Thursday, November 29, 2007

Scamming the scammer

In response to my previous post about Nigerian mail fraud, Roberto sent me a link which features this extremely funny exchange between a mail fraudster and his intended victim. The guy had a good laugh at the crooks expense.

It's not brilliantly formatted so you may need to scroll down if there's a gap in the copy, but definitely worth reading to the end.

I also found this link with more people giving these scammers a run for their money on the b.s front. Funny stuff.

Photo and source

Back sack and crack

We have a friend who lives in San Francisco who's fond of having the male equivalent of the Brazilian wax, also knows as a 'Back Sack & Crack' job. No prizes for guessing what that entails. I take it he's a regular, because his account of what it's like, and my own experience (once and never again) differed greatly in terms of pain experienced, or perhaps, pain reported. So there was me thinking I was a big woosie, until I came across this article in the recent issue of Vanity Fair.

It's written by the English-American author
Christopher Hitchens (pictured), who embarked on an all-over self improvement process in the USA, which, among other things, involved having the hair from his nether regions removed. Why? Who knows, but this is part of what he had to say on the subject:

Here’s what happens. You have to spread your knees as far apart as they will go, while keeping your feet together. In this “wide stance” position, which is disconcertingly like waiting to have your Pampers changed, you are painted with hot wax, to which strips are successively attached and then torn away. Not once, but many, many times. I had no idea it would be so excruciating. The combined effect was like being tortured for information that you do not possess, with intervals for a (incidentally very costly) sandpaper handjob. Continue reading

The article, 'On the limits of self-improvement' also includes Hitchens's endeavour to fix his 'British teeth' and quit smoking. A very good, well-written, and amusing read.

Photo: Vanity Fair

It's a scam

I often write about the latest grammatically challenged Nigerian fraud email I've received - tongue firmly in cheek. Then today I watched an episode of Oprah, and there are thousands of people that have actually fallen prey to these scams. "What a bunch of eejits" you'd think, but a lot of them are intelligent professional people that just got very unlucky, and OK, admittedly, made some poor choices.

From what they were saying on the show, the scams come in various guises - not just the whole 'My millionaire uncle died and I need to get his money out of Nigeria' ones. Some of them are 'You've won the lottery' types, asking you only to pay the bank transfer fees. Others involve work at home scams, and one woman was even got on an Internet dating scam.

The last one gave me the creeps, because that's how I met my lovely Roberto, and have in fact dated successfully using this service in the past. What you're told to look out for in this case however, is men or women that are supposedly English or American professionals, but are based abroad in countries such as, wait for it, Nigeria, doing charity work. The woman on the Oprah show corresponded with a guy for a few months, fell in love, and then sent money on to him towards the orphanage he had supposedly set up. I think various amounts were transferred, and eventually this bastard even went as far as to ask her to put on a white dress and meet him at the airport. The poor woman waited there for six hours before going home in floods of tears, realising she'd been had.

These guys, based primarily in Russia and Nigeria, use professional shots of men and women stolen from modeling sites, and probably even Flicker etc, to help pass off their fake identities.

The scam expert on the Oprah Show said a good site to double check on the guy or woman you may be corresponding with, in case you aren't sure, and especially if they are based in a far off country and need money 'to help the locals', is You go onto this site and type in their name to run a search. The woman who had been scammed on the show was corresponding with a Nigerian-based scammer, who it turned out had 40 plus aliases.

Another woman, and this one I can very easily see happening to just about anyone, went on to eBay to bid for a wedding dress. She kept bidding (going as high as $2,500) but eventually lost out because she didn't meet the minimum or something to that effect. The next day she received what she believed to be an email from the seller saying she would sell the dress to her for the $2,500 she had bid, off the books, so to speak. As it happened (red flag time) the sellers paypal account was on the fritz, so she requested the buyer to make a direct bank transfer. Surprise surprise, it was a scam and the email didn't even come from the real seller of the dress.

The eBay spokesperson and scam expert on the show said these scammers keep their eye on these big amount bidding processes. And then, sensing someone is desperate for something they have missed out on, move in for the kill, posing as the real seller. The eBay spokesperson said one should be very suspicious of any 'seller' attempting to sell to you outside of the normal eBay process.

Let it not be said that Oprah doesn't still have a thing or two to teach to the world.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Indian teen survives pole in head

According to the Daily Mail, Manish Rajpurohit has been hailed the luckiest teenager in India after he survived being skewered by a metal pole in a bus crash. Continue reading

This reminded me of the story of Phineas Gage back in the 18 hundreds - the case they teach you about in Psych 101, where the guy got a pole stuck in his head after an explosion and experienced dramatic personality changes.

According to Wikipedia:
"Gage's case is cited as among the first evidence suggesting that damage to the frontal lobes could alter aspects of personality and affect socially appropriate interaction. Before this time the frontal lobes were largely thought to have little role in behavior." Continue reading

Photo Daily Mail

Holy Crap!

Probably not what I should be reading when I am due to give birth in the next couple of weeks myself, but a woman in Manchester gave birth to a baby weighing, get this, 14lb 8oz. That's around 6.57kgs. To contextualise, most newborns are around the 7lb mark. Continue reading

Photo: Jack, now six months old, weighs 22lb and wears clothes for an 18-month-old. C/o Daily Mail

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oprah's 7 ways to restart your day

If, like me, you struggle to get up in the morning, here are some helpful suggestions to kick start you into the day on a more positive note, thanks to the Oprah website.

And on the subject of Oprah, this is what happened when five celebrity hairstylists and their teams made over more than 100 people in 48 hours.

When men get sick

The Man-Flu - More free videos are here
Click here if you can't see the clip

Thanks to the lovely Roberto for the tip :-)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Undercover reporters and other news

Yep, stimulating stuff people.

On my end I'm 36 weeks pregnant today and on the home stretch. I've developed varicose veins, hemorrhoids, a touch of narcolepsy, and my hands and arms resemble Angelina Jolie's. Recently I've also been having weird twingey pains in my cervix, and have chronic back ache. But other than that, I'm just peachy.

With the pending birth of our baby, some people seem to think this is a good time to regale me with horror stories of the birth process - as happened to them, their mother, or their aunt twice removed. I'm not sure if the intention is to prepare me for the worst, and therefore seen as a service, or merely a sadistic ploy to illicit panic.

My cleaner, who is from Lithuania, and seems to read newspapers better equipped to wipe your bottom with, is also fond of telling me just what a miserable job the NHS is doing - accompanied by more nightmarish birth stories as happened to her and various other women that feature in said newspapers. She also, just for the hell of it, includes stats on infant deaths, thanks again to the inept NHS.

I'm not even having my baby on the NHS, but it still annoys the hell out of me. Some people have a very irritating tendency to form
sweeping generalised opinions based on a handful of worst case scenarios. Sure, the NHS has its faults, but as far as a subsidised public health system goes, it sure beats the hell of out some other countries where you would rather die than land up in a state-run hospital. Recently a friend of mine was asking me if I have a private doctor for general health stuff, and my response was although I have access to one through my husband's work, I am actually completely happy with my NHS surgery. I've experienced professional treatment and care there for the last 4.5 years, and before that an equally excellent surgery in Ealing for five years.

Anyway, best not to let people get you down with their scare mongering, though easier said than done when you are 8.5 months pregnant and stuff tends to get on your nerves. My sister told me that the sound of her mother-in-laws voice was akin to nails being scratched down a blackboard when she was pregnant. I laughed at the time, but it's funny how you do in fact become highly sensitised and in fact intolerant to certain people, sounds, foods and even smells when you are carrying a child. Unfortunately my cleaner, whom I normally get on with like a house on fire, has become one of those people that annoy me. Which, admittedly, may have something to do with her aforementioned negativity.

Tonight is our final antenatal class where we discuss, among other things, how ones life changes once the baby is born. Sounds like a no-brainer to me, but there are some women who do apparently have a very misguided fantasy of what having a baby involves. This seems to feature images of dressing the baby in lots of lovely little outfits, but neglects the lack of sleep, sore leaky breasts, hormonal ups and downs, and dirty nappies.

I feel like I have a one-up on the other women in my class, thanks to frank bits of advice imparted by my mother and grandmother from around the time I hit puberty. These went something to the effect of: "Do not have children they will ruin your life." Sometimes this was phrased as: "Do not have children it will ruin your marriage." Another version might be: "Once you have kids your life is over." The last being my favourite, I think, in terms of its simple eloquent minimalism, yet 'cover all bases' kind of appeal.

Suffice it to say, I've got a pretty well established idea that once the baby arrives it's not going to be an easy ride. I'm hoping this 'preparing for the worst' kind of thinking means I might be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't turn out that bad. "Don't count on it," I can almost hear my grandmother saying.

Photo: Daily Mail

Friday, November 16, 2007

Got curves? Here's the news you've been waiting for

A study has revealed that that extra padding women with hour glass figures carry around their hips may be more than just the result of too many Maltesers.

According to the BBC:

Researchers studied 16,000 women and girls and found the more voluptuous performed better on cognitive tests - as did their children.

The bigger the difference between a woman's waist and hips the better.

Researchers writing in Evolution and Human Behaviour speculated this was to do with fatty acids found on the hips. In this area, the fat is likely to be the much touted Omega-3, which could improve the woman's own mental abilities as well as those of her child during pregnancy.

Men respond to the double enticement of both an intelligent partner and an intelligent child, the researchers at the Universities of Pittsburgh and California said. Continue reading

Thanks to the lovely Roberto for the tip.

Photo source: Daily Mail

Happy Friday

Here are a few links for your Friday reading amusement:
Photo: Daily Mail

Monday, November 12, 2007

The new Spice Girls Tesco ad

Yeah as if Victoria Beckham shops at Tesco's! Still, not a bad ad, if you can employ a (great) degree of suspension of disbelief.

Monday roundup

This is just a quick post before I head off to our weekly antenatal class where they are showing us birth videos. R tried to get out of it by saying he had some or other board meeting - yeah right. A likely story.

Just a few links for your reading enjoyment:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's tough being a model

This is a very funny montage of models falling during fashion shows.

Oh well, they get paid enough ;-)

Thanks to the lovely Louise for the tip

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday reading material

There's not a lot going on at the moment, so here are a few dregs for your amusement:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Interesting music choice there boys

Thanks to the lovely Roberto for the tip


Photo c/o Daily Mail