6. A date
7. Verb (present participle)
8. State of being
9. State of being
10. State of being
11. Possessive noun
12. Adverb
13. Verb
14. Verb
15. Verb
16. A holiday

I will mix the best responses into a new post, and put individual responses in its comments.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sharktopus!

Sharktopus Poster
I found a source of cheap DVDs in my area. I picked up Sharktopus for $0.99. I live-commented about it on Facebook, and I have copied the transcript here so you can share my pain.

You may want to view the trailer before you start reading.

My live commentary begins after the jump.

Also, see my review at Badmovies.org.

Job Offer

I got two copies of this email to the same corporate email address within 14 minutes.
Hi... We Have a PT/job. we pay $250 per job and we want you to participate. Your job is only to act as a regular customer and conduct normal business, Customer service is valuable.Please complete contact information below Full Name: Address: City: State: Zip/Postal Code: Alternate E-mail: Cell Phone Number Home Phone Number ALT Email Address AGe Present occupation AVAILABILITY Days/Hours Available Hours Available: from _______ to ______ We await your urgent response.
 My guess is that it's an identity theft scam.

Monday, June 08, 2015

More Phishy Email

This one is just some jackass trying to get a foot in the door of the corporate network.

As usual, the horrible grammar gives it away, although the signature kind of gives an excuse for that. On the other hand, we have no reason to be doing business with a Chinese food distributor, so that's a fail of its own.

A good phisher should know the waters and have the right kind of bait. This phisher is apparently just throwing out as many lines as possible: quantity over quality.

Monday, June 01, 2015

UN Holding My Money

This looks intriguing. I've apparently inherited money from a relative or acquaintance that I didn't know existed, and the United Nations is trying to make sure I receive it, in spite of corruption.
UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION PALAIS DES NATIONS, 1211 GENEVA 10,
SWITZERLAND.

Attention Fund Beneficiary/ Email Owner.

IRREVOCABLE PAYMENT ORDER VIA ATM CARD

we have actually been authorized by the United Nation, and the International Monetary Fund, to investigate the unnecessary delay on the payment approved in your favor.
During the course of our investigation, we discovered with dismay that your payment has been unnecessarily Delayed by corrupt officials of the Bank who are Trying to divert your funds into their private accounts.

To forestall this, security for your funds was organized in the form of your personal Identification number (PIN) ATM CARD and this will enable only you to have direct Control over your funds in the ATM CARD.
We will monitor this payment ourselves to avoid the hopeless situation created by the Officials of the bank.

An irrevocable payment guarantee has been issued by the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on your Payment. However, we are happy to inform you that based on our recommendation/Instructions; your complete Inheritance funds have been credited in your favor through ATM VISA CARD.

You are therefore advice to contact: Mr.  Brine World,
Director ATM Payment Department
(Intercontinental Benin Republic)
Email Address: XXXXX.com

Contact him now and tell him to advise you on how to receive your ATM CARD.  As soon as you establish a contact with him, an ATM card will be issued to you immediately which you can use to withdraw your funds in any Bank ATM Machine in your Country, but the maximum to withdraw is
5000 per day.

When contacting him, contact him with your data as stated below:

1. Your Full Name:
2. Address Where You Want the Courier Company to Send Your ATM Card
3. Your Age:
4. Occupation:
5. Telephone Numbers:
6. Country:

NOTE: You are advised to furnish Mr. Brine World with your correct and valid details; Also be informed that your ATM CARD is valued 
1,000,000,00GBP. Congratulations.

MESSAGE FROM THE PRO
UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION.
What is the scam, I wonder? Identity theft seems obvious, given the information they've requested. I suppose there will be some costs to get "my" ATM card set up, so there's advance fee fraud, as well.

The email address is an anonymous account, of course. Why would the World Director of the ATM Payment Department at the World Bank Group have a corporate email address?

Have scammers never interacted with a real bank, such that they could come up with a convincing email address? Have they never run the grammar/spelling check on a word processor? Could I get paid to proofread their scam emails?

I suppose it's just as well that these guys are incompetent at thievery.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Adventures of EmoMage

As I may have mentioned, when I started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, I decided to make the most emo-looking character I could. Since then, I've been experimenting with the video capture feature of my PS4 and Adobe Premier editing.

The result is a series of short videos of EmoMage in action. I'm editing out the gameplay and just showing the cut scenes so she's shown in all of her emo glory. These will include some spoilers, so don't watch if you are concerned about that possibility.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Malibu Shark Attack (2009)

"Malibu Shark Attack" on Hulu. This is a 2009 killer shark movie from Insight Film Studios, which appears to work out of Australia.

IMDB summary: When a tsunami floods Malibu, it brings with it a hunting pack of deep-water, prehistoric goblin sharks that go after the lifeguards in their half-submerged station on stilts and a team of construction workers stranded in a flooded house.

Here’s the trailer.


I shared my experience live on Facebook. The transcript is below the fold.