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News for the ‘scams’ Category

Nico Botha of Moola Bulla Station’s Threat to Kill 200 Cattle a Day in Live Export Debarcle, and My Confrontation of his Flawed Logic (Because I’m Awesome) AND HOW YOU CAN HELP STOP THE CULL.

It hit the news earlier today that a moron by the name of Nico Botha was having a whinge that he can’t afford to feed his cattle. For my international readers, basically kosher / halal slaughter over here has had a rocky road with frequent ‘surprise’ finds that it’s cruel and sadistic and in no way a humane way to slaughter animals.

Whilst captive bolt method has degraded since the above lobby groups have pushed that it be a legal requirement it does not cause brain death instantly (claiming that spreads BSE, allegedly), but rather knocks the animal out and doesn’t pierce the cranium this method is still far less horrific than the video footage Australia got to see a while back.

Back in 1998 a halal slaughter house in Melbourne was shut down after video footage was leaked out, but more recently the footage exposed to the Australian public was from Indonesia and the level of depravity depicted was on par with what I’ve seen conducted WITHIN Australia as far as halal and kosher slaughter goes but it was the first time Australian’s had seen the meat industry in all it’s glory.

Don’t get me wrong, no preconceptions required here, I’m not a tree hugger, a hippie, or a vegetarian. I see the economical and ecological viability and requirements around me and adopt them as ethical business practice however. Therein lay my frustrations with Nico Botha and his ilk. The type of person who through negligence of their own part then plays off to the media as an ‘Aussie battler’ out to make a fair crust when in reality their own stupidity looks to be their downfall, yet ultimately they file a claim and underwriters fix it all whilst they get to trap off at the press and be used as a political lynch pin or bargaining chip.

As reported today on News.com.au:

Nico Botha owns Moola Bulla station in Western Australia and he told heraldsun.com.au he will start to cull cattle tomorrow because he can’t keep feeding them.

“Rather than let them starve to death over two or three months, I’m going to shoot them quickly,” Mr Botha said.

“My property is over-grazed and I have got too many cattle, I have to look forward to the next year or two.”

Mr Botha slammed Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig for failing to work through the problems properly and for leaving cattle stranded.

“It’s going to be far worse, now animals are going to die in their thousands in paddocks and nobody cares about that.”

A ban on live exports to Indonesia was put in place after horrific images of cows being tortured and harassed before slaughter were broadcast on the ABC.
These farmers were all given hefty compensation packages, which I cannot FATHOM as in any way warranted given that they’re all multi-millionairs in a multi-billion dollar industry where not a single cattle farmer I’ve met, having grown up in a rather rural environment and spending time on an extreme-rural family property as a teen, has ever been poor. They run large plantations, with a mass of staff, and have enough margin to weather the 8 year drought we just sustained.
Given the drought has broken and business is booming for the agri-tech section of our economy again they without doubt have enough sense to manage their businesses in a manner to ensure they won’t be floored simply by not being allowed to send off a bunch of cattle to be slaughtered by religious zealots for crazies back home to consume knowing the animal was sacrificed to their diametrically opposed yet theoretically identical sky fairies.
I mean, c’mon, only a half wit would plan his business profit margins and overheads so tight they rely purely on one minority contract, right? Wrong. Nico Botha, one such half wit, proved that common sense isn’t all that common. Either that or he’s pushing an agenda, and using guilt and threats of ‘horrible wasted deaths’ in paddocks ‘starving to death’ unless he ‘just shoots them’ of a number that scarily is precisely 200 per day until the embargo is lifted. I’d probably put my money on him being a conniving agenda pusher more than a half wit.
I decided that, given my tolerance for idiocy is always at an all time low, I ought to call this bloke up and question his logic. So, to google I went, ‘contact details Moola Bulla Station, Western Australia’ I entered. Out came not one, but two numbers for his office enquiries centre of his property, (08) 9168 8910 and (08) 9168 8911 along with fax and email facilities, far more high tech than my families rural property.
The following is the conversation I held with him, verbatim. Whilst it’s not as sensationalistic as many of you would probably hope, I figured I should give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he is a half wit and be nice and give him some honest advice on how to float his business just to watch him dismiss it and prove to me that he’s merely on the take and wanting to use guilt to achieve a goal, being more hand outs and the embargo being lifted regardless of the ethics or morals involved.

“Moola Bulla,”
“Hello, may I speak to Nico Botha please?”
“Speaking,”
“Hello Nico, I saw your recent issues in the news, I hear you’re in rough times financially?”
“Yep,” said almost hopeful, as though I’m some carrion media mogul about to throw him money.
“I just wanted to congratulate you first on purchasing Australia’s largest cattle farm back in ’07, for $25 million you got it at a steal, especially given it coincided with the drought breaking, business must be boomi.. oh wait, no. It’s not, that’s right.”
“What?”
“Well, you see, I can’t help but question your logic and paralel it to say, slave masters in the Southern States of the US demanding that the average tax payer refund them for slaves they had to let go, when they knew full well that they were dealing in an industry that was unethical in numerous ways and had been abolished in most other nations, surely they saw this coming as much as meat industry farmers.”
“What?”
“Okay, I’ll try something easier. Did Nike complain and demand money from Governments when they suddenly were astounded to find out the sweatshop labor they employed used forced child labor? If you can’t afford to stay in business because of one contract that has a history of being up in the air ethically, as well as being banned outright in many European nations, surely dropping your cattle in paddocks or starving them to death is kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face isn’t it mate?”
“What am I meant to do? They put me out of business, I can’t feed my cattle.”
“Well for starters you could just slaughter them humanely and sell them on the Australian market like all other meat producers have been doing since colonization, but I find it far fetched you demand money from REAL Aussie battlers whilst pleading poverty. I don’t think Nike had the audacity to try that one.”
“But what am I meant to do?”
“I just told you mate, sell locally. You got caught out, you made a dangerous investment, you lost, thems the breaks. Get a loan, talk to a business advisor and financial planner and make your business profitable ethically, you’ll sleep better at night.”
*Nico, shamed by this logic, terminates the call; because putting a hand out and demanding is easier than working for a dollar.

Nico doesn’t want you to know his multi-million dollar property is one of the largest in the nation, is adjacent to a high class golf course, Halls Creek Airport, and a thoroughbred race course. He didn’t want to have a bar of logic, because it’s far easier to use empty threats to scare them city folks into line with horrible acts committed to animals. The brutal reality is, the animals are bred to be slaughtered, they’re going to die, the only thing controlled is the manner in which they die so let him have at it with a rifle and then watch him file false insurance claims for business loss (which he happens to have with GE, something the media in their lack of research missed (it’s amazing what you can find through google, and how many country folk talk big on forums)) and get the big money he wants rather than support the economy of the ‘Aussie battler’ he’s trying to steal the image of for the media to kowtow to.

Ironically, Moola Bulla station was also historically involved in the slaughter of aboriginies; I’m sure the occupants back then were hands out when they realised their gamble on exploiting the ‘black fellah’ hadn’t paid off also.

Whilst I have a feeling it’d be falling on deaf ears, here’s the blokes details should you wish to reach him:

(08) 9168 8910
(08) 9168 8911

Although if you want to make a difference, I suggest writing to (but be sure to ring them first and foremost and demand that a stop be put to Nico’s threat of a cull):

Senator Joseph Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Australian Labor Party

Parliament Contact:
Phone:     (02) 6277 7520
Fax:     (02) 6273 4120

Waterfront Place,
1 Eagle Street
Brisbane Qld 4000

GPO Box 2477
Brisbane Qld 4001

Phone:     (07) 3229 4477
Fax:     (07) 3229 4140
Toll Free:     1300 301 944

I would recommend in doing so you strongly suggest perhaps the Senator see to it that Nico is held liable for negligent managing of a business involving livestock, negligent management of property, and cruelty to animals through the afforementioned negligence. Nico volunteered that his property is ‘over-grazed’ (given it’s size this is highly unlikely and if true is a clear sign of property mismanagement bordering on ecological disaster on a small scale), and that he has ‘too many cattle’, again a clear proof that he was wilful in his negligence for the purchase, breeding or obtainment of so many head of cattle.

The RSCPA can be contacted on:

(08) 9209 9300 or
1300 CRUELTY
(1300 278 3589)

For legal reasons the RSPCA cannot accept anonymous complaints, however details will be kept confidential.
Provide them with a link to this article.

One can only hope should indigenous rights ever be respected that the indigenous peoples of that area take him to the Lands and Environment court for ameliorative waste as another avenue to stop this obvious half-wit from using what’s left of his brain to cause even more ecological harm, not to mention ethical and moralistic furor.

Posted: July 5th, 2011
Categories: critical thought, epiclullz, journalism, politix, rant, scams
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Insurance Companies @AAMI @Bingle @NRMA Are Sexist

You can pay 10%-25% more for your insurance with the above insurers (I’m sure others are equally guilty) based purely on gender, if you’re male, you lose out.

I always find it ironic when sexism loldrama hits the tabloidal news over here, with claims women get paid significantly less than men and get treated worse, when in reality … well.

I propose anyone who believes that shit should run a little test. Hop on say, an MMORPG, roll a female character and a male. See which one gets given free shit, leveled, helped out, aided and entertained all day every day. You can play that game from begining to end game as a male and never actually even get a single word from another player.

As a male, I’m kind of fucked off at all this bullshit. I often promote mannimism, a reversal of feminism, trying to oppose outright sexism against men as the worthless sex.

If you support this ideal, follow @maninism on Twitter right now and let’s get something happening about it.

Posted: June 21st, 2011
Categories: critical thought, epiclullz, politix, rant, scams
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Chinese Prisoners Forced to Goldfarm in MMO’s

Imprisoned for “illegally petitioning” the government over corruption in his town, the former Chinese inmate known as “Liu Dali” has told the U.K. Guardian that in addition to back-breaking manual labor he and other prisoners were forced to play video games for hours on end. Not as a form of punishment or leisure activity, but because their overseers had assembled a massive “goldfarming” operation, wherein they exploited prison labor to earn money playing online games. From the Guardian:

“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off.”

While the idea of prisoners being forced to play video games may seem chuckleworthy, and it certainly is absurd, it is no laughing matter. Again, from the Guardian:

“If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.

Goldfarming is now extremely widespread in China, where the Guardian reports nearly $2 billion in online currency was traded accounting for 80% of the world’s goldfarming. While for some of the world’s poor population, goldfarming could mean a better life, the use of prison labor is bizarre and more than a little troublesome. It also complicates international trade, since some countries refuse to accept exported goods made in prisons.

Liu speculates that many other prisoners are likely still forced into goldfarming operations, and assumes that the practice must be widespread. His belief is backed by University of California researcher Jin Ge, who describes China as “the factory of virtual goods.” One wonders how comfortable gamers would be if they knew that the items and credits purhcased for a game came at the cost of forced labor.

Update: The Telegraph reports that Chinese officials have denied the story, saying that gold farming would allow prisoners to communicate with the outside world, which they would never allow:

[A]n official at the central office for labour camps in Heilongjiang denied that inmates were forced to play games online. “I have never heard of this. If you want to see for yourself, come to one of our labour camps,” he said.

The official, who declined to give his name, said: “We do not allow our inmates to do high-risk occupations, such as coal-mining. We do not have large numbers of computers. And we do not allow our prisoners to have any contact with the outside world. If they were playing these online games they could easily communicate with other people. We would never allow that.”

(U.K. Guardian)

Australian National Broadband Network (ITT: Vaporware)

It’s bad enough in our bipartisan political clime that the other major party are basement dwelling troglodyte technophobes whilst the others are bleeding heart nutjob sycophants who come up with awesome promises then slowly shift away from them, but this NBN has become outright fucking vaporware.

The National Broadband Network is meant to bring Australia up to speed with the rest of the world. Our Trading Practices Act will shank you like a bitch in a jail house if you promise X and deliver an inferior Y but our ISP’s (Telstra, Optus, Iinet and the worst of the worst TPG (who still owe me a few fucking grand I might add)) sell us ‘ADSL 2+’ connections that run at 3 – 5 megabit (ADSL2+ is 24 megabit with a 4 megabit fall off to it’s operational perimeter of 7 kilometers) when you’re located a mere 3 kilometers from the DSLAMM.

That’s ADSL speeds being passed off as ADSL2+ and being charged at a premium rate too.

It’s even worse that the NBN won’t be out until 2030 at current estimates (IF the other party doesn’t get in and can it) but earlier this morning Patrick Flannigan has quit as NBN Co’s head of construction. An acting head of construction has been appointed, Dan Flemming, who was until now the company’s general manager of construction, design and planning.

“We are disappointed with his decision to resign as he was a valuable member of the leadership team,” a spokeswoman for NBN Co told the press, “We wish him all the best for the future.”

This comes after the Government business enterprise last week “indefinitely” suspended tendering for construction firms, saying the 14 quotes they were presented were inflated. According to the NBN Co website, Mr Flannigan was the founding managing director and chief executive of Service Stream, a major provider of infrastructure, construction and maintenance services to the telecommunications sector and broader utilities sectors.

I swear I should just move to a more technophillic nation.

Posted: April 5th, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, general, gossip, journalism, news, rant, scams, science, technology, vox pop
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10 by 10 Entertainment / Bedlam UK TV Series (Subliminal advertising)

I recently saw a subliminal flash in S01 E02 of the Sky UK D-grade supernatural thriller Bedlam during the closing credits.

Curious I tried to pause-skip to it, which is usually doable if your reflexes are fast enough. But after a few dozen attempts of not being able to nail it, I broke out CS3 to narrow the goal posts and found it was a single frame and it was an advert for 10 by 10 entertainment (see attached).

I thought it was odd for a production company to use a subliminal insertion of their own logo in their outro, so I screen capped it as you see it with intent to add a little quip and tweet it. It wasn’t until I got side tracked, came back and googled the show I found it’s actually produced by Red Production Company which is registered and operated in the UK.

I thought perhaps it was a failed hashing in of the audio and clip bar of the show Blue Bloods which was being pimped out in the voice over, but a little more digging around I found that 10 by 10 Entertainment is a registered US trademark for the company that produces America’s Next Top Model and … well, that’s about it.

I’m not sure what it’s doing inserted subliminally for exactly one frame (I mean c’mon, what’re the chances of pollution being exactly a frame?) or why I suddenly want a Big Mac and am wondering what smoked baby tastes like, but it kind of makes you wonder about the ethics behind this kind of shit.

The show is full of flashy lame ‘freak out’ scenes involving lots of cut-scenes so what else could be inserted in things? I mean, didn’t that really bad attempt at subliminal advertising in the MTV VMA’s for KFC and stuff lead to almost all nations outlawing the practice?

What’s the deal Sky UK?

(Ps: A link of this blog post has been sent to Sky UK, Red Production Company, and 10 by 10 Entertainment, I’ll update on any replies.)

Posted: March 24th, 2011
Categories: critical thought, hypotheticals, oddities, piracy, pop culture, scams, survival horror, television
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Internet Laird’s and Lord’s of Lochaber Highland Estates (& Ors)

The fake coat of arms used by scammers.

I got bored. As I often do. And you know what happens when I get bored. Someone always ends up crucified. Usually scammers who exploit the stupidity of others, sometimes the stupid for being scammed, but this time around I flogged the self professed Laird’s of Lochaber. A friend of mine bought a square foot of land ages ago on the internet and started posting shit calling himself a Lord, I too own a square foot of land, I bought it purely because I wanted to build a one foot square castle one day, I ignored the big sexy deed scroll in hand ink stating my Lordship’s validity, although retrospectively they did a far better job faking it back in the days of mail order before the internets was readily available. Do note however, my friend was fully aware it was a scam and he too bought it to be a dick, and most probably to build a square foot castle too. Oh, we should totally go to war and raid each others castles. And kick their walls in! :O

Anyhow, I turned to Google and found that the district as an Estate was only registered in 1975 and dissolved in 1996. Ironically they sell ‘woodland plots’ of half and quarter acres for merely 10x the price they extort for a foot square. I actually am wondering whether they legitimately hold right to SELL the land in question.

Wikipedia had several people posting on the Lochaber page claiming to be the current Laird of Lochaber, so I piped up on the discussion page to let them know that it’s scammers who bought a foot of land online.

I turned to google again and found a discussion thread run by the guy selling the land on a forum entitled Highland Titles, ironically the landed gentry in this alternate universe are so poverty stricken they have to have their forums on freeforums.com. I found that the only named admin of the forum was a ‘Lady Arwen’ (clearly one of ‘those types’, we’ve all met them, basement dwelling nutjobs with celtic princess fantasies that lurk MUD’s and MMO’s when they’re not taking up space being hippogoths at SCA gigs) who ironically is morbidly obese, wears black and purple velvet, and cites her interests as “Tolkien, Scotland, Reading Fantasy, Herbology, Cooking” clearly my interpretation of that is along the lines of she cooks brownies with special herbs, read too much Tolkien, and lives in a Fantasy Scotland in her head. She comes from Passadena in Texas, US I might add.

I noted that one critic was cited by the site owner and the rest of the ‘Lairds’ were ripping in to him in a thread entitled “To the critics (competitors) of Lochaber Highland Estates”. Breaking down the psychology applied, they were basing their entire claim upon a dictionary definition of the origin of the term and that it is up to others to disprove their claim. Now to address this as the two elements of logical fallacy they’re employing, firstly the dictionary reference completely neglects to point out that there is a court of law appointed specifically to administer these titles and the arms that go with them, and only this court of law can decide who and who can not use these titles, but further (to their defence, they are clearly idiots for buying something on the internet thinking it’ll give them some form of prestige or respect to begin with, so they’re clearly either morons or merely utterly delusional to start with) and I’ll totally carriage return to give this it’s own line because it’s a common idiotic fallacy you’ll encounter: –

IT IS UP TO THE PERSON MAKING THE CLAIM TO PROVE THE CLAIMS CREDIBILITY, NOT TO ANYONE ELSE TO DISPROVE THE CLAIM.

Now, I feel so much better. The caps was kind of a last minute addition, and it was very satisfying. It wasn’t caps either, I’m that passionate about stamping out moronicism I went the whole hog and held the shift key. Now that’s nerd rage. 😛 Okay, now, where was I? Oh, yes. Well, they were all hurring and durring backing up their fallacious logic and I decided to rain, no, not rain, piss with the power of the gods, like a giant fucking riot water cannon, all over their parade, in their ears, eyes, nose, and I’m pretty sure I got one in the mouth. I couldn’t restrain myself, I had to address their stupidity. So I launched into my vitriolic attack, and hopefully by syndicating it here, and given the popularity of my blog I’ll most likely hijack their keywords, this post alone I know will incur serious financial harm to the owners and operators of the scam, but my reply was along the lines of: –

Whilst I’m aware it’s highly unlikely my reply will remain on this forum without being deleted by the scammers selling land to saps on the interbutts, I’d like to address those poorly educated individuals claiming title to Lairdship, or Lordship.

You are the claimants of the title, it is up to you to prove your claim. It’s not up to the ‘critics (competitors)’ to prove, that logic is utterly flawed and absurd. But, then again, you also believe you hold a Lordship you bought online.

Further, you did throw down the gauntlet asking the critics (competitors, lol) to prove your claims are invalid, allow me to cite the following sources: –

“Scottish Highland Titles”. http://www.faketitles.com. http://www.faketitles.com/html/scottish … itles.html. Retrieved 18 June 2009.
Cramb, Auslan (11 Dec 2004). “How to lord it over your friends for only £29.99″. Telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ … 29.99.html. Retrieved 20 June 2009.

Both sources clearly reflect the view of the Court of the Lord Lyon, which considers these particular titles to be vacuous and meaningless in claim. Now given the absurdity of the claimants to begin with, I’d like to clarify who the Court of the Lord Lyon is, because I honestly doubt the mental acuity of anyone who’d think they can buy gentry or peerage status through a cheap internet transaction.

The Court of the Lord Lyron is the standing court of law regulating heraldry in Scotland, an equivilent of the English College of Arms it maintains the register of grants of arms for all arms and bearings of Scotland as well as the genealogical records involved.

Per the internuts: The Lyon Court is a public body, it is headed by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, who must be legally qualified, as he has criminal jurisdiction in heraldic matters, and the court is fully integrated into the Scottish legal system, including having a dedicated prosecutor, known in Scotland as a Procurator Fiscal. This contrasts with England, where the College of Arms is a private body, and the Court of Chivalry, which is a civil court, has met only once in 230 years, in 1954.

So, your Lairdship is far less valid than my Lordship where I bought a square foot plot of land by mail order back in the early 90′s before internets shysters existed in England. But, that being said, I know for a fact buying a square foot of land is just that, and won’t try to use it to scam respect or attempt to garner positive prejudice from others based purely on my own shortcomings as a man.

FYI, I have syndicated this post on my blog, I’ve got a 4M reader demographic and I enjoy sharing my exploitation of scammers and morons alike.

So I’ll leave you with some (paraphrased) words of a true Laird of Scotland; you may take my post, but you can never take my freedom (of press). You’re a bunch of dolts. (<– He said that, the last part. Prove me wrong. Because y’know, people in your world apparently can make batshit insane claims and it’s up to others to prove their claims wrong. )

I’ll let you folks know if I get a reply, although I’m not holding my breath. Scots-titles.com found another Laird of Lochaber scamming to the extreme and outed him in a post at http://www.scots-titles.com/2011/02/10/reverend-cardinal-lord-dr-kim-moffatt/ – very worth reading, his claims are batshit insane, but there seems to be an underlying pathology behind these individuals where they think they can buy the respect they should be earning through words and deeds, or somehow purchase prestige to make up for a vacuous missing element in their life. Amongst his claims he’s the Reverend Cardinal (Dr) Kim Moffatt Lord of Lochaber. He’s also the Governer of the British East India Company, which he registered as a business name, and a ‘trillionair’ after spending ten pound on a 100 trillion zimbabwian note (the editor at scots-titles points out that the trading cost is actually one quid, irony seeing a scammer get scammed).

The scots-titles editor also has a page on the scam, pointing out that: –

The purchase of land in Scotland is not sufficient, per se, to qualify anyone to legally use the title of Laird.  The title ‘Lord’ is a ‘Peerage title’ (or a courtsy title of a Scottish ‘Law Lord’) and although it is true to say that the word Laird does derive from Lavert, which is the same root as the word Lord, a genuinely recognised Laird, is a member of the Nobilitas Minora, whereas those who are legally entitled to call themselves Lord, belong to the Nobilitas Majora, or the Peerage.  The two terms are certainly not interchangeable.

A Lairdship is, in itself, a title which is linked to the Land, but for it to become a title and part of the name of the individual who owns the land, it is necessary to petition Scotland’s supreme herald, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, for the title to be officially recognised.  The Lord Lyon does not actually recognise anyone as a Laird.  Rather, he recognises their right to a territorial designation.  For example, if someone buys a Scottish estate which for many years has been known as Glensmith, and if this meets the land criteria stipulated by the Lord Lyon (in terms of acreage), on petitioning for a Grant of Arms in that name (or for a change of name certificate if he already has Arms) he will be recognised as “John Smith of Glensmith”.  He is also entitled to call himself “The Laird of Glensmith”.  It is impossible to have numerous “Lairds” of a single Estate at the same time, as has been advertised by these companies. It should also be pointed out that an area of between one and one thousand square feet does not constitute a legitimate “Estate”! If simply being a landowner in Scotland made you a Laird, Lord or Lady then every owner of a house, garden plot or window box would be one….how ridiculous!!

In closing, I’ll end with the paragraph he posted in relation to Mr Kim Moffat’s incredulous claims: The so called Lochaber Coat of Arms displayed on his website, appertaining to his 1sq ft Scottish Estate, leads you to believe he has a Grant of Scottish Arms. Displaying Arms which have not been officially granted to you or to which you do not have a legal right, can lead to prosecution in Scotland where heraldry is carefully and rigorously regulated. In other countries you could merely look foolish and attract a certain amount of ridicule.

So remember, when you see a Lord, Laird or Lady, google their title, if it’s fake, don’t have anything more to do with them. If you’re in the UK, call the police and report it as it’s a criminal offence. You CANNOT buy respect or prestige, so don’t show pity to those who think they can.

(more…)

Posted: March 19th, 2011
Categories: critical thought, hypotheticals, pop culture, rant, scams
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IT Crack Monkey @KevinRuddPM’s Reality Check Bounced

As most of my international readers (and let’s face it, that’s like 800,000 per week of you, Australia only has two modems, and we have to share) are aware, our government here have been pushing an agenda to ‘censor’ the internet with a mandatory ‘clean feed’ for some time. There were protests many years ago to try and stop them but the overall response of the average punter back when they could have made a difference was “It’ll never happen.” so as much as it pains me to say it, we kind of do deserve what we get with that. But recent pure asshattery to come from our parliamentarians–who are so detached from reality they can’t even operate VCR’s, which is ironic as you can’t even buy them anymore–is something that explains why anti-virus companies were very pro-filter.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communication (They don’t represent us, just batshit vocal minorities, I assure you) have stated that all Australian’s should be forced to install anti-virus and firewall software on their computers before being allowed to connect to the internet under a ‘new plan’ to ‘fight cyber crime’. And if their computer did get infected, internet service providers could cut off their connection until the problem was resolved.

Those are two of the recommendations to come from a year-long multi-million inquiry into cyber crime. They spent all the money on K-Rudd’s crack and then did an all nighter the night the findings were due. Results of the inquiry, titled Hackers, Fraudsters and Botnets: Tackling the Problem of Cyber Crime, were released last night in a 260-page report, there is no mention whether it met copyspace clearance however and may have been plagerised from first year ethics students at UWA.

In her foreword, committee chair Belinda Neal said cyber crime had turned into a “sophisticated underground economy”, before taking a rasping breath from the pipe under the table. “In the past decade, cyber crime has grown from the nuisance of the cyber smart hacker into an organised transnational crime committed for vast profit and often with devastating consequences for its victims,” Ms Neal said. I postulate whether she is referring to the ‘russian mobsters’ who ‘hacked’ a dentists website and ‘uploaded child pornography’ to ‘make money’ as Senator Conman Conroy stated when asked why a dentists office was on the super secret government black list.

During its inquiry the committee heard a growing number of Australians were being targeted by cyber criminals and that increasing internet speeds were likely to make the situation worse. Something we don’t inherently need to worry about in Australia given that we still pay several hundred dollars per month for speeds not exceeding ADSL1 technology branded as ADSL2+ with a lot of fine print that anything over 56k dialup ‘in their terms’ is ADSL2+ (forget international standards here folks).

It also heard the problem was costing Australian businesses as much as $649 million a year. Including dentists with large kiddy porn collections replacing their virtual store front. The committee looked at several different examples of cyber crime, including hacking, phishing, malware and botnets. They intently carried out this research by leeching torrents, using Back Orifice on inter-office computers, and asking each other for their banking details from fraudulent hotmail accounts, such as imnotsenatorconroy@hotmail.com.

Among its final 34 recommendations were:

  • The creation of an around-the-clock cyber crime helpline. This, I agree with. I don’t pay for phone calls so I will ring them and chant “Cocks, cocks, cocks.” until the end of time.
  • Changes to the law to make unauthorised installation of software illegal. What the fuck, seriously.
  • Companies who release IT products with security vulnerabilities should be open to claims for compensation by consumers. This I agree with. Microsoft, give me moneys.
  • Another of its recommendations was to create a new “e-security code of practice” that would define the responsibilities of internet service providers and their customers. Cocks, cocks, cocks.
  • The code of practice would see companies like Telstra give their customers security advice when they signed up and inform them if their computer ever appeared to be compromised. More fine print we won’t read and will click yes to.

For their part, customers would have to install anti-virus and firewall software before their connection was activated and endeavour to keep the software up-to-date. It pisses me off enough as it is when they ask what kind of computer I’m using to access the net, when half the time I’m not even using a computer at all, nor any OS they’d have heard of. Find me anti-virus software for my xbox, or my iPhone hard-booted to run Lunix (yes, Lunix, no, it’s not a typo)  please K-Rudd.

If a customer’s computer was infected by malware, the service provider could introduce gradual restrictions and eventually cut off their internet connection entirely until the machine was “remediated”. This implies that the Government will not only be ‘filtering’ us, but also packet sniffing our shit in a clandestine way.

This entire thing just makes me want to pre-emptively ring that hotline, or maybe Senator Conroy’s office. In fact, brb, cocks, cocks, cocks time.

Posted: June 22nd, 2010
Categories: critical thought, epiclullz, journalism, op ed, piracy, politix, rant, scams, technology, vox pop
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@AustralianArmy Pays Peanuts, Shocked at Getting Monkeys

This morning Australian news sensationalised (gasp, shock) a new Auditor-General’s report reveals more than 13,000 soldiers are not considered battle ready. About 7300 had either failed the basic fitness test – the most arduous element of which is a 2.4km run – or hadn’t done the test in the last six months. About 5800 Diggers failed weapons proficiency tests or were overdue for refreshers.

The Auditor-General found only 18,900 soldiers, about 53 per cent of troops, were ready to go at short notice.

Now let’s draw things into perspective. The Australian Bureau of Statistics cites that the average weekly income of an Australian is $1,268.50 with the average public sector employee being exactly a hundred more at $1,368.50. There are several methods of entry to employment with the Australian Defence Force (ADF), but I’m writing this primarily as a post-grad qualified guy who dabbled with the idea of off-setting university costs with enrolment for some time before realising it just had no financial worth at all. If you’re a professional with even reasonable qualifications you can easily make four to five times in private sector as you would with the ADF. But let’s assume you’re not.

Let’s assume you’re a regular person who signs up at age 18, for the first two years you’ll be getting 2/5ths of the average weekly wage Australian’s would get elsewhere. On completion of training, you’ll get a base wage of $25-$30k based on the salary scale on the ADF website. At the HIGHEST non-commission rank you can reach (and let’s face it, a lot of ADF personel can spend twenty years in and not get a commission) CPO/WO2/FSGT you will be on $1,138.53 so you’re still falling $100 short of the national, or $200 of pub. sec.

The biggest insult of it all is, part time ADF employees don’t pay income tax on their ADF salary, whereas full timers pay the same income tax as civillians. So drop several more hundred off that reach for full-timers as Australia is one of the worlds highest taxed nations (not to mention surprise tax, as I like to call it, on almost everything you purchase, from GST, to stamp duty, to other mythical unicorn taxes, speeding fines, bus lane fines, parking fines that hedge just short of $300 a piece, you name it).

So it’s safe to say we’re a reasonably expensive nation to live in, the ADF are paying fuck all, and then people rage at them for having people who can’t be arsed. Would you do your job for their wage? Would you do THEIR job for their wage? Fuck no.

Food for thought.

1 368.50
Posted: June 18th, 2010
Categories: critical thought, hypotheticals, news, op ed, rant, scams
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Lisa Williams (@lwmedium) Charlatan ‘Psychic’

Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. Where do I begin? I recently saw an advert for her upcoming show, that was filmed by the Lifetime channel. She opens with her common pitch line, “Do you want to know everything?” What you won’t hear her telling you is that she is merely a charlatan who exploits the pain and suffering of people grieving using cold reading. Let’s set one thing straight, psychics and mediums do not exist. Conmen and women do. There has not been, in thousands of years of scientific documentation, one SINGLE example of the supernatural or paranormal existing under ANY scrutiny by learned and educated persons. It’s not because academics are closed minded, or have it in for the little guy, or have ANY other motivation other than pushing forward common sense, critical thought, and legitimate honesty of fact. Many deluded people out there honestly think it goes as far as there being complex conspiracies to conceal the ‘truth’ about ‘human psychic potential’, et cetera. In 1988 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences gave a report on the subject that concluded there is “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.”[1]

Let’s examine this critically: Not a scrap of evidence ever put forwards that can stand up to scrutiny, or giant illuminati plot to enslave and opress humanity. You tell me which one comes up in that fight.

Cold reading, combined with warm or hot reading, is the method by which all ‘psychics’ operate. Many people do this for a living as mentalists, or magicians; these people when asked will usually be outright honest about their art and it’s complete lack of supernatural or paranormal involvement. In 2004, Williams gave a reading to a senior staff member of TV host Merv Griffin. As a result, Griffin worked with her to host a show of her own. The proverbial path to ruin is laid with good intent.  Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead aired for two seasons on the Lifetime network 2006-2007 and is set to air in Australia shortly. Her show Lisa Williams: Voices From the Other Side ran for five consecutive nights on the network in October 2008. The shows followed Williams on a typical day, as she claims to have ‘communicated with the dead,’ ‘investigates haunted houses,’ and conducts other ‘spirit-seeking activities.’ She claims she has spoken to Bob Hope, Princess Diana, Natalie Wood, Marilyn Monroe and Ray Charles after they died.

Let’s examine a well known psychic critically: A 2001 Time article reported that psychic John Edward allegedly utilized hot reading on his television show, Crossing Over, where an audience member who received a reading was suspicious of prior behavior from Edward’s aides, who had struck up conversations with audience members and asked them to fill out cards detailing their family trees.[2] In December 2001, Edward was alleged to have used foreknowledge to hot read in an interview on the television show Dateline, where a reading for a cameraman was based on knowledge gained in conversation some hours previously, yet presented as if he was unaware of the cameraman’s background.[3] In his 2001 book, John Edward denied ever using foreknowledge, cold or hot reading.[4]

I am VERY familiar with these methods and have used them out of the blue on random people in the streets of Sydney to illustrate the power of commonality to friends, and I know a close friend of mine, mentalist and stage magician Ryle Hilton, is exceptional at his art and absolutely blows peoples minds. I am not detracting from the SKILL involved in these acts, merely that using it to con and exploit people into believing only YOU can give them closure with their dead loved ones is abhorrent.

The following is sourced under fair use from Same Same, a publication for the Australian Gay and Lesbian Community that addresses some of the core elements of fail that is applied when handling ‘psychics’ in the press, with my comments in brackets.

Over the years Lisa has been challenged by many skeptics, including her own father. “He’s one of the biggest skeptics around!” she laughs. “But Dad has also seen first hand what I can do, and he’s seen how I give people a feeling of closure, and he says ‘you know what Lisa, I can’t take that away from you’.” [The closure given is fair enough, but the financial exploitation is unforgivable.]

One of the most public challenges Lisa has faced was with a skeptic named Laura on an episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. Lisa said that during the reading she kept offering Laura details that should have resonated – like her father’s name, or that he was a ballroom dancer – but Laura remained unconvinced, and was intent on getting cold, hard facts. [Note the use of negative terms such as ‘skeptic’ just because someone was unconvinced.]

“I gave her the name John, but she wanted his full name, that kind of thing. I told her ‘I am only telling you what he is giving me, I can’t make it change’. I almost got up and walked away. I said, ‘if you’re not open to this then there’s no point in me being here’.” [Ie: Dummy spit.]

Lisa says that she often reads comments about her in online forums, where people dispute her authenticity. “People say ‘oh Lisa Williams gets all the ticket data and uses that to do background checks on people who come to her show’. Well hello, it’s just me. I don’t have a team of researchers. I certainly don’t put microphones in the bathrooms or under the seats. I laugh at it. Of course, when it comes to TV, the producers get given a certain story. The talent tells them ‘I want to communicate with my mum because of…’ but often there’s another story that comes out or that I bring out. [Lol.]

The last paragraph was the best, she admits that–like John Edwards–she has access to the core information, the ‘other story’ that ‘comes out’ is where the cold/warm/hot reading elements come into this.

I figured I would take these channels publishing her crap to bat and sent an email, given that the Lifestyle Channel and W are sponsors of my online life and commonly compensate me for critical evaluation (public or otherwise) of their programs or services, and considering I have a larger demographic reach than Lisa it will be interesting to see if they make a stoic legitimate call or just kowtow to a fast easy buck like a heroin dealer down a dark alley.

Here is a copy of one of my emails in it’s entirety: –

I am writing as a blogger who [details of financial arragements excised]. I write specifically to request that–in an effort to maintain fairness, legitimacy, honesty and integrity–that you cease publication of Lisa Williams, the ‘medium’ and other such charlatans.

Sure, you get viewers, sure you make a quick buck; but these people are exploiting the ignorance and idiocy of the masses, much like a drug dealer who peddles his wares amongst the foolish. These lecherous conmen and women exploit the pain and suffering of people by lying through their teeth, and there are avenues to be pursued for large financial and fame rewards if any individual can prove ANY element of the supernatural or paranormal exists through JREF, however most of these scum refuse to claiming they don’t want ‘wealth’ (even though they charge extortionate fees to fundamentally give people a pat on the back and tell them their dead family still love them), and none of these people pursue this proof of their talents for obvious reasons.

I am posting this letter on my blog, which will be replicated throughout my social networks and blogs demographic reach meaning over half a million people will view this within 24 hours. I would like a reply to this, and I advise you now it will be published as will your choice to continue to air these exploitative shows or otherwise. I hope you make the right decision.

So for now, I advise all of you to pass this on to your wanky airy fairy friends who believe in the supernatural and like a suppository of testicular fortitude it should thwart their idiocy, and stay tuned for the results of my correspondence to these networks, if they even dare reply. Oh, and Lisa, and I know your PR agent has shown you this because with my reach they wouldn’t be worth a pinch of shit if they haven’t, this isn’t a PR nightmare for you honey; it’s just a wake up call that you should get a day job that DOESN’T involve exploitation. In 50 years people like you will be locked up in prison for these crimes you perpetrate on innocent and vulnerable people.

And people like me, who’re probably only in for a night stay due to drunk and disorderly in public, will make sure you drop the soap. 😉

References:

  1. ^ Druckman, D. and Swets, J. A. eds. (1988). Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories and Techniques. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.. p. 22. ISBN 0-309-07465-7.
  2. ^ Leon Jaroff (2001-02-25). “Talking to the Dead”. Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/columnist/jaroff/article/0,9565,100555,00.html. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
  3. ^ Joe Nickell. “John Edward: Hustling the Bereaved”. CSICOP. http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-11/i-files.html. Retrieved 2006-06-14.
  4. ^ Edward, John (2001). Crossing Over. Jodere Group. ISBN 1-58872-002-0.

Dear @Telstra, Why Are you Charging Me Crazy Prices?

Many of you remember my encounter with TPG and the drama that ensued because Telstra reconnected 40 year old infrastructure instead of replacing it with a new connection as contracted to do. That led to me (four months and 120+ phone calls later) calling Telstra’s complaints department and talking to a lovely girl in the Gold Coast named Janice, she didn’t quite understand my complaint (re: infrastructure) and put me through to bloke named John, her supervisor. He didn’t understand my problem and told me that the ‘network boundary’ is the line-in of my property; which I later found out is incorrect, as I stated to him, and the network boundary is the first point inside the house, which meant the fault on the line was on their equipment which made sense as I sure as fuck had nothing connected to it.

He seemed frustrated and asked why I don’t just use Bigpond so Telstra can immediately fix the line problem, I pointed out that they’re easily 50-60 times the price of their competitors, he disagreed and said he can offer me 200gb @ 20mbps for $89, I said hell yeah sign me up. He bumped me back through to Janice, and ten minutes in my phone died. After calling back, repeatedly, no one at Telstra would match the price offered to me. The closest offer I got was $110 for 100GB @ 20mbps inclusive of line rental (at $9 pm) and a promise that if I filed a complaint someone will get back to me as to the original pricing and fix it up.

My first bill came in for the phone line, $348. What .. the fuck? I called them, turns out they ballsed up and had an installation fee attached to the account creation, even though the line was in place and had been in place for six months, I called up to complain, the guy asked ‘how much of your bill are you contesting?’ and I asked him whether that’s how they price things, they just charge you random large amounts then ask how much you’re willing to pay. They said they’d fix it.

Then I get my first internet bill, $756.20. What the fuck? I’m glad I made sure on my contract that they MUST provide the service at 20 MBPS or I’m not paying a cent, because I’m definitely not paying $756.20 for what three major service providers would charge $39.95 for.

So, this is me venting again about another useless as tits on a bull ISP, and I bloody well hope they read this, and realise, that my 340,000 viewer demographic all know they’re stupid.

Telstra, contact me about this immediately, and if you don’t have this problem fixed by the time you call me, and if you aren’t offering to HALF the cost of my ‘ADSL2+’ because it’s only running at HALF the speed you GUARANTEED, then save me the effort and just remind me to file a TIO complaint and take you through the local consumer tribunal.

Posted: May 15th, 2010
Categories: consumer reviews, rant, scams
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Botnet Targets Servers for DDoS Use

Amusing article about a not so secret bnet management system and php sploit: –

Researchers at Imperva have discovered an ‘experimental’ botnet that uses around 300 hijacked web servers to launch high-bandwidth DDoS attacks.

The servers are all believed to be open to an unspecified security vulnerability that allows the attacker, who calls him or herself ‘Exeman’, to infect them with a tiny, 40-line PHP script. This includes a simple GUI from which the attacker can return at a later date to enter in the IP, port and duration numbers for the attack that is to be launched.

But why servers in the first place? Botnets are built from PCs and rarely involve servers.

According to Imperva’s CTO, Amachai Shulman, they have no antivirus software and offer high upload bandwidth, typically 10-50 times that of a consumer PC. Are there disadvantages to this? There are simply fewer of them, the attacker needs to find vulnerable machines using PHP, and they appear to need manual control, although Shulman did say that attacks could probably be automated using a separate script.

Imperva uncovered the attack by obtaining the server attack source code, which was simply run through Google, revealing a list of servers infected with it. The company was then able to watch as the attacker used a compromised server to launch a real denial-of-service attack on a Dutch ISP. The purpose is probably extortion-related.

The controller of the botent had used the Tor anonymity system to hide his or her incoming connections, which made it impossible to judge location. The servers themselves were lone servers at hosting companies, perhaps ones not carefully monitoring outgoing traffic patterns.

Would hosting companies or website owners know they were being hijacked by one of the Internet’s oddest botnets? Most likely, only if the authorities or third-party ISP comes calling with complaints of unwanted Internet traffic.

The botnet’s GUI hints that the hijack program, and perhaps the botnet itself, was probably created to be rented out to third-parties. A message in the simple interface reminds its users “Don’t DoS yourself nub.”

Posted: May 13th, 2010
Categories: hack, journalism, news, piracy, pop culture, scams, technology
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Woke Up Dead, Spammy Zombies

The SciFiTv channel in Australia has been airing a lot of crappy infomercial-disguised-as-edgy-hipster-shows of late, the most recent shows the advertising heavyweight of the ‘zombie’ genre mixed with allusions to viral marketing. First, here’s what wiki has to say:

“Woke Up Dead is an American horror/comedy web series starring Jon Heder (best known for Napoleon Dynamite) as a young man who awakes in a full bathtub after ‘drowning’ and has no heartbeat, prompting his friends to believe him to be a zombie.

The show premiered on Sony Pictures Entertainment owned Crackle on October 5, 2009. Woke Up Dead is a production of Electric Farm Entertainment, a company that produced Afterworld, which currently runs on Crackle, along with Gemini Division and Valemont.

The show is executive produced by Brent V. Friedman, Stan Rogow, and Jeff Sagansky. Heder’s co-stars are Krysten Ritter, Josh Gad, and Wayne Knight. New episodes streamed weekdays through the end of October 2009.

The first episode was included on the Zombieland DVD. A season one DVD is in production. It is currently unknown if there will be a second season.”

Those familiar with Afterworld will remember it was a good concept wrecked by bad production and so intermittant you’d never follow the plot, not to mention unless you were in the US you couldn’t view episodes online.

Gemini Devision went one step further into the bowels of Internet fail by portraying it’s narrative as the vlog of some silly bitch on some urgent super mission being leaked. It was PACKED with promotional advertising which left you boggling at how they squeezed ten seconds of trashy hack narrative into four minutes of epilepsy inducing sub and paraliminal marketing gaffes.

So to does this next ‘feature’ from Electronic Farm disappoint. With blatent advertising segues in dialogue disengaging the viewer it forcibly pimps Kodal, Jeep, Ford, Doritos and Motorola. Many items are changed to have their logo physically in view, where logos aren’t found on the items in the real world.

Electric Farm breeds a lot of cows, because they sure as fuck shovel out more bullshit than any other ‘production company’ at present. Maybe film makers will take note of it’s limited success even with horrible advertising, or that of Dead Set (a zombie serial aired on BBC) and bring us a REAL zombie series?

Climate Backflip by @KevinRuddPM

“Absolute political cowardice… an absolute failure of leadership.”1 That’s what Kevin Rudd said just months ago about those who wanted to delay action on climate change. He was right.

Yesterday Kevin Rudd betrayed his promise to act on climate change, deferring action until 2013: six years after he called climate change the moral challenge of our age.

So what can we do about it? To start, we have to ensure this doesn’t go unnoticed – doesn’t go unanswered. Every Australian who took the Prime Minister at his word should see this video of his climate backflip.

The Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was a mess of a policy: a paltry 5% target, and what the Govenrment’s own advisor, Prof. Ross Garnaut, called “one of the worst examples of policy making we have seen on major issues in Australia.”2 But this is about far more than another policy delay.

Time and again, Kevin Rudd has betrayed the support Australians gave him last election. And yesterday, he broke faith with us on “the great challenge of our time.”3 It is time to say enough. It is time to take a stand and declare a vote of no confidence in Kevin Rudd’s leadership on climate change.

We could say a lot about this latest backflip, but Kevin Rudd himself perhaps said it best. Here’s what he said just months ago about delaying climate action:

“….When you strip away all the political rhetoric, all the political excuses, there are two stark choices – action or inaction.”

“…The resolve of the Australian Government is clear: we choose action, and we do so because Australia’s fundamental economic and environmental interests lie in action. Action now. Not action delayed.”

“…the eighth excuse cannot be far away – which will be to wait until the next year or the year after until all the rest of the world has acted at which time Australia will act.

“…What absolute political cowardice. What an absolute failure of leadership. What an absolute failure of logic.”4

The Prime Minister said it right, what absolute cowardice. And as he said in that same speech:

“It’s time to remove any polite veneer from this debate. The stakes are that high.”

Right again: it’s time to remove the veneer and speak truth to power. Please share this post with friends, and click below to join the vote of no confidence in Kevin Rudd’s climate decision, just a warning though do NOT donate to GetUp!, their donations are spent how they see fit and it is VERY rare they will put much of the funds to use on the topic at hand. One example was the anti-censorship issue, they raised $300,000 and donated $1,000 to the cause and spent the rest on self promotion under cause-oriented guise.

www.getup.org.au/campaign/climateinaction

PS – On refugees, on human rights and now on climate change, Kevin Rudd has broken faith with all Australians.

–Sources–

1The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, Distinguished Speaker Series, the Lowy Institue, 06/11/ 2009.
2Prof. Ross Garnaut, The 7.30 Report, ABC, broadcast: 12/10/2009, reporter: Kerry O’Brien.
3The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, Opening Remarks to the National Climate Change Summit, Parliament House, Canberra, 31/03/07
4The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, Distinguished Speaker Series, the Lowy Institue, 06/11/ 2009.

Posted: April 29th, 2010
Categories: critical thought, general, op ed, politix, pop culture, rant, scams
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“You Can’t Make Money Online,” I was Wrong, Barely

As most of you are aware I’ve been examining online ‘money making’ drivel and usually exposing the bullshit behind it and the con artists who’re reaping the rewards. From ‘get paid to tweet’ to MLM I’ve pointed out quite a few organisations and people who are dodgy. This time I’ve been proven wrong. WHAT? ME? WRONG? Only marginally though. $5 in a month is NOT an income.

Credit where credit is due, if you really want to be a knob and try and make a buck on the internet, try Sponsored Tweets, they’re run by IZEA a ‘Social Media Marketingbusiness with decent sponsors. Lifestyle Channel have taken an interest in my blog adventures and whilst I am being derisive by saying $5 in a month that’s because it took a month for them to send me an offer, it works out to be $5 per tweet they feed into my stream, which could be a money winner if you talk about crap that will attract the right sponsors I guess? Their banners aren’t all that crappy too if you’re into the whole affiliate marketing crap, but I for one don’t see any value for time in that stuff. Example below.

SponsoredTweets referral badge

Anyway, that’s as much as an update you’re going to get, so you CAN make money online but not enough to buy a beer down the pub. 🙂

Posted: April 23rd, 2010
Categories: consumer reviews, lifestyle, op ed, pop culture, rant, scams, technology, twitter
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Bio Channel’s Psychic Kids; Mock or documentary?

Once in a while you come across a piece of hack documentary type puff that blows irresponsibility out the water. One child claims she was first blessed with her ‘talent’ when she was two years old, simply because she wandered away from her house and blamed it on a ‘little girl’ which the parents fabricated an anecdotal story around. “There’s no reason to think these people are lying, why would they?” says the mother. Shot in the dark here love, but I’d guess for the epic fucking attention they get for lying through their teeth.

Sounds whack? That’s the bottom line of ‘Psychic Kids’ a Biography channel d(/m)ocumentary using various fallacies and props as outlined in my last post regarding quakcery and touchy feely rubbish, if you watched Here Be Dragons, the video on YouTube about critical thinking, you’ll watch this and facepalm double handed just like I am.

Stuff like this really makes me worried. Children are impresionable, it’s far more dangerous putting something so under the radar as encouraging psychological illness replication, as far as behaviour goes, than it would be violence, given the predisposition for ‘psychics’ to be depicted as loved and special, treasured almost–albeit by those who fail to think critically and believe in unicorns too–and thus is something more children would wish to attain as far as recognition goes. That being said, whilst I disagree, and whilst I can see the damage humouring assinine material such as this and appreciate it is a large amount of socio-economic damage,

The father of one of the children labels himself a skeptic, and illustrates freely that she was a bit of a nutjob kid with mental problems and used this as an out. Although in the very next scene we have a camp old man ‘psychic’ reaffirming her delusions claiming he has had psychic powers forever and starts asking how many ‘spirit beings’ she detects in the area, naturally she spits out epic dramu, but such is life.

In fact ALL of the children on the show suffered bullying and ostricization, this they will clearly blame on people ‘not understanding’ their abilities as opposed to rational people disliking attention whoring irrational twats brainwashed by their crystal fiddling dope smoking parents.

I think the worst part is a scene where one of the children is seen being coaxed to go to the basement in the middle of the night to ‘communicate’ with the spirit child that dwells there, where we see gaudy night vision (sadly no Paris Hilton in sight) and a poor arse replication of Most Haunted crossed with Blair Witch Project and a ball that is moving in a lazy circle due to a weighted patch on the side of it which is reacted to in a manner that this invisible child is pushing the ball back.

Overall, it’s another case of this memetic cancer in our society that needs some rapid chemo.

Posted: April 21st, 2010
Categories: critical thought, rant, scams, science, television
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Quackery Alive and Well in 2010

I was recently suggested a read by a friend, Dr. John L. Turner (add him on twitter, @DrJohnLTurner), of a document entitled Bioelectromagnetic Healing, A Rationale for Its Use by Thomas F. Valone, Ph.D. published in 2003. This work was vanity published by his own sock puppet ‘charity’ organisation called the ‘Integrity Research Institute,’ which he is, surprise surprise, the President of. A brief review of his curriculum vitae reveals that he has no published works in any respectable scientific journal, nor any peer reviewed scientific journal or publication out of all his publications; they’re all primarily through his ‘Integrity Research Institute.’

REMEMBER: PSEUDOSCIENCE KILLS.
Click here to review individual instances of pseudoscience and alternative medicine being at fault in over 368,379 people dying, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages.

I don’t mean to rag on him too much by the way, he seems to be a TAFE teacher (by Australian standards, or primarily a ‘community college’ instructor by US standards) and has clearly worked with some brilliant chaps too; my disdain isn’t against this individual but merely his actions as a proponent of deadly conspiracy and pseudoscience peddling. That being said he can be found on YouTube making an ass of himself talking about UFOs and conspiracies.

Before reading through this review, or maybe even after, watch this video on critical thinking for a general primer on how to approach … well, just about anything utilising the illumination of critical thought and the scientific mind!

I was cynical from the commencement reading this material, as I have read hundreds of papers debunking magetic therapy, the dedication at the begining of the work mentioning a naturopath was not reassuring. The preface is a very stereotypical opening shot of anecdote, as with most ‘alternative medicine‘ someone always knows someone who X, Y and Z, but sadly none of these people manage to deliver even a scrap of scientific proof nor are any of these wonderous revolutionary discoveries ever distributed to peer reviewed journals where the reading (and commenting) audience are medically or scientifically trained. We all know why that is.

The kicker that already got my eyes rolling out of my head was the defecting Russian scientist, who spoke of awesome ‘energy healing‘ methods through magnetic devices which, when pointed at the ear of a subject with an ear infection for a few minutes, would destroy the infection. If ANYONE can reproduce that in a lab under ANY form of scientific scrutiny, I will gladly sell all my possessions, hand them the cash, then promptly jump off a cliff. I shit you not, I WILL stake my entire life on the fact that ALL alternative medicine is a farce. A dangerous farce at that, killing millions the world over who, through ignorance, or irresponsibility of others putting forth puff where one should be proposing medicine and science, die and cause massive financial, emotional, and general harm to people every day. I feel safe in my bet on this one though: –

“I know of no scientist who takes this claim seriously…It’s another fad. They come and go like copper bracelets and crystals and all of these things, and this one will pass too.” –Robert Park of the American Physical Society.

“Iron atoms in a magnet are crammed together in a solid state about one atom apart from one another. In your blood only four iron atoms are allocated to each hemoglobin molecule, and they are separated by distances too great to form a magnet. This is easily tested by pricking your finger and placing a drop of your blood next to a magnet. ” –Michael Shermer*

“The more extreme claims of magnetic therapy, such as curing cancer by hanging supermagnets around your neck, are not only nonsense but also dangerous, since they may divert patients from seeking appropriate treatment from mainstream medicine. Magnetic jewelry and most other magnetic-therapy products probably are harmless beyond a waste of money.” –James D. Livingston*

By page 4 the author is already claiming magnets are ‘the medicine of the future’, an ongoing cliche comment from all alternative medicine and snake oil peddlers in general. This magnet shit was mostly hashed out in the 70′s, with magnetic rooms, or ion charging units in sweat lodges in Europe would charge tens of thousands for ‘therapy,’ or the pleasure of sitting on a seat awkwardly in the middle of a room in your underwear whilst your healers snort the cash you’ve given them like hoovers. The whole ‘electro’ fad was exhausted by the 1930′s and debunked by most educated fellows.

One can’t go very far in the realm of ‘alternative medicine’ without striking on an Edison or Tesla reference, this work doesn’t disappoint, albeit I did find the uber professionalism of the author in one outstanding statement that pretty much sets the feel for the rest of the narrative of pseudoscience: –

Key sections are noted with a 🙂 symbol to indicate importance.

Brilliant, right? In the 1930′s, as the author even states, such ridiculous claims were put forwards such as Tesla’s high frequency currents “are bringing about a highly beneficial result in dealing with cancer, surpassing anything that could be accomplished with ordinary surgery.” Statements like that are what people term as anecdotal; they’re not scientific, nor is any credential other than that of the conman or his associates put on the line. If it were submitted for peer review scientific journals by modern standards they’d be ridiculed openly and debunked, if not outright exposed, as phoneys. We all know electricity won’t cure cancer. If it did, we wouldn’t be spending billions in cancer research, nor spending even more in socialist states like Australia to fund the treatment of cancer patients if mere electro-shock will cure it.

Tim Harlow, general practitioner, Colin Greaves, research fellow, Adrian White, senior research fellow, Liz Brown, research assistant, Anna Hart, statistician, Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine conducted a large scale scientific examination of energy healing, with a focus on magnets, these findings were published in an esteemed and peer reviewed journal, British Medical Journal, Dec. 2004.

Skip to the bottom of this article to see other findings from other scientists that have been submitted to REAL journals and published BY presses that aren’t owned by those conducting the research.

That being said, we still have some whacky psychiatrists (mostly in Western Australia at Graylands (movies have been made about that place and this practice) who believe that electro-shock therapy is effective in dealing with depression and anxiety conditions. The figures probably come from the fact people will behave the way the doctors want because they don’t want a fucking jumper cable put to their temples again; not to mention in extreme cases these practices cause indirect lobotomies, but have as unpredictable a result as inserting a screw driver into your cars ignition, hitting it with a 20 lb sledge hammer, and hoping it starts.

By page 12 the author had lost me with far too much blatent pseudo-science, so I decided to look into him a bit more, examine his writing style. He seems to apply many footnotes, but I noticed that there are none beyond the 90s if not even the 70s that AREN’T published in some wanky new age touchy feely hippy publication, or vanity pressing. All the rest of the footnotes are from things from the late 1870s through to the 1930s, so we’re already dealing with someone who is structuring their research to suit their argument, as opposed to conducting research to present their argument be it right or wrong.

By page 13 the author is citing conspiracy theory books claiming that there is suppression by ‘big pharma’ to prevent the world being this wonderful utopia as peddled by snake oil salesmen. At this point I realised I could not go any further without losing all respect for myself. Cute read, non-scientific, all point of view, all flawed research.

Further reading:

  • Colbert, A. P., Wahbeh, H., Harling, N., Connelly, E., Schiffke, H. C., Forsten, C., Gregory, W. L., Markov, M. S., Souder, J. J., Elmer, P., King, V. (2009). Static Magnetic Field Therapy: A Critical Review of Treatment Parameters. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 6: 133-139 [Abstract] [Full text]
  • Boutron, I., Moher, D., Altman, D. G., Schulz, K. F., Ravaud, P., for the CONSORT Group, (2008). Extending the CONSORT Statement to Randomized Trials of Nonpharmacologic Treatment: Explanation and Elaboration. ANN INTERN MED 148: 295-309 [Abstract] [Full text]
  • Rumbaut, R. E., Mirkovic, D. (2008). Magnetic therapy for edema in inflammation: a physiological assessment. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol. 294: H19-H20 [Full text]
  • Barron, M. C., Rubin, B. R. (2007). Managing Osteoarthritic Knee Pain. J Am Osteopath Assoc 107: ES21-ES27 [Abstract] [Full text]
  • Pittler, M. H. MD PhD, Brown, E. M. BSc, Ernst, E. MD PhD (2007). Static magnets for reducing pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. CMAJ 177: 736-742 [Abstract] [Full text]
  • Katz, W. A. (2007). Themed Review: Nonpharmacologic Approaches to Osteoarthritis. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE 1: 249-255 [Abstract]
  • Kuipers, N. T., Sauder, C. L., Ray, C. A. (2007). Influence of static magnetic fields on pain perception and sympathetic nerve activity in humans. J. Appl. Physiol. 102: 1410-1415 [Abstract] [Full text]
  • Bjordal, J, Conaghan, P G (2006). NSAIDs in osteoarthritis: irreplaceable or troublesome guidelines?. Br. J. Sports. Med. 40: 285-286 [Full text]
  • Finegold, L., Flamm, B. L (2006). Magnet therapy. BMJ 332: 4-4 [Full text]
  • Rubin, B. R. (2005). Management of Osteoarthritic Knee Pain. J Am Osteopath Assoc 105: S23-S28 [Abstract] [Full text]
  • Winemiller, M. H., Billow, R. G., Laskowski, E. R., Harmsen, W. S. (2005). Effect of Magnetic vs Sham-Magnetic Insoles on Nonspecific Foot Pain in the Workplace: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Mayo Clin Proc. 80: 1138-1145 [Abstract]
  • McDonald, H. L (2005). Patients who wore standard magnetic bracelets reported reduced pain from osteoarthritis of the hip or knee compared with patients wearing placebo bracelets. Evid. Based Nurs. 8: 89-89 [Full text]
  • McCrory, P (2005). The power of placebo. Br. J. Sports. Med. 39: 125-125 [Full text]
  • (2005). Robin Goodfellow (44-3). Rheumatology (Oxford) 44: 418-418 [Full text]
Posted: April 20th, 2010
Categories: consumer reviews, critical thought, journalism, lifestyle, op ed, pop culture, rant, reviews, scams, science, technology
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Games Retailer Fine Print of ‘Immortal Soul’ Ownership

A game retailer revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of online shoppers, thanks to a clause in their terms and conditions.  FOXNews.com reported the retailer, British firm GameStation, added the “immortal soul clause” to the contract shoppers signed before making any online purchases earlier this month.

It states that customers grant the company the right to claim their soul.

“By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions.”

GameStation’s form also points out that “we reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction.”

The terms of service were updated on April Fool’s Day as a gag, but the retailer did so to make a very real point.

They said no one reads the online terms and conditions of shopping and companies are free to insert whatever language they want into the documents.

The company noted that it would not be enforcing the ownership rights and planned to email customers nullifying any claim on their soul.

Posted: April 18th, 2010
Categories: consumer reviews, game reviews, games, pop culture, rant, scams, technology
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Goldman Sachs Finally Charged for Fraud

For more switched on American’s this is good news, as Goldman Sachs utilised the GFC and government funds to exploit American tax payers, with tax payers money they bought out people’s homes that were foreclosed and sold them back into the market with a massive markup months later, shafting everyone along the way. Excerpt below: –

A US watchdog has charged top Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs with financial fraud and raised the prospect of a wider crackdown.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in a civil suit, accused Goldman of “defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts” about a product based on sub-prime mortgage-backed securities.

The securities were a key contributor to the financial crisis that peaked in 2008 because many contained risky mortgages.

The SEC said Goldman failed to tell investors that a major hedge fund which helped put together the so called collateralised debt obligation (CDO), was at the same time betting against it.

Posted: April 18th, 2010
Categories: consumer reviews, news, scams
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Net Entrepreneur Daniel Tzvetkoff faces 75 Years

Online entrepreneur Daniel Tzvetkoff faces 75 years in a US prison after being charged in relation to $584 million money-laundering scheme.

The 27-year-old was arrested in Las Vegas on Friday and appeared in a federal court, where he was detained until a bail hearing on Wednesday (US time).

A relative unknown only two years ago, Ipswich-born Tzvetkoff shot to prominence in 2008 as the founder of online payment processing company Intabill.

Tzvetkoff’s lawyer, Mace Yampolsky, told The Sunday Mail his client was “distraught” and would apply for bail.

According to a 15-page indictment, Tzvetkoff faces charges of money laundering, money laundering conspiracy, gambling conspiracy and bank fraud conspiracy.

Prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office allege Tzvetkoff assisted illegal online gambling companies to launder about $US540 million ($A584 million) into offshore accounts.

Tzvetkoff allegedly duped banks – which have bans on internet credit card gambling – into believing the gambling transactions were actually ordinary transactions.

He was then able to use what is known as the “Automated Clearing House system” (ACH) to run hundreds of millions of dollars between the US and a web of companies in the British Virgin Islands.

Emails obtained by the FBI, and detailed in the indictment, allege an unnamed co-conspirator boasted they had hired programmers to develop “unique” websites for shelf companies so if someone was “checking the companies out there is absolutely no way to tie the companies together”.

A minute later, Tzvetkoff replied: “This is all perfect!”, authorities allege.

At its peak, Intabill employed 120 people in its Milton office.

Tzvetkoff made The Sunday Mail’s 2008 Rich List, with a personal wealth of $82 million and appeared to have it all – including an 18-month-old son and partner.

But his world rapidly unravelled last year, when he was hit with a $100 million law suit by business partner Sam Sciacca.

But now he faces an even more serious fight, far away from the rolling surf of the Gold Coast. According to the indictment, he created a number of shelf companies in the British Virgin Islands – complete with phony websites and unrelated names.

Emails in the document allege Tzvetkoff took a lead role in telling Intabill employees to lie to banks about the business.

Another email by Tzvetkoff directed an employee to “buy some shelf companies that the BVI’s (apparently a reference to the British Virgin Islands) will own . . . We need to then rename each company to be called something process related.”

Tzvetkoff’s father, Kim Tzvetkoff, said he was unaware of the unfolding events surrounding his son. “We will do everything we can to support Daniel,” he said.

THE RISE AND FALL OF DANIEL TZVETKOFF

AUGUST 2001: BT Projects founded

FEBRUARY 2007: Online payment company Intabill registered

MARCH 2008: Tzvetkoff buys Hedges Avenue mansion for $28 million. Has additional property portfolio of more than $21 million

AUGUST 2008: Features on Sunday Mail Rich List worth $82 million

MARCH 2009: Buys V8 supercar team, Inta Racing

APRIL 2009: Sacks 96 staff at his Intabill office

JULY 2009: BT Projects placed in liquidation with debts of $80 million

JULY 2009: Business partner Sam Sciacca sues Tzvetkoff for $100 million

JULY 2009: Online poker house Kolyma sues for $52 million

JULY 2009: Sells partnership in Zuri nightclub

AUGUST 2009: Sells 30m superyacht Maximus

NOVEMBER 2009: Hedges Ave mansion sold for $17 million

JANUARY 2010: Files for bankruptcy

APRIL 2010: Charged by US authorities with money laundering. Faces 75 years in jail

Posted: April 18th, 2010
Categories: journalism, politix, pop culture, scams, technology
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