Saturday, December 29, 2007

Here Comes the Sun - Solar Energy

This year the Edge asked its impressive collection of smart people what they were optimistic about. Solar energy came up several times.

The Edge, Oliver Morton:
New materials and new material-processing techniques should allow the cost of installed photovoltaic capacity to be halved in the next few years, and there is room for considerable further improvement after that: while wind power, nuclear power and dams are not going to become radically cheaper to install, solar power capacity is. It is also going to become more flexible, both physically and metaphorically, with new applications on new surfaces, from windows to clothing. Some of these applications may well be gimmicky and unsustainable, but one of the great advantages of the coming solar power boom is that it offers the possibility for a wide range of technologies both to compete for the main prize—cheap domestic and light industrial electricity in developed and developing countries alike—and also to find and to create new niches. Link.

According to a company called Nanosolar, solar energy will soo be as cheap as that derived from coal:
"Our first solar panels will be used in a solar power station in Germany," said Erik Oldekop, Nanosolar's manager in Switzerland. "We aim to produce the panels for 99 cents [50p] a watt, which is comparable to the price of electricity generated from coal. We cannot disclose our exact figures yet as we are a private company but we can bring it down to that level. That is the vision we are aiming at."
(snip)
Nanosolar is one of several companies in Japan, Europe, China and the US racing to develop different versions of "thin film" solar technology. It is owned by internet entrepreneur Martin Roscheisen who sold his company to Yahoo for $450m and, with the help of the founders of Google, the US government and other entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, has invested nearly $300m in commercialising the technology. Link.

Every school should copy this project--a home-made solar-powered car built by designer and high-school students:

The Edge’s, Alun Anderson discusses alternative fuels:
First, reprogramming the genetic make-up of simple organisms so that they directly produce useable fuels (hydrogen, for example). That will be much more efficient than today's fashionable new bioethanol programs because they will cut out all the energy wasted in growing a crop, then harvesting it and then converting its sugars into fuel. Second, self-organizing polymer solar cells. Silicon solar cells may be robust and efficient but they are inevitably small and need a lot of energy to make. Self-organizing polymer cells could be ink jetted onto plastics by the hectare, creating dirt cheap solar cells the size of advertising hoardings. Third, there's artificial photosynthesis. Nature uses a different trick from silicon solar cells to capture light energy, whipping away high-energy electrons from photo-pigments into a separate system in a few thousand millionths of a second. We are getting much closer to understanding how it's done, and even how to use the same principles in totally different nano-materials. Link.

Hybrid solar lighting:

Gregory Cochran envisions solar-powered self-replicating machines:
Right now the human race uses about 13 trillion watts: the solar cells required to produce that much power would take up less than a fifth of one percent of the Earth's land surface—remember that the Earth intercepts more solar energy in an hour than the human race uses in a year. That's a lot of solar cell acreage, but it's affordable as long as they make themselves. We could put them in deserts—in fact, they'd all fit inside the Rub' al Khali, the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia. As I understand it, we like depending on the Saudis for energy.

But there are better ways. Solar energy works better in space—sure, the weather is better, but also consider that the vast majority of the Sun's energy misses the Earth. In fact only about one part in two billion warms this planet. Space-based self-replicating systems could harvest some of that lost sunlight—enough to make possible a lot of energy-expensive projects that are currently impractical. An interstellar probe is a bit beyond our means right now, and the same is true of terraforming Venus or Mars. That will change within our children's lifetimes. Link.

More here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Good Stuff From the Last Few Weeks

Seven pages of LOL Chairs for your amusement

The weirdest conspiracy theory ever

Look at this for 30 seconds and then look away – Oh my!

Sicko visits Norway, where even the prisons rock

Waterboarding: “I could feel my lungs going tight with fluid and felt like I was drowning. I thrashed in panic as darkness took over. As I passed out, thinking I was dying, I remember thanking God that we had made a stand against this kind of society.”

Better Business Bureau generates surprising number of complaints

Victoria’s Secret’s secret world of imprisonment, beatings and exploitation

Reading Anna Karenina in Zimbabwe: Doris Lessing on the hunger for books

Prince Philip’s greatest foot-in-the-mouth hits

Jack the Ripper speculation refuted by fabulous anagram

The gospel of supply-side Jesus

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

O Holy Night

I don't believe in God, but I'm a big fan of Christmas. I think my favorite carol is O Holy Night. Here's a touching country-style version by John Berry:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Could the US Learn from the Australian Healthcare System?

The Aussies seem to have a rather brilliant universal healthcare system based upon a few rather simple ideas.

There is a 1.5% flat tax on everyone’s taxable income for healthcare.

Individuals earning (in Australian dollars) over $50,000 per year ($100,000 for couples) are strongly encouraged to purchase private hospital coverage: if they do so they get a 30% premium rebate, but if they don’t they have to pay an additional 1% income tax.

Private health insurance in Australia costs a family between US $539 and US $1,078 per year.

Those who purchase private hospital coverage can lock in low rates for life by purchasing while they are young (this discourages people from waiting until they are old to purchase hospital coverage). Charges go up by 2% each year after the age of 31.

More here, here, and here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Future (Some Good Ideas)

Soon the world will be like a physical manifestation of the internet: ordinary people will be able to set up simple-but-comfortable residences in all sort of remote locations and have instant wireless connection that will enable them to communicate with friends and family, make financial transactions, and do business from wherever they are.

I’ve been following some links from Vinay Gupta:

Here’s a good idea: Appropedia--a wiki devoted to sustainable living and international development.

Here’s another good idea: a sun-absorbing coating that can be applied like paint to all kinds of surfaces and transform them into energy sources.

Here’s another good idea: a build-it-yourself two-hundred dollar shelter that can be used for refugees, or for disaster relief, or just for the hell of it.

Here a post with some more promising ideas, like precision agriculture for the developing world that uses GPS technology to track farmers’ cellphones and then provides them with customized farming recommendations, and this:
. . . to develop an integrated set of medical practices (these 24 drugs which don’t require refrigeration, don’t produce overdose easily, and are less than $10 per course) with an expert system which can be accessed both by patients themselves to figure out if their symptoms are problematic or not, and by slightly trained health care workers who would use the systems to figure out what to prescribe from their standard pharmacopoeia.

It’s not much, but for the poorest two or three billion, this could be the only health care service they ever see. None of the problems are particularly intractable, but you better bet there’s a VAST - and I mean VAST - distributed call center application at the core of this. Link.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Few Jokes

I found these jokes on Reddit:

Three statisticians went duck hunting. A duck flew out and the first statistician took a shot, the shot went a foot too high. The second statistician took his shot and the shot went a foot too low. The third statistician shouted, "We got it!"

A:Knock knock
B:Who's there?
A:Control Freak. And now you say "Control Freak Who?"!

What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?
A stick.

What does PFT stand for?
The American Dyslexics Association

What has two eyes, two belly buttons and two legs?
Two pirates.

"How long do I have to live, doctor?"
"I’d say ten...."
"Ten what? Weeks, months, years . . ?"
"Nine...."

Why were there no jokes about Jonestown?
Because the punch line was too long.

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."
"Oh no!" the President exclaims, "That's terrible!"
His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands. Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

How did the old Swiss maid drown in her own muesli?
She was pulled under by a strong currant.

A salesman rings the doorbell of a house. The door is answered by a young kid with a cigar in his mouth. There is loud music in the background and water all over the carpet.
The salesman, hiding his amazement, asks, "Is your Mother home?" The kid replies, "What do you think?"

What do you get if you cross the atlantic with the titanic?
About halfway.

A guy goes to the Olympics and sees a man carrying a long pole.
The guy asks - Are you a pole vaulter?
The man replies - No I'm German - how did you know my name is Walter?

So this old man is walking down the street in Brooklyn. He sees a young boy sitting on the street in front of a candy shop, shoving sweets in his mouth as fast a possible. The man walks up to the boy and says "You know son, its really not healthy to eat all that candy." The kid looks up at him and says, "You know my grandfather lived to be 97 years old." The man replies "Oh and did he eat a lot of candy?" The kid looks at him and says "No, but he minded his own fucking business."

Classic Fortune Magazine Cover

The cover to this week’s Fortune magazine is a real classic:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

G&CC's Top 20 Christmas CDs!!!

Need Christmas music? Here are my top 20 Christmas CD recommendations (they might take a few seconds to load):

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Einstein Explains It All

I think this quote shows that Einstein was wise as well as brilliant:
How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people -- first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving...

I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves -- this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts -- possessions, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible.

My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a 'lone traveler' and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude...
(snip)
My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the few ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader. In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates; force attracts men of low morality... The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.

This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor... This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man... I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence -- as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. Source.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Select a Candidate Quiz

Here’s a site that asks you eleven questions, calculates the results, and then shows which candidate seems closest to your views.

Select a Candidate

Technorati Tag:

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Designer Baby Poll

You and your spouse have decided to have a baby. You have a choice.

Choice 1: You take your chances on having a baby in the customary fashion.
Choice 2: You can order a designer baby with no direct genetic relationship to yourselves that possesses all of the following characteristics:
a) designer baby is more intelligent than your regular baby would be
b) designer baby is better looking than your regular baby would be
c) designer baby is more compassionate than your regular baby would be
d) designer baby is more healthy than your regular baby would be
e) designer baby is more creative than your regular baby would be
f) designer baby even looks more like you than your regular baby would

So, which baby would you choose?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Conservatives for Hillary Clinton

I’ve decided that we need a competent, intelligent president who will defend human rights and individual liberties, so I’m endorsing Hillary. It’s the first time I’ve supported a Democrat in a presidential election. Here’s a link to my new political blog:

Conservatives for Clinton

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Musical Piece Comprised of 37 Parts for the Cello

The remarkable Ethan Winer:


More: Amusing lists of oxymorons and funny names from Winer's website.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Unusual Statues

Click on the photos to see the photographers' Flickr pages:











Sunday, September 9, 2007

Three Classic Parodies

Dudley Moore Beethoven Parody

Peter Sellers as Olivier as Richard III


The Nacirema Tribe:
Professor Linton first brought the ritual of the Nacirema to the attention of anthropologists twenty years ago (1936: 326), but the culture of this people is still very poorly understood. They are a North American group living in the territory between the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles. Little is known of their origin, although tradition states that they came from the east....

Nacirema culture is characterized by a highly developed market economy which has evolved in a rich natural habitat. While much of the people's time is devoted to economic pursuits, a large part of the fruits of these labors and a considerable portion of the day are spent in ritual activity. The focus of this activity is the human body, the appearance and health of which loom as a dominant concern in the ethos of the people. While such a concern is certainly not unusual, its ceremonial aspects and associated philosophy are unique.

The fundamental belief underlying the whole system appears to be that the human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease. Incarcerated in such a body, man's only hope is to avert these characteristics through the use of ritual and ceremony. Every household has one or more shrines devoted to this purpose. The more powerful individuals in the society have several shrines in their houses and, in fact, the opulence of a house is often referred to in terms of the number of such ritual centers it possesses. Most houses are of wattle and daub construction, but the shrine rooms of the more wealthy are walled with stone. Poorer families imitate the rich by applying pottery plaques to their shrine walls. (footnotes removed) Link

Read about the mysterious fall of the Nacirema here.

More scholarly research on the Nacirema here.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Treasure Trove of Spiffing Links You Probably Missed

Brilliant “Engineer of the Century” invented a human-powered flying machine that crossed the English Channel and a working solar-powered plane.

Solomon Islander who saved JFK’s life finally getting some credit.

A helpful map of Miss South Carolina’s brain.

Drawings by a Japanese soldier held captive in the USSR.

Haplesss little sparrow murdered by mob of domino crazies.

John Donne and the torture debate of 1625.

Finally, someone has done something imaginative with stairs.

Simple-but-brilliant method for changing salt water into drinking water.

Russians find a massive sub-glacial lake sealed off from the rest of the world’s ecosystem for probably millions of years. What lurks beneath?

Thousands of forgotten refugees still in temporary camp 60 years on.

A fascinating collection of (mostly) Polish movie posters.

Foreign policy experts don’t know diddly about making predictions.

Man with 172 IQ lived as a five-year old and collected Mr. Rogers’ episodes. A waste or just a good example?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Film of a Recording of the Goon Show

The German army has a secret weapon: exploding shirt tail fluid. Part One:

Part 2

Part 3

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sesame Street: the Duets

Perlman and Telly

Yo Yo Ma and the Honkers

Debbie Harry and Kermit

Buddy Rich and Animal

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Some Sims Music Videos

A very funny trailer-trash classic:

A Sims “Streets of London” with a poignant ending:

A Sims “Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits):

The Sims hyper-sentimental version of Manilow’s “Mandy”:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

JC, LA and JR on YT

Here are Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash recreating “Blue Yodel No. 9”, which Armstrong had recorded with Jimmie Rodgers in 1930:

And a young Satchmo performing “I Cover the Waterfront”:

And the singing brakeman himself sings an ironic lament about being persecuted by a brakeman:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Jake Thackray Documentary

Update: May 9, 2008

Unfortunately, the documentary has been withdrawn from YouTube by the copyright owner. Here are some Jake videos that are still available:
"On Again"

"Sister Josephine"

And, in an entirely different vein, here is an excellent cover version of Thackray’s Christmas song, Remember Bethlehem:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Forgotten Crusade Against Slavery from the 1680s

Francisco José de Jaca de Aragón and Epifanio de Moirans de Borgoña were two forward-thinking dudes who advocated the end of slavery and the payment of reparations to its victims as early as 1681.

You’d think de Jaca and de Moirans would be world famous, but the record of their struggle was lost for 300 years. Even today, a Google search on their names yields very little. From an article by Liliana Obregón:
During their lengthy captivity, de Jaca and de Moirans wrote in their defense that the institution of slavery violates natural law, divine law and the law of nations. By making reference to biblical texts and religious authorities, they carefully refute the arguments that justified slavery and conclude that it was a "manifest robbery of the negroes’ freedom." Basing their argument on Saint Thomas' doctrine of restitution, de Jaca and de Moirans demanded compensation as the only way of redeeming—in part—the “terrible sins” committed by all who had participated in the slave trade. De Jaca wrote "these negroes, and their ancestors, are free, not only as Christians, but also in their native land. And as such, … the obligation exists to restore their freedom, but also, in pursuit of justice, to pay them what they would have inherited …, what would have enriched them, the lost time, the labor and the damages that they have suffered… for their enslavement and personal service…".
(snip)
Most significantly, de Moirans and de Jaca concluded that the tragedy of slavery was not based on an erroneous theological interpretation, nor on the innocent acceptance of a just cause, but rather on the intentional deafness and blindness of all of those who participated in some aspect of the trade, be they as vendors or recipients of slaves. The two Capuchins repeatedly noted that there were enough legitimate arguments against the trade in human beings for all to have rejected it. Aristotle's just cause theory— it was widely known— did not apply to the case of the enslaved Africans brought to the Indies. The only possible conclusion was that the participants in the slave trade were acting in bad faith or, at a minimum, that so much injustice had blinded those who could otherwise have denounced and impeded it. De Jaca affirms "If the professors, theologians, confessors, religious men had not been silent dogs in the Indies, then iniquity and injustice would not have developed so enormously and without remedy."

The rest of this fascinating article is here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Claude Debussy Plays Claude Debussy on Spankin’ New CD!!!

Here are a couple of musical clips of Claude Debussy playing his own compositions. They are each several minutes long and they take a few moments to load:

Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum

La Plus Que Lente

More from the New York Times.

Another take on Debussy from Isao Tomita:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Meez.com

Meez.com allows you to make a personalized animated character in less than five minutes. Here's mine:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Japanese Chimpanzee Takes a Train Ride Alone (Except for his Dog)

Here’s an amazing film from Japan of a chimpanzee who is learning how to take a train ride.

More on Pan-Kun the chimpanzee here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Billy Collins on YouTube

Where else but on YouTube could you find these brief little gems from Billy Collins?

The Best Cigarette:

The Dead:

Now and Then:


Budapest

The Country

Billy Collins Live

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A Classic Low-Tech Cartoon

Four minutes of pure joy: Roobarb and Custard

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Some of My Favorite Anime Music Videos

Leonard Cohen: Famous Blue Raincoat

Frank Sinatra: My Way

Elton John: Believe

The Cranberries: When You’re Gone

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Funny Warning Signs


































Roll the Credits
Warning 1 from Stephen Dann:

Warning 2 from Mark Strozier:

Warning 3 from sprbert:

Warning 4 from amelaco:

Warning 5 from Karin & rene:

Warning 6 from wili_hybrid:

Warning 7 from Tommy Sea:

Warning 8 from iwantamonkey:

Warning 9 from e/rol:

Warning 10 from novus_photo:

Warning 11 from elkrusty:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007

Spike Milligan: Three Short Comedy Routines

Searching for civilization in London:

A police officer reads the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

The Diagnosis:

Spike’s letter from Prince Charles:

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sarah Chang


I found this courtesy of Princess Haiku, who has lots of fine music clips.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

ADVERTISEMENT – Smart Investors Are Trading Gold for Coal Now!

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The price of coal remains at its highest level ever. And many market watchers expect the price to skyrocket this year.

“If there's such a thing as a hot mineral, then coal is it.” Inc Magazine

How to Exchange Your Gold for Coal in Three Easy Steps

Though the task for the newcomer may seem daunting and a bit confusing, a portfolio transformation from gold into coal is really a very simple process. Having a good sense of what you want coal to accomplish for you is the first hurdle. From there it breaks down to Three Easy Steps:

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What People Smarter Than You Are Saying About Coal

“If there's such a thing as a hot mineral, then coal is it.” Inc Magazine

“. . . rapid technological improvements in coal mining have resulted in productivity gains in this industry that have exceeded those for the economy as a whole by a wide margin . . .” Alan Greenspan

“Sooner or later, the (investor) has his investment money free to reinvest. Then, he can look around. If he is rational, and strictly preferring the highest rate of profit, he will now invest in coal . . .” Adam Smith

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Neologisms (them’s new words)

The following new words recently entered the language. I know because I put them there myself:

booble bombing Accidentally pulling up a NSFW site while searching for something quite innocent.

carbohydraphobia The fear of consuming too many carbohydrates.

culp fiction A fictional work such as a novel or a movie that is blamed for having inspired a notorious crime.

debtrosexual Young man who has run up his credit cards paying for dates and is now having financial difficulties.

dohzone layer Sociological stratum occupied by overstressed and undereducated Simpsonesque parents. An important election target group.

fatastrophe Large meal eaten by someone who is supposed to be on a diet.

flopaganda Press release or celebrity appearance designed to promote Glitter or Gigli, etc.

fretrosexual A person uncertain about his or her sexual orientation.

Generation WTF People born between 1955 and 1970 who were never allowed a generational label because the older baby boomers incorporated them into the previous one without their permission.

goad rage Anger resulting from deliberate incitement by others.

gymnostic Someone who thinks working out probably isn't worth the trouble.

hick flick Any movie in which farming communities are comprised almost exclusively of mental incompetents.

hitzophrenic Person who can’t stop checking the traffic stats on their website.

humilifier Wall poster of a heroic or legendary figure.

hypocracy The only form of government. Types of hypocracy include democracy, monarchy, oligarchy, plutocracy, and republic.

incompoop A bungling idiot who needs to be accomodated in order for you to keep getting your paycheck.

jelemarketer A novice telesales agent who lacks confidence and who is obviously reading from a script.

lackademic A graduate student teaching a university course.

naparazzi Elderly women swarming around a baby.

neofauxgism An unsuccessful attempt to use a new word that one has just learned.

oleanderthal An attractive but unprincipled woman. A bimbo.

opaholic Someone who has had too many cosmetic surgeries.

prigmatism Pretending to adhere to an antiquated moral outlook in order to ingratiate oneself with influential elders.

raccolade Excessive praise lavished on an attractive young woman for a comparatively modest achievement.

Rastoofarian Person incapacitated by overindulgence in marijuana.

squintessentials Important legal information written in letters too small to read.

tortological argument Corporation’s false claim that granting a customer’s reasonable request would be illegal.

trump To give someone a bad haircut.

vexculpatory evidence Voluminous and complex technical data introduced at trial purely to confuse a jury.

Viagrophobia In men: fear of some day needing viagra. In women: fear of husband’s overuse of viagra.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Nigerian Spam Parodies

I have collected together in one place some of the many parodies that have arisen from the Nigerian email scams. I begin with my own contribution to the genre: Nigerian Shakespeare Spam.

I BEG DEAR SIR FORGIVE ME THIS INTRUSION
ODEKI FALSTAFF MARLOWE IS MY NAME
AND THOUGH IT MIGHT AT FIRST CAUSE SOME CONFUSION
THIS SOLID PROPOSITION IS NO GAME
I AM A BLOOD DESCENDANT OF THAT BARD
WHO TRULY AUTHORED ALL OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS
AND I HAVE SEARCHED MOST PATIENTLY AND HARD
TO FIND A MAN OF TRUE AND UPRIGHT WAYS
WHO’S WORTHY TO INVEST A CERTAIN SUM
REQUESTED BY MY LAWYERS IN L.A.
WHO GUARANTEE THAT ROYALTIES WILL COME
BUT NEED A SMALL DOWNPAYMENT LATE TODAY
FOR WITNESS FROM ESTEEMED AND LEARN-ED SCHOLARS
THEY NEED TO PAY TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS ($200,000.00.00)

SIR CHRISTOPHER WAS TROUBLED MUCH AT COURT
AND SO HE FAKED HIS MURDER IN SOME PUB
HIS PUBLIC LIFE IN ENGLAND WAS CUT SHORT
AND OFF HE FLED TO LAGOS – THERE’S THE RUB!
HIS FUTURE WORKS HE WROTE IN SHAKESPEARE’S NAME
AND SMUGGLED INTO ENGLAND ON THE SLY
THE SWAN OF AVON’S DESTINY WAS FAME
WHILE MARLOWE’S CHILDREN SUFFERED BY AND BY
YET GREW IN NUMBER ‘TIL WE FORMED A CLAN
THERE’S EIGHTY OF US NOW, ALL PLAYWRIGHTS TOO
AND RECENTLY WE CAME UP WITH A PLAN
THAT NEEDS AN HONEST FELLOW SUCH AS YOU
THE ROYALTIES WITH INT’REST ARE A TRILLION ($1,000,000,000,000.00)
OF WHICH WE’RE PLEASED TO OFFER YOU TEN BILLION ($10,000,000.00)

OH THINK OF THE INJUSTICE OF OUR PLIGHT
WHOSE FATHER GAVE YOU HAMLET AND MACBETH
WE EIGHTY SHARE JUST ONE ELECTRIC LIGHT
OUR INTERNET CONNECTION SUCKS LIKE DEATH
WE NEED SOME RUNNING WATER AND A FRIDGE
THE BABIES NEED WARM BLANKETS AND SOME COTS
THE KIDS NEED SHOES, THE RIVER NEEDS A BRIDGE
AND THEN PERHAPS SOME AIR-CONDITIONED YACHTS
WE ONLY ASK TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND SMACKERS ($200,000.00)
MY BANKER NEEDS TO CALL YOU UP TODAY
SPURN NOT THIS LUCKY OFFER, DON'T BE CRACKERS!
JUST EMAIL BACK YOUR NUMBER RIGHT AWAY
TAKE ARMS AGAINST OUR TROUBLES, BE COURAGEOUS
I PROMISE YOU THE FORTUNE IS OUTRAGEOUS

Historical Note: The link between Christopher Marlowe and Nigerian spam email is stronger than one would suppose. The Nigerian spam emails derive from an older con known as the Spanish Prisoner. Apparently, the Spanish Prisoner scam can be traced back to Elizabethan England and to the coney-catching pamphlets of Robert Greene, who was one of Marlowe’s drinking buddies. More on the mysteries surrounding Marlowe’s death here.

Some Classic Nigerian Spam Parodies

A Spam salad:

DEAR SIR/MADAM,

THIS IS A PERSONAL EMAIL T0 YOU ONLY. I AM THE SON OF SPAM SPADE, THE FORMER LOAN OFFICER OF NIGERIA, WHO WAS KILLED BY A RUSSIAN LADY WHO WANTS TO MEET YOU. HIS MORTGAGE RATES WERE SUPERB, BUT HIS PENIS WAS TOO SHORT, SO HE ORDERED 60,000,000 VIAGRA PILLS AND BEFORE HE COULD TAKE THEM HE WAS ASSASINATED BY 5 MILLION EMAIL ADDRESSES AT NO COST TO YOU. NOW I HAVE THESE 60 MILLION VIAGRA PILLS AND SEEK YOUR HELP IN TRANSFERING THEM TO YOUR ACCOUNT. Link.

The lost Nigerian astronaut:

I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home. Link.

George Bush spam:

I AM GEORGE WALKER BUSH, SON OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, AND CURRENTLY SERVING AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THIS LETTER MIGHT SURPRISE YOU BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT MET NEITHER IN PERSON NOR BY CORRESPONDENCE. I CAME TO KNOW OF YOU IN MY SEARCH FOR A RELIABLE AND REPUTABLE PERSON TO HANDLE A VERY CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS TRANSACTION, WHICH INVOLVES THE TRANSFER OF A HUGE SUM OF MONEY TO AN ACCOUNT REQUIRING MAXIMUM CONFIDENCE.

I AM WRITING YOU IN ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE PRIMARILY TO SEEK YOUR ASSISTANCE IN ACQUIRING OIL FUNDS THAT ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ. MY PARTNERS AND I SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE IN COMPLETING A TRANSACTION BEGUN BY MY FATHER . . . Link

Landover Baptist takes up the offer:

In the e-mail, Basher explained that he knew that Pastor and those who received the e-mail message would be surprised to hear from him, but assumed that the Landover Baptist Church was already aware of a financial dispute between his family and the present civilian government of Nigeria. Basher conveyed that due to circumstances beyond his control, his father's bank accounts in Switzerland and North America were frozen. He went on to solicit the Church's confidential assistance in taking custody of thirty million United States dollars (US$30,000,000.00). "Naturally, that bountiful sum caught my well trained eye," said Pastor. "And we didn't get to be the richest church in America by asking a lot of questions when folks wave a fistful of cash in our faces." Link.

Iraqi Oil for Food Spam:

Because of recent poltical events which you may have seen about in international media, my country is rocking by turmoil. My former strong man, General Uday Hussein al-Tikriti, was murdered, and somebodys is responsible. Before he expired in tragedy (peace be upon him), respected General Tikriti (pridefully rewarded Arafat Medal for Services to Martyrdom Operations, Ramallah Campaign) entrusted me the sum of FORTY SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS United states dollars mandated ffor distribution for food and medical equipemt for Iraqi people by the United Nations Plaza.

My esteemed colleges and me, AFTER careful determination, have decided to appoiont OFFICIALS FOREIGN REPRESENTATIVES to take safekeepering of said moneys as beneficiaries of the fund. Link (scroll down).

A subgenre: spamming the spammers:

I tell them I’m Herman Munster. No problem. Barney Rubble? No problem. I tell them my name is Wile E. Coyote, and that I make my living selling anvils, explosives, and giant magnets, and that I was hospitalized after following a highway center line someone had redirected into the side of a giant rock. Unbelievably…no problem. Although one spammer balked when I asked for a photo for my attorney, Mr. Elmer J. Fudd. That was because she didn’t have a camera. Hilarious link.

And of course the unforgettable 3rd Nigerian Email Conference.

My sonnets about the other kind of Spam are here

Update 1:
The Daily Farce reports on a surprising development: In an incredible turn of events, Markson Camara, the only son of late former Director of Finance, Chief Vincent R. Camara of Sierra-Leone Diamond and Mining Corporation, has held a press conference this morning in Nigeria announcing that "I'm tired of everyone thinking I'm a fake! I'm not. I have real money and I need to transfer it to an account in the United States!" Link.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Welcome to my new blog, Guinness and Cream Cakes!

Have you seen this magical animated short about what goes on inside a cell?


Click here for a longer version, with an explanation of what you are seeing.