Monday Lite: I Didn't Really Want To Officer, But You See, My Outerwear Has An Insatiable Thirst For Human Blood
I'm later than usual today because the school called and I had to go pick up my son, whom I've agreed to pretend is sick. I do this for him in exchange for not having to take him to soccer practice today. I scratch his back, he scratches mine."
So I'm trying to sell my boat. I put the boat on craigslist under the listing "Fugly but useful fishing boat" (so I'm not exactly a marketing guru or even a semi-competent salesman. I'm just a guy that wants to sell his boat, ok) and waited for a reply. This is the very first reply (via email) I received:
Hello i saw your advert on the web,i am interested in buying your(Fugly but useful fishing boat)am based in west africa. My shipping broker will be coming for the pickup after payment as been made. i am willing to pay $600 Get back to me if my offer is ok by you. Have a nice day. regards
I was somewhat annoyed that the first reply I received was just a version of the old Nigerian email scam. I was much more annoyed with what a shoddy job they did of it. I mean, come on! You guys have been at this for years. Is it really that hard to write a script that doesn't include "()" around the title of the post you are replying to? It's a dead give-away and it is just sloppy. Did the Nigerian Email Scam Project Manager just not include in the the project specs or did the programmer screw up? Either way, really lame, dudes.
I had a couple of minutes to kill so I did the old write-back-just-to-fuck-with-the-scammer thing. I know, it's been done before but the sloppiness made me angry and, like I said, I had a few minutes to kill.
I'm very delighted to hear of your interest in purchasing my (Fugly but uselful fishing boat). I feel guilty, however, to note that I did not mention in my initial advertisement that this particular boat is plagued with the Ebola Virus. I've tried to treat it with antibiotics and even some herbal remedies that I picked up off the internets, but nothing seems to work. I hope that this is not a deal-breaker for you.
Would you be willing to forward me a cashiers check for the boat? Because that would be swell.
Also, if it is not too much trouble, I would appreciate it if you wouldn't mind tattooing a crawfish to your buttocks and make it dance very crawfish like (for verification purposes, you need to be extra careful when dealing with people on these internets you understand). Be tasteful about it though, I only need it for verification purposes and I'm not into smut.
I look forward to doing business with you.
James K. Polk
I received the following message within a day:
Hello, Thanks for getting back to me.i also want to buy it asap. Like i said earlier i am based in the Western africa .there won't be any probs about the shipment,after payment ,the pick up will be made at your place. i have made arrangements with the prepaid shipping company. As regards payment,this is what i am going to do.I have a client in the US who is owing me $3,000 i would instruct him to makeout a certified check to you in that amount and as soon as it clears your bank. you can now deduct your money from it and send me my balance,i will be using part of the money to pay for the shipping and other expenses.you will then send my balance by via western union money transfer.Although the value of the check is more than the asking price but i think i should be able to trust you with my balance even as a man of law enforcement. So i would like you to deduct the western union charges from my balance.So if my terms are acceptable to you,i would like you to give me your full name,address and phone number so that i can instruct my client to make out the check to you. Pls get back to me as soon as you get this mail so that we can round things up in a timely fashion..i will be trusting in this business transaction. get back to me. Thanks in this regards
So now I'm pissed. I take the time to write them and all I get back is a form letter? Something else is wrong here, though. Something is off. The English is actually pretty good. There is just something very perfunctory about it. It lacks style. It lacks art. The customer service is lousy and there is obviously communication problems between the Program Manager and staff. It just seems so famili...OH MY FUCKING GOD! I've got it! The Nigerians have outsourced their email scam to India!
I'm so angry at this point that I can't think about anything but kicking that talentless douchebag Thomas Friedman in the nuts. I send a quick reply.
Wow, that is a great offer and you can totally, totally trust me to send you the balance of your $3000! If you need a reference as to my good character I can give you my mothers phone number. She will totally vouch for me.
I have yet to receive the buttocks crawfish picture, though. As soon as I receive that, we can begin the transaction.
You're so totally cool!
James "Dead Prez" Polk
Shortly afterwards I receive this:
I want you to get back to me with your contact name and address you want the check to be payable to so that i can quickly forward it to my client to issue the check to you without any delay. get back to me as soon as possible.
I am absolutely exasperated. Is it really too much to ask that I get a real-live Indian pretending to be an African to write to me? How did it come to this? Was Nigerian labor really that expensive? I remember being very supportive when the Nigerian Email Scammers finally formed a union (NESU). I had never been that fond of the Nigerian Email Scammers management and I figured that through the union the workers would at least get a better cut and would get better training to hone their art. What went wrong? Crooked or incompetent union bosses? It's depressing. Ok, one more but I'm going to give up soon.
You are a business man. I understand that. I am/was also a business man. I ran my own lemonade stand this summer, so I know where you are coming from. Speaking of my lemonade stand, did you know that if you sell a glass of lemonade for $.01 each you can actually lose money? This was ok with me at first (like you, I understand that sometimes you have to lose money to make money), but when my secret ingredient was discovered and the police got involved it just became too much of a hassle. So, again, I know where you are coming from.
If I had received your generous offer exactly four years ago, I would have given you my address right away, but then on 9/11/2001 Saddam blew up the Oklahoma City Towers and everything changed. Security is important and I have to watch what I say so that I don't have to fight with you over here.
Now that I think of it, I think maybe I am being really rude and unusual. You probably don't have crawfish where you are and that is why you have not sent the security picture. If that is the case I am very, very sorry and embarrased. I am not actually the cultural elite that my good writing would suggest. Because of my stupid mistake, I will accept a tattoo of any crustacean of your choice on your buttocks.
I hope to hear from you soon. The more I think of our business the more excited I get!
James "mostly worms" Polk
I'll try and keep you good people updated on this, but right now I'm going through my "People I Hate" rolodex to figure out which address to send him. In case you are wondering, everybody in that rolodex receives just a cheap Christmas card that I bought in bulk with a quick note. My real friend gets a genuine Hallmark card with a letter attached.
Maybe I will take up this, how you say, "blooging"?
So SJ is chiding me for leaving the Alabama post on the top of my blog for too long. This is understandable, as I can understand how a liberal from Alabama could be touchy about people making fun of their hillbilly, backwater state. On the other hand, telling me that I have to post again is like pointing a camcorder at someone and saying, "ok, now be funny". It's cruel.
I've put off blogging because the next time I came to this site I was going to add to my much neglected links (pops, sj, mph and now, petercorolla), but that is just so much darn work. I know my blog sucks. I'm cool with that. I feel that it is actually an advantage when I go to other blogs that suck and tell them how much they suck because then I am speaking from a position of authority (I'm looking at you http://nc.startribune.com/blogs/vikings/). See how bad this sucks? I can't even be bothered anymore with hyperlinks.
So...um...well...oh, oh here's something. I'll try mentioning something from my actual life instead of a long political rant or just linking to some other long political rant. Pops has been talking childrens soccer, so I'll jump on that wagon and update everyone (hi SJ! Hi Pops! Hi wife!) on tonights soccer experience. My youngest boy (just turned 5) had his best game tonight. Scored somewhere in the area of 5 goals. Oldest boy (6 1/2) played some decent defense and then, after the game, lectured the opposing coach on one of her players lack of sportsmanship during the game. I'm so proud of both of them.
This is good. Michelle Pilecki of Huffington Post pointed out an article the Canadians are snickering about (and rightly so) about why Toyota decided to build a plant in Canada instead of Alabama or Mississippi despite the fact that Alabama was offering much better subsidies:
The Huffington Post | The Blog: "But [Gerry] Fedchun [president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association] said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project. He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use 'pictorials' to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.
'The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario,' Fedchun said"
Almost as funny, an Alabama newspaper wrote this article defending the massive brainpower of our southern neighbors entitled Are Alabama workers dumber than Canadians? To dispute this claim, does the paper compare graduation rates? Aptitude tests? Teeth-per-mouth ratios? Nope. They ask a Toyota executive at the company's Huntsville engine plant, the Alabama Development Office Director and the director of Alabama Industrial Development Training. Oddly enough, none of these people agree with the article.
When our local school district was having a tough time (still is) getting a levy passed for an increase in support, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper. I wanted to get across the idea that public investment mattered. At the end of the letter I needed an example of a state where public investment was not a high priority and low taxes trumped every other concern. The first state name that jumped out at me was Alabama.
I'd apologize for this post to SJ, but I'm guessing that she probably enjoyed this post more than any non-Alabamians (or whatever the hell you call yourselves).
It looks like the Cheney administration is finally getting serious about losing the war in Iraq -- it's sending in the radio talk show hosts:
A contingent of conservatives talk radio hosts is headed to Iraq this month on a mission to report 'the truth' about the war: American troops are winning, despite headlines to the contrary.
The 'Truth Tour' has been pulled together by the conservative Web cast radio group Rightalk.com and Move America Forward, a non-profit conservative group backed by a Republican-linked public relations firm in California.
If the Iraqi insurgents are smart -- and most of them are fucking geniuses compared to your average right-wing talk show host -- they'll spread the word: Leave these particular dumb ass infidels alone. (Not that any of them are likely to poke their porcine snouts outside the green zone without a brigade-strength escort. But you never know where the odd mortar round is going to land.)
Why? Because collectively, these guys are an enormously valuable asset to America's enemies -- both because of their utterly brainless support for Al Qaeda's strategy of turning the war against terrorism into a crusade against Islam, and because they've done such a splendid job of setting up the American people to be demoralized and disillusioned by the truth.
Anthony Cordesman, the conservative but reality-based Iraq analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, provides a good thumbnail description of Al Qaeda's war strategy in his most recent report, Iraq's Evolving Insurgency:
The goal of Bin Laden and those like him is not to persuade the US or the West, it is rather to so alienate them from the Islamic and Arab world that the forces of secularism in the region will be sharply undermined, and Western secular influence can be controlled or eliminated. The goal of most Iraqi insurgents is narrower -- drive the US and its allies out of Iraq -- but involve many of the same methods.
As it happens, the paid propagandists of wing nut radio have the same objective -- to promote a clash of civilizations. They do it by playing up every atrocity committed by the insurgents while ignoring every display of massive overkill (like the flattening of Fallujah) committed by the U.S. military, by glorifying torture and degradation (I Heart Gitmo), by demonizing Islam as a "gutter" religion and the Arabs as a subhuman species, and in general by being the loudest, most obnoxious assholes on the face of the earth. Walking billboards for anti-Americanism, in fact.
And they do these things for much the same reason Bin Ladin rants about Zionists and crusaders: because it gets good ratings. Spewing hatred over the airwaves 24/7 keeps the true believers in a permanent froth, drowning out any doubts about the party line and the party elite. This, in turn, makes it easer to paint dissent as treason and criticism of the Cheney administration as support for terrorism. It's all fairly conventional totalitarian stuff -- which is why I tend to think of wing nut radio as the living embodiment of Ingsoc's slogan: Ignorance is Strength."
You should probably just be reading Billmon everyday
Billmon: "I'm not a big fan of patriotism, at least not as most Americans understand the word. Patriotism is just another word for nationalism, and nationalism in my book is the modern equivalent of the black plague -- an incubator of xenophobia at its least, a killer of millions at its absolute worst. And we've seen enough of the absolute worst over the past century to understand where nationalism could ultimately lead: the extinction of the entire human race.
Still, there are emotional attachments to home -- to the familiar, the dear, the remembered -- that go deeper than the intellect and pull harder than reason. Tribal loyalty is a powerful thing. On the morning of 9/11, I was as much a patriot as any man or woman alive, and would have greedily torn Bin Ladin to pieces with my own hands to avenge 'our' dead.
But hatred and revenge are patriotism's curse, not its justification. When Lincoln spoke of 'mystic chords of memory' and urged his countrymen to put their common heritage ahead of their political divisions, he wasn't appealing to their tribal loyalties, but their loyalty to an ideal: democratic government under the law. If American patriotism has any claim to be an exception to the general run of blind national chauvinism, it has to be found in that idea. If America is to be an exceptional nation, one worth glorifying above all others, it has to be because of the quality of her justice and the strength of her democracy -- not because of the language she speaks, or the God she worships or the color of her skin. And not because of her material wealth or military power or imperial ambitions. Least of all those."