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The Nigerian Spam Scam

Posted by Ogged
on 03.12.05

It was a real guy, Nigerian even, and in our very own U.S. of A.

A Sacramento man of Nigerian descent was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison Friday for running an international investment scam that defrauded investors of more than $2.1 million through a Nigerian advance fee scheme.
Roland Adams, 38, admitted that he conspired with others in Nigeria, South Africa and Canada to run the scheme. Potential investors were mailed letters supposedly from African government officials who wanted help in diverting millions of dollars held in bogus trusts or accounts.

8 years sounds good, but I guess that's because of the money, and not just because he sent spam. Oh well.

UPDATE: In retrospect, this has to be one of the most boring posts I've ever written. I'm sorry. Try not to read it again to see if this is true.


 

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This campaign...has not been in vain

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.11.05

My first dance with garageband and audacity: a dance mix of Jesse Jackson's speech to the 1984 Democratic Convention. Taste my bitter Jesse essence. I can make a .wav, too, if that's better.


 

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Fame Goggles, With Apologies to John Holbo

Posted by Ogged
on 03.11.05

Tripp has a good idea.

You should do an entry on people that are supposed to be attractive but aren't.

Indeed. But I'm a little wary because the last few times I've mentioned semi-celebrities on this site, they (or their family members) have suddenly popped into the comments. But lists must be made, and if the people are famous enough, they probably won't find themselves here.

The prevalence of plastic surgery is another complication. We might even get strange counterfactuals like "with the '98 nose job, but without the '96 lips injections." Hard to say.

Luckily, I have my list handy.

Sarah Jessica Parker.


 

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Five Fame Fuckers, Courtesy of Dooce

Posted by Ogged
on 03.10.05

Sure, we're described as the frat house with the locker room humor, but 1) I'm having trouble thinking of a single funny, interesting or risqué things I've heard said in a locker room and 2) I got the idea for this post from Dooce, so take it up with the lady if you don't like it. Dooce writes,

And let me just take a moment to explain the Five Fame Fuckers list for those of you who don't already have one: if you're in a committed relationship, you're allowed to compile a list of five people you'd like to sleep with, but the people on the list not only have to be celebrities, they also have to be celebrities you don't know or wouldn't ever happen to bump into, even in the most remote social situation. To make things fair, the person you're in the committed relationship with gets to compile his/her own list. So, if you don't have one, please do us all a favor and get one.

A very funny story goes with that Dooce post, by the way. I've been thinking all day about my own list. It's a tough question because just about any of the women on this page are hotter than the women on my list, but they're not quite the kind of celebrity we have in mind. And, because I totally have aging hangups, the list is only true for the celebrities as pictured. Six months later, and who knows if I'd give them the time of day. Onward. And in order, because I take my blog seriously:

1. Emmanuelle Béart. In Un coeur en hiver. Just 5'4", wearing makeup, doesn't speak English. I totally don't care.

2. Federica Fontana. Because I have eyes. She also has a (not safe for work; not safe for anything, in fact) pretty nice body.

3. Christy Turlington. As pictured on Unfogged. Still the most beautiful woman ever.

4. Thandie Newton. I should be hanging out with the Mission Impossible producers.

5. Carey Lowell. As Jamie Ross. We've been over this.

(Just missing the cut: Jennifer Jason Leigh. Don't ask, because even I don't know why, but I'm totally hot for that woman. And Jodie Foster. Of course.)

And yeah, I see that "if you're in a committed relationship" clause, but I'm old enough to have my own oven mitt and set of knives, so I'm old enough to carry my list from relationship to relationship.


 

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Scrubbed Clean

Posted by Ogged
on 03.10.05

Say what you want about Michael Jackson, but that whole "turning into a white guy" thing really worked. Damn. I didn't think it was possible.


 

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Numbers for the Curious

Posted by Ogged
on 03.10.05

For those who are curious about blog stats and the outgoing link tracker.

The stats tracker on our server says we get about 2500 visitors each day, give or take. That's always sounded too high to me. Here's a screenshot of the My Blog Log tracker for yesterday. (People were all over that Volokh link; they clicked it 100 times the day before too.) By this count, there were only 687 readers. That's closer to my sense of the place. But it's also a very big disparity. I wonder how each one counts. And I wonder how far off other blogs' stats are. I've always had a feeling that there are far fewer blog readers than we think, but maybe this latest count is wrong. I dunno.


 

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Annals of Motherhood

Posted by Alameida
on 03.10.05

So, I'm putting little baby snots-a-lot to sleep, so I can't totally monitor girl x, and I'm just hoping against hope she won't come in and wake up baby. I hear some crashing from the kitchen, but it's obviously plastic kids plates, and there's no screaming, so I figure I'll worry about it later. Followed by: blessed silence, punctuated only by the mysterious accents of Connie the Cow and friends (British TV producers seem to have decided that equality demands that each regional accent be allotted its own character on a kids show. You got your Scottish dog, some kind of Welsh ant or something, a Souf London geezer hedgehog, and so on. I find it irritating, but whatever.) Baby s-a-l won't stop nursing, even when she is asleep, and flails around looking for a boob if you try to sneak it out. OK, lie there a while more. Eased her off! Woo hoo! Now to sit up silently...yes! I get the door closed, and go out to see girl X. She is sitting in front of the TV with no panties on, spoon in hand, calmly eating an entire bowl full of white sugar.


 

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Gee Thanks, God

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

Even in goddamned blogdom, with none of this crap about looks, height, makeup, high-heels, or ethnicity, the woman who writes posts that make me say, "Hey, I'd like to date her" is, of course, a lesbian.

How is this place different from all other places? It's fucking not, that's how.

(Moira, email me if your parents are pressuring you about grandkids. I had a crush on Erin Gray too!)


 

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Echo Chamber

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

I just read the paper on blogs (PDF) mentioned directly below. There's one conclusion that's surprising if it's true: that conservative blogs don't compose an an "echo chamber" with more strict message discipline than liberal blogs. But it also seems like one of the weakest claims in the paper.

Here's the whole bit about the "echo chamber."

Besides looking at the citations bloggers make, we can also compare the similarity in the textual content of their blogs. Conservative television programs and conservative talk radio have sometimes been perceived to be acting as an echo chamber for Republican talking points. However, we did not find evidence for this in conservative blogs. To compare posts textually, we extracted a set of informative phrases, for example, "forged documents" or "vice presidential debate."
The set of informative phrases was extracted using a phrase finding algorithm which identifies phrases that are most informative with respect to a background model of term frequencies in weblog data. The first step in the algorithm identifies key bigrams in our corpus of weblog terms. The algorithm for finding key bigrams combines a measure of informativeness and a measure of phraseness for a bigram into a single unified score to produce a ranked list of key bigrams [16]. Next, the phrase finding algorithm finds all frequent phrases that contain any of the top N ranked bigrams and satisfy a set of phrase boundary tests.
We identified 498 such phrases across the 40 blogs, with each blog typically using a few hundred of the phrases. We then computed a cosine similarity measure between all pairs of blogs, this time using a TF ¤ IDF metric, where the entry in xA corresponding to phrase p is given by fA,p ¤ log(N/np), where fA,p is the number of times the phrase p occurs in blog A, N = 1, 768, 887 is the number of blogs harvested by BlogPulse between Oct.-Nov. 2004 and np is the number of blogs mentioning phrase p in all of the BlogPulse dataset. Interestingly, we found that it was the liberals who had a slightly higher pairwise similarity in the phrases they mentioned. As one would expect, the average similarity between blogs of opposite persuasions was smaller (0.10) than that of liberal (0.57) and conservative (0.54) pairs. So at first glance, we do not see evidence of a Republican "noise machine" at work in the blogosphere.

No statistician am I, but there seem to be two pretty clear problems here. The first is generic to any "informative phrase" method: people might be talking about the same thing using different terms.

The second problem seems more serious. Phrases like "forged documents" might give us a sense of what's being talked about, but they don't give us any information about what's being said. This method wouldn't detect any difference between "I can't believe people think these are forged documents," and "These forged documents are just the latest MSM effort to undermine the President." It could be the case that 60% of 100 liberal blogs commenting on forged documents take them to be forgeries, while 90% of 100 conservative blogs take them to be forgeries, and the "informative phrase" method would find no difference at all between the two samples in terms of uniformity of opinion.

It's not bad otherwise though; quick read if you're curious.


 

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More Politics

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

Three great things from Political Wire. First, a paper (PDF) I'll have to read tonight about left/right political blogs and what they cite and link.

Then, two quotes that capture the South's charm and offensiveness.

"Being called vindictive and partisan by Tom DeLay is like being called ugly by a frog." --Ronnie Earle
"We don't do Lincoln Day Dinners in South Carolina. It's nothing personal, but it takes awhile to get over things." --Lindsay Graham

 

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Labor

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

Talking to the boss today, pitching something we should buy that costs not too much money.

Boss: So, do you just want me to say "yes," or should I ask you to write up a proposal?
Me: I think we're done.
Boss: I had to ask one easy question.

Such a cushy job.


 

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The Old Crew

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

For the Invisible Adjunct alums, a remarkable post and exchange in comments between the Happy Tutor and Tim Burke.

And, related--if you haven't already read it--a great post by Holbo (I even read this one all the way through).

What's the line I'm thinking of about a joke being the best weapon against totalitarianism?


 

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The Shtup Free Zone

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

I just have to share: a dating site for asexual people.

via marginal revolution, which has more links.


 

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Parsing

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

Like Liz P. in the comments there, I read the wedding announcement, and immediately checked Veiled Conceit. Not disappointed. I appreciate their (even feigned) zaniness, but I appreciate making fun of them more. The only thing I would add to Zach's post is this: check out the people in the background in the picture; particularly the old woman on the left. Holy crow, is she not amused.


 

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Not So Much

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

Here's a nifty little service for bloggers, via paul at locussolus, that tracks how often links on your site are being clicked--that's outgoing, not incoming. Cool.


 

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Brrr

Posted by Ogged
on 03.09.05

Hate to do it, gotta say it: deacon is right. The Prospect piece had some good information in it, but a lot of it, and definitely the part about the Powerline guys, was weak. There's so much wrong with these guys, and they post so much crap every day, that we don't do ourselves a favor by making charges that are hollow, or can't stick.


 

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Suggestion For Bloggers and Troublemakers

Posted by Ogged
on 03.08.05

One of the reasons pundits, bloggers, and politicians bullshit so endlessly with so little loss of credibility is that we rarely remember, let alone go back to check, who said what when. But most of the newer blogging software allows "post scheduling," which means that you can write a post now and have it show up on your blog at some future time.

So, when you see a prediction, or something that will be proven true or untrue in some more or less determinate time, write a post, but set it to publish after that time has passed. For example, if Scott Ritter believes that we'll attack Iran in June, let's schedule a post and see. Someone could make a pretty compelling and valuable blog doing nothing but posting to the future.


 

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The Jooz

Posted by Ogged
on 03.08.05

Eugene Volokh, as pissed as I've ever read him, and with good reason. It's a big country, for better and worse.


 

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Travel

Posted by Ogged
on 03.08.05

If you haven't been over there today, Profgrrrrl is living (and blogging) it up from Italy.


 

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Risk, Reward

Posted by Ogged
on 03.08.05

The first comment to John Quiggin's post on bankruptcy, in which he muses about the reinstitution of debtors' prison, hit home for me (and, I'm betting, not just for me).

No physical bars needed in this prison — credit card debt is a "soft cage."

...

We are all in a sense invited to enter this virtual prison when we sign on the dotted line of our first student loan — especially we humanists who had no hope of capitalizing on our degrees. We agreed to mortgage our futures for a bit of time to read and study. It looked like an innocent enough choice.

You ain't kidding, brother. Those student loans still hang over me, and influence all my choices (eg, move to Canada = salary in Canadian dollars, loan payments in American dollars = sucks). Other people have credit card debt, or car payments, or other loans, or all those and more. In fact, the race against debt seems like the defining feature of American economic life. It should be shocking that the current bankruptcy bill is even being considered, given how completely it screws most people, and in a tangible way that hits close to home. But I don't even know if most folks are paying attention.

(I should add that I don't regret the loans and education. In fact, if I had to do it over, I'd probably take out more loans, and attend the school I really wanted to attend, but I sure as hell didn't understand the implications of what I was doing when I did it.)


 

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Small Town Boy Seeks Word

Posted by Ogged
on 03.08.05

Maybe this post should be about the word I'm looking for: I'm either not _____ enough or I'm too _____, because this, from KF's marathon experience, really surprised me.

The funny thing was the number of people around me yakking on their cell phones throughout the race. Most were talking to people who were on the course to cheer for them, I suspect, because they kept saying things like "I'm on Exposition, right next to the big 76" or "I'm on Venice, about a block before La Brea." The best one, though, was the guy who I overheard saying, "No, I'm running right now." I really wanted to know what the question was that prompted that answer…

On their cell phones? During a marathon??


 

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Of the standard of taste

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.07.05

Hume:

If, in the sound state of the organ, there be an entire or a considerable uniformity of sentiment among men, we may thence derive an idea of the perfect beauty; in like manner as the appearance of objects in day-light, to the eye of a man in health, is denominated their true and real colour, even while colour is allowed to be merely a phantasm of the senses.

Indeed.


 

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In Which Life Imitates Blog

Posted by Ogged
on 03.07.05

In the locker room, changing after my session with the Swede, when some guy remarks on my jammer tan.

Guy: I've heard of farmer's tans, but what is that, a bicycle tan?
Me: It's actually a swimming tan, my suit goes down to here. You're one of the few people to have seen it.
Guy: I feel privy.

Everyone's a fucking comedian.


 

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For the Swimmers

Posted by Ogged
on 03.07.05

Any activity in which sinking and spluttering is progress, sucks. Try crossing your arms across your chest and treading water doing nothing but a butterfly kick. First, you tip over; then, when you figure that out, you sink and splutter. I don't know what comes next.


 

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My Brain is Hanging Upside Down

Posted by Alameida
on 03.07.05

Sorry about never posting, but I'm coming up on three solid weeks of sick children. I can't quite decide whether it's all the same thing with pseudo-recoveries, or a series of colds. Last night was my third night spent waking up a few times per hour to comfort and nurse a snuffly, feverish baby. It's like cuddling up to a hot water bottle, and I can feel her burning little foot pressed against my thigh, like she's been dragged off by the baby wendigo or somthing. I'm starting to feel like my brain is going to ooze out of my ears soon. At least there's coffee in the world, oh, dear sweet coffee. I haven't been taking her to the doctor, because they never do anything for viral infections except what I'm doing now: tylenol, decongestants, lotsa liquids. It's pointless to give children antibiotics for viral infections, screws up their guts, and contributes to antibiotic resistance. But, at this point, maybe she has gotten a secondary infection...wish me luck anyways, and I promise to post more iff I get some fucking sleep, ever.


 

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How much blood?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.07.05

Kevin Drum linked this editorial from the Washington Post on needle exchange programs, and I'm linking it here in the hopes that it becomes just a bit more widely read. It's on the effectiveness of needle exhange programs in lowering HIV transmission rates, or, more accurately, it's on the Administration's view of those programs, and what they're willing to do to squelch them.

The administration claims that the evidence for the effectiveness of needle exchange is shaky. An official who requested anonymity directed us to a number of researchers who have allegedly cast doubt on the pro-exchange consensus. One of them is Steffanie A. Strathdee of the University of California at San Diego; when we contacted her, she responded that her research "supports the expansion of needle exchange programs, not the opposite." Another researcher cited by the administration is Martin T. Schechter of the University of British Columbia; he wrote us that "Our research here in Vancouver has been repeatedly used to cast doubt on needle exchange programs. I believe this is a clear misinterpretation of the facts." Yet a third researcher cited by the administration is Julie Bruneau at the University of Montreal; she told us that "in the vast majority of cases needle exchange programs drive HIV incidence lower." We asked Dr. Bruneau whether she favored needle exchanges in countries such as Russia or Thailand. "Yes, sure," she responded.
The Bush administration attempted to bolster its case by providing us with three scientific articles. One, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, was produced by an author unknown to leading experts in this field who is affiliated with a group called the Children's AIDS Fund. This group is more renowned for its ties to the Bush administration than for its public health rigor: As the Post's David Brown has reported, it recently received an administration grant despite the fact that an expert panel had deemed its application "not suitable for funding." The two other articles supplied by the administration had been published in the American Journal of Public Health. Although each raised questions about the certainty with which needle-exchange advocates state their case, neither opposed such programs.

Maybe I'm missing something, but this looks pretty bad. It looks like they're lying about the research in a way that will kill a lot of people. Or (haha) allow them to die. Reckless disregard, for some small political gain or ideological line-toeling. How much contempt can be summoned? It won't be enough.


 

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Almost McSweeney's, Except OK

Posted by Ogged
on 03.07.05

I really didn't want to like it, but this Personal Ads for Poets grew on me. And The Believer seems like a pretty cool magazine.


 

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Checkpoint

Posted by Ogged
on 03.07.05

Two things to read about the Iraq roadblock shooting. Mickey Kaus quotes Evan Wright on the logistical problem.

In the dark, warning shots are simply a series of loud bangs or flashes. It's not like this is the international code for "Stop your vehicle and turn around." As it turns out, many Iraqis react to warning shots by speeding up. Maybe they just panic. Consequently, a lot of Iraqis die at roadblocks.

And Jim Henley on the larger problem.

In general, I value American lives over Iraqi lives myself, to be crudely chauvinist about it. But it's fundamentally strange that American lives should be valued more highly than Iraqi lives in Iraq.
Here is the Highest Law in Iraq today: Thou shalt not frighten an American soldier. Not "kill," not "attack." Put in fear of his (or her) life. This is a capital crime subject to immediate arraignment, instantaneous investigation and summary execution of sentence.

...

It is dangerous for a people to arrogate that much power to themselves, even, or especially, when they see themselves as Doing Good. When we still had conservatives in this country, they knew that.

All of Jim's post is worth reading.


 

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Matrimony and Stuff

Posted by Ogged
on 03.07.05

The state of contemporary American wedding gift-giving can be summed up in two words: gravy boat. As Fontana might say, honestly people. It's hard to tell whether the gifts are intended to benefit the newlyweds, or whether the registry is really an elaborate hazing ritual / initiation ceremony with a straightforward message: you will be bourgeois, and you'll like it.

For my part, I am bourgeios, and I do like it, so I'm not as much concerned with the significance and semiotics of the wedding registry as with how it can be tweaked to result in better gifts. Maybe people already do this, but my proposed innovation is this: rather than having people buy you four dozen matching knick-knacks, let them contribute toward the purchase of a few big ticket items. What every newly married couple needs is a plasma TV, but most aren't willing to spend $5000 to get one. So let folks chip in: rather than asking them to drop $80 on a Global boning knife (for the love of god), have them add $80 to the TV pot. It wouldn't take too many guests or a lot of money from each to net a few nice gifts. And if you really need that knife, or a gravy boat, you can go out and buy it yourself later.

(Note: this post has nothing to do with all my friends getting married last year. I haven't even looked at your registries yet folks, let alone bought your gifts.)


 

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Certainly, Duke is Duke...

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.06.05

...they're on tv more than...leave it to beavah...reruns.

If anyone has an mp3 or wav of that, let me know.


 

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Higher, Faster, Finisheder

Posted by Ogged
on 03.06.05

Big ups to KF, who ran a marathon today. Congratulations, dummy!


 

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