Archive for April 30th, 2009

A photo of another one of my cousins

| April 30, 2009 | Reply
A photo of another one of my cousins

As I worked tonight, this little beetle landed on my pad of paper. Hello, Cousin! You fit so easily between the lines of my pad of paper. You make my pen strokes look quick thick!

beetle-on-pad-of-paper

[For this shot, I was using a Canon SD1100IS (which only costs about $150 now), using the digital macro feature. This bug let me park my camera lens less than an inch away for this photo.]

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Scamming the Nigerian scammers

| April 30, 2009 | 2 Replies
Scamming the Nigerian scammers

Paul Kinsella is a fascinating fellow. Though he is not with any branch of law enforcement, he has taken it on himself to delve into the tactics of the Nigerian scammers. You know, they might as well be called Nigerian spammers. And, believe it or not, though most of us simply delete those emails, over the course of a year many people fall for the scam and they lose substantial money in the process.

Kinsella is featured in “Master Baiter,” a detailed and entertaining article written by Nicolas Phillips and published in this week’s Riverfront Times. Kinsella, a 37-year old Illinois native as well as a father of two, scams the scammers with gusto. And he loves to tell them that they’ve been scammed by him. Kinsella has often tried (and sometimes succeeded) in convincing the scammers that he wants to work with them to rip off victims. Check out Kinsella’s website (419hell.com)to see many of the flavors of the scams, along with the people running them. Quite impressive. He must spend incredible numbers of hours running his operation. The payoff? He has learned of the identities of 26 potential victims and prevented 14 of them from actually paying the money. To see the FTC’s warnings about the Nigerian scams, go here.

Kinsella is multifaceted. He intentionally dropped 100 fake-lost-wallets to see how honest people were (74 were returned), resulting in a lot of publicity. He’s also a cartoonist and . . . oh yeah, consider this other service he offers:

He also created AfterLifeTelegrams.com, which works like this: For $5 a word, you write a telegram to a deceased loved one. Kinsella then arranges for a terminally ill person to memorize the message and pass it along.

As I learned from my days working as an Assistant Attorney General, it takes a scammer to catch a scammer.

Check out the article in the RFT. It’s full of facts, figures and entertaining vignettes about Kinsella, the Nigerian scams and much more.

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Culture and Copyright in the 21st Century

| April 30, 2009 | 5 Replies
Culture and Copyright in the 21st Century

On 24 March, 2009 Lawrence Lessig delivered the keynote speech, Getting the Network the World Needs, at the OFC Conference in San Diego, CA. This is a revision of a REMIX talk, distinguishing between parts of the 20th Century that were Read-Only and parts that were Read-Write.

His brilliantly delivered thesis discusses how culture prior to the 20th century was essentially read-write, everyone consumed and created the culture interactively. During the 20th century centralization and control of media and distribution transformed our culture to a read only – where creation was almost exclusively the province of professionals and professional distribution channels (tv, movies, music).

He then suggests that the 21st century brings the promise and the demand for building a read-write culture once more, and for moving far beyond the mash-up of the past decade. He also discusses the necessary legal and infrastructural changes needed to accommodate this changed reality.

Warner Music has tried to serve a DCMA takedown, based on his inclusion of some music and media clips – despite the obvious and clear “fair use”.

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Air Force Cheesecake

| April 30, 2009 | 3 Replies
Air Force Cheesecake

A few weeks ago, I visited the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. I didn’t expect that I’d like the exhibition that much- my eyes tend to glaze over at the discussion of military specs. However, some of the museum, which is on a functioning Air Force Base, really surprised and impressed me. I liked that the museum had seven different Air Force Ones available, four of which could be explored inside and out.

I also really liked looking at the ways in which different air force jets and planes of different eras were decorated. I took many pictures of the cheesecake-style pinup gals, critters and skeletons that adorned these big flying weapons. The gals are not surprising I suppose- they echo the centuries-old tradition of masthead mermaids on ships. What really struck me was the use of contemporary cartoon characters as happy icons of war.

I decided to string together my photos of airplane cheesecake and cartoon characters in another simplistic Youtube slideshow. Check it out, and look out for the Seven Dwarves, Donald Duck, Goofy, The Jolly Green Giant, Dennis the Menace and Dumbo, all emblazoned proudly on the face of military jets.

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American Stock Car Gets 81 MPG!

| April 30, 2009 | 4 Replies
American Stock Car Gets 81 MPG!

“Have you driven a Ford, lately?” As a charity stunt, Ford had specially trained drivers drive an unmodified stock 2010 Ford Fusion (mid-size sedan) to beat 1,000 miles in a single tank of gas. They reached 1,445.7 miles in 69 hours of driving around the D.C. area on surface streets and highways.

“Your mileage may vary.” Ford readily admits that this was a stunt, and the details of how it was done are available in many places, like here. Oh, and details about why are here. The car is normally expected to get about 40 miles per gallon under everyday conditions.

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