, ,

Once upon a time…

Fairy Tales and fantasies have been the staple fictional diet of children for many years. I caught the Brothers Grimm flick in one of my rare moments sitting in front of the TV without watching sport (including wrestling) the other day. The Brothers Grimm were a couple of oddball German professors who spent their time collecting and documenting folk tales and fairy stories for the amusement of the masses. The movie suggests the Grimms were always pursuing these tales in the hope of striking some truth – when in fact they were collecting stories for the entertainment of children.

It seems to me that Titanic director James Cameron is a modern day Grimm. Cameron who made his name directing the “true story” of a sinking ship is currently promoting his latest project – a documentary – on the discovery of the coffin of Jesus Christ. Fact and fiction are difficult to disentangle – particularly through the filters of history and science. Cameron was quick to jump on the Dan Brown bandwagon fueling speculation that Jesus had a family with Mary Magdalene based on fragments of the gnostic gospels.

In my discussions the other day on philosophy, religion and the meaning of life I argued with some intellectual atheists (which is almost a contradiction in terms – intellectually it’s much safer to be agnostic) that my faith hinges not on the science behind the bible but its historicity. There’s an old question meant to encourage liberal theological thought – “If the bones of Jesus were discovered – would this change your faith?” The politically correct answer to that question is “no” – the theologically correct answer is of course yes. The resurrection of Jesus is of fundamental importance to orthodox Christian belief. The Christian faith depends on its historical credentials. Authenticating “history” is an incredibly difficult task – we need to analyse what we read with archeological findings and historical context. The fact is, we really can’t be sure about what happened hundreds of years ago – let alone thousands. We weren’t there to see it, feel it, hear it, smell it, or touch it. Whenever we’re told of something that happened outside our “experience” it should be questioned, poked, prodded and examined. One of my favourite novelists, Robert Rankin wrote a book called the Witches of Chiswick about a powerful group of witches who decided to completely rewrite history at the turn of the 19th century. This idea is clearly fiction – or is it? We can’t afford to rule out every theory or every piece of documented history simply because we weren’t there. Context is king. When considering a claim it’s important to consider motives, underlying social factors… all these tests need to be applied not just to the bible but to every crackpot theory that comes up questioning its veracity. When it comes to the bible – the disciples and early leaders of the church were prepared to die pretty horrible deaths (not just your run of the mill death but you know, being burned alive or eaten by lions) for their beliefs – I’d like to see James Cameron put his money where his mouth is at this point. Neither Buddha or Muhammad – founders of two of the other “great” (numerically) religions of the world were forced to die for their convictions and nobody is out there in public questioning the historicity of their lives. It’s hard to find a genuinely accepted religion where the founder has received material benefit from their teaching (Scientologists and Mormons are no exceptions to this rule). So it strikes me that the assessment of the Israeli archaeologist who investigated the original discovery is probably worth listening to…

“It’s a beautiful story but without any proof whatsoever.”


Although I guess Christianity’s critics would say the same thing…

,

42

I’ve been having some particularly interesting philosophical discussions with friends coming from various camps within the atheistic, agnostic, nihilistic, existential hedonistic camps recently about the meaning of life the universe and everything… Arguing about religion and underlying philosophy can be mind numbing – and while I claim to have all the answers so do they – or they claim to have no questions anyway – a blog I occasionally read on the Sydney Morning Herald (occasionally because on most occasions I’m incredibly frustrated by the writer’s existential agnostic hedonism) has an interesting discussion today that’s worth a look – and perhaps a post or two…

,

Chain mail

Television tabloid journalism sank to an all new low this week – if that’s possible – with Today Tonight chaining a granny to her retirement home cupboard for the sake of a dramatic story. It’s a new low in a series of lows stretching for as long as the ratings war between Nine’s A Current Affair and Seven’s Today Tonight. It’s a battle for the hearts and minds of Australia’s gullible majority who rely on the program to keep informed and educated.

Tabloid programs traditionally rotate about seven stories – the neighbour from hell dispute, dodgy brothers traders being hunted down, consumer protection, how to save money (bargain hunting), shameless network cross promotion, dieting tips, and the emotionally charged plight of a disadvantaged entity who needs “your” help. There’s a Venn like overlap between the categories – but that’s the way they like it.

My friend Benny hates these shows, which regularly compete for story fodder (ala the tit-for-tat Corby drama from the last few weeks), blaming them for all manner of societal malaise. It’s been a bad year for Today Tonight who have managed to sully their already scurilous reputation with a number of well publiscised mishaps on and off camera.

Naomi Robson was at the heart of a number of controversies prior to her decision to hand the hosting duties on to anti chequebook journalism crusader Anna Coren.

The first famous mishap came when Naomi was caught swearing at her producer – the clip made its way to commercial radio and was widely circulated online – causing this apology…

Her horror year is documented here.

This story seems to be an all new low for any “current affairs” programming and the journalist in question should get the boot for being reprehensibly stupid.

Programs like this should not be allowed to wield the influence they do on public debate. They rate through the roof so there’s no real chance of the pin ever being pulled which is a tragedy for the country’s intellectual standards.

Speaking of intellectual standards… English Football demonstrated its capacity to churn out boorish louts incapable of human interaction – Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise look to have been to the same school of ettiquette as Penrith’s newly appointed co-captain Craig Gower. Apparently Bellamy took to Riise’s legs with a golf club following his refusal to take part in a training camp karaoke competition. It seems that’s just what the doctor ordered with both players on the score sheet in their upset away win over Barcelona. The coach was apparently ready to give Bellamy the flick if he’d put in a sub-par performance – boom-boom-tish.

Just Cause

Activism is a funny thing. There are plenty of worthy causes out there to choose from – and I suspect they’re something people hold to with vehement passion. One such activist once told me that the dying pandas were of more inherent value than the child I sponsor – it takes a particular type of person to be that misdirected. I met a guy in the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane who argued passionately that the Australian dollar should be valued based on our gold stocks (this system), I signed his petition so I could read the “free” newspaper he was handing out describing the system – and he rang me about a year later seeking my support – a request I duly turned down. Joe has many causes he believes are worth fighting for – mostly the legacy of George W Bush.

In the last few weeks “pirate” anti-whaling ships have been hassling a sanctioned whale (cuisine) research vessel. I’m not anti-whaling – I think if you can manage to bring in a massive fish you deserve to be able to eat it as is your right in the food chain. During the initial stages of the piracy the Sea Shepherd organisation’s leader President Paul Watson said he’d be prepared to “die for these whales if need be.” And he tried – his pirate ships repeatedly rammed the first Japanese whaling tanker – the Kaiko Maru causing the ship to put out a distress signal and cutting short its valuable “scientific” mission. What made Mr Watson wake up one day and decide to save the whales? Did he read Moby Dick at a particularly influential time in his life? Did he have a bad experience giving a past flame some perfume? What is it that makes people take on a cause with such do or die enthusiasm. Maybe he saw this video…

There is something refreshing about the idealism of these sometimes misguided activists. But really there are just so many causes out there to fight for – the whales, a trial for Australian terrorist David Hicks (ala Dick Smith), climate change, the future of the Liberal Party… there are things that need saving on every corner. How do you split such worthy causes? Is it just a matter of finding a subject that makes your blood boil? Or makes your heart sing? Some time ago Phil and myself offered our services as mercenary protesters (I actually suspect the term “freelance” writing is derived from such a concept). I’m looking to go one better – suggest a topic and I’ll get active for an appropriately proportional amount of my time.

There are some people out there who have chosen to take on the cause of scamming the Nigerian scammers – a story in today’s SMH caught my attention – you can read about it here, or just watch the video below…

I’m not at work today – Robyn had a nasty fall on the indoor soccer field last night and I’m helping her with the first part of the rehabilitation process having sat through a few hours with my intoxicated indigenous friends in the casualty ward of the local hospital. That’s the last time I let her play soccer – she’s thrilled that her swollen ankle now looks just like one of my cankles.

,

Censored

Apparently some students from Washington State University were less than happy having their accidental emails to yours truly posted online. Something about privacy issues, stalkers and the like. I’d post the email I received from the student, and the lecturer – but they would probably feel violated. I have removed names and student numbers from the original post. I don’t like censorship – I’m a freedom of speech advocate myself. Did you know that Australia has no constitutionally enshrined “freedom of speech” we’ve just stolen the concept from the US. Interesting stuff really – censorship can be a necessary evil, obviously certain sections of society need to be restricted from accessing particular content. A lot of Christians are pro-censorship when it comes to areas like the arts without really thinking through the issue – what if one day censorship swung around and tried to restrict religious discussion (ala the “Catch the Fire Ministries” court case on religious vilification) – we can’t have our proverbial cake and eat it too at that point – you’re either with free speech or you’re against free speech.

One person who probably should be censored is Joe. His blog is a fine example of that which we should be seeking to keep out of the hands of innocents. There are probably a number of things that really should be censored like Channel 7’s Sunrise program which last week ran an obviously fake photo of the Strand in Townsville under flood water believing it to be real. I emailed them several times seeking a retraction on behalf of Townsville’s tourism industry and they ignored me. Channel Nine ran the Sunrise story in their news bulletin last night after we got Tourism Queensland to put out a statement about the photoshopped picture. Funny stuff.

I was going to write about political activism and piracy (the nautical kind) but I’ll leave that until this afternoon or something.

The final installment

Well readers, I’m sure you’re as sick of reading about my correspondence with Edward NKanga as I am. So I decided to bring this situation to a close. I was listening to a bit of Gomez when inspiration struck. I’d get myself arrested. I created a new gmail account – Officer Max Power can be contacted at corruptioninvestigation@gmail.com. In the meantime I received the following email from Edward, and further instruction from the banker, Mr Thomas Wood.

Dear Tobias,

Thank you very much for your mail.I am very pleased
that you have taken step in the right direction regarding the inheritance
claim.

Thank you very much for the compliment on my family and i
pray that we get to come together and share a very mutual relationship in the
near furture.

Regarding the accept of the bankers,i do not see any
reason for you to worry.I have already told you previously that all modalities
are already in place.My good friend i want you to try as much as possible to
adhere to all instruction given to you by the bank.

Remain
blessed,
Edward Nkanga

The bank apparently requires me to supply the following information to support my claim – does anyone have a spare $US5500 handy?

Requirement for an account activation.
1,Copy of ID or
passport.
2,An amount of US$5,500 for activation.
3,Transfer appraisal
form. Find attached.

Kindly fill attached form and forward to
us. Thus, you are officially advised to effect the transfer of the account
activation charges of US$5,500.00 only, directly to the Transfer Director’s
Account Officer. The payment will be forwarded to you upon your response.

Apparently for just a low, low fee of $5,500 I could have been a multi-multi-billionaire. But it was too late – my time as a corporate fugitive was coming to an end. Tobias was in trouble. I sent this email to the banker:

I have to cancel this transaction – the authorities are on to me – I will be fleeing to the Bahamas – I’ll advise you of any forwarding address. Please help me by destroying all records of correspondence with me.

Yours
faithfully,

Tobias.

And this email to my good friend Edward:

I have to cancel this transaction – the authorities are on to me – I will be fleeing to the Bahamas – I’ll advise you of any forwarding address. Please help me by destroying all records of correspondence with me. I am in desperate need of this help – I fear I may have to turn to violence to solve this problem and trust that you would be prepared to harbour me until this all blows over.

I have received an anonymous tip off that the Australian Fraud Squad have tracked my emails and are presently preparing for my address – pray that I will escape their clutches. I trust that you will find a suitable way to continue with this transaction in my absence.
I suspect that Mr Wood was not all he seemed to be and he may in fact have provided my name to the authorities. I am deeply angered at him and my vengeance will be swift and sure – I have already started tracking his address through IP tracking technology and he can expect to feel the full extent of my wrath in the near future – I hope his untimely demise does not adversely affect your ability to do business with the bank. My private army the Raging Daschunds will tear the still beating organs from his body and smite him with all the vengeance of a school of Piranesi dancing fish. We will not be mocked.

My warm regards to your beautiful family. I am sorry that we never had the chance to meet in person.

Yours faithfully,

Tobias.

Then Max Power stepped in with this email to both parties.

To Whom It May Concern,

We wish to inform you of the arrest of one of your correspondents a Mr Tobias Walther Schranner for the crime of Internet Fraud. Mr Schranner has been charged for launching and participating in several online transactions of a dubious nature. We have every reason to believe that he was intending to lure you into such a deal using the Queensland Scam – a mutation of the famous Nigerian Scam email fraud.
Mr Schranner lures unsuspecting business people into trusting relationships before stealing vital personal information. He has been known to extort or murder his victims in the pursuit of personal wealth. He has vast resources and a personal army of dubious characters at his disposal. We believe he continues to pose a risk to your person even while under guard. Please take all measures necessary to
protect yourselves and stay safe.
If you have had any correspondence with this hardened criminal could you please forward it to this account for monitoring. We believe we have intervened at a crucial time for your safety and warn you to comply to our requests or risk prosecution.

The penalties involved with this particular scam involve the revokation of the licence to practice business and we expect that this Mr Schranner will be prevented from operating further fraud in the future. If we can find the required proof the prosecution are expected to seek capital punishment. Our capital city is Canberra and its prison is legendary in its harsh treatment of white collar criminals.

Thank you for
your cooperation

Max Power,
Special Agent,
Anti-Corruption Squad,
Internet Security Branch 74
Coonabarabran,
Australia

Fraud Squad member needed

My business transaction with Edward NKanga is entering the final stages. I’ve decided that I’m going to need to be investigated for fraud – then sent to jail for a lengthy prison term. I need someone who is willing to pose as the fraud squad – potentially requiring a new email address to be set up using hotmail or gmail. If you feel suitably creative let me know and I’ll collaborate with you to bring Tobias Walther Schranner to justice, along with his nefarious companion Mr E NKanga. I may also have a Damascus road moment and tell Edward that I’ve converted to Christianity and no longer feel prepared to go through with this deception – I could tell him that I’m praying for his soul.

Without wishing to bore you too much with lengthy quotes from emails, here are some of the highlights from the last two emails I received, and my responses:

Thank you very much for your response.I do not mind a mobile phone.I will be
vetry happy to get the details from you regarding the investment plans you have
for this funds. I want you to also understand that the most pressing thing at the moment is to get the funds transfered into any of your nominated bank account.I am presently working on procuring the legal document that will present you as the legal beneficiary to this funds.By God’s grace this document will be ready before the end of today.I want you to know that the charges involved in procuring this document will be taken care by me but please note that once i get this documents i will send it to you along with the full contact information of the bank. Further note that once i do this i will be counting on you to seal this transaction because from my calculation this funds should be in your account within seven bank days of you contacting the bank.Before i forget my full name is Edward
Nkanga,i am married with four lovely daugthers.I am presently living in
rue 22 by 39 medina dakar senegal.I was born on july 8th 1964.I will get
back to you with further details and instructions.
Remain
blessed,
Edward Nkanga


He followed that email up with the bank details as promised – and a form letter that I could fill in to send to the bank making my claim.

Dear Tobias,

I am very pleased to inform you that i have been able to procure the legal document which will present you as the next of kin to Adreas Schranner.This document is attached to this mail for your perusal.I want you to now proceed and contact the bank and request for the immediate transfer of your inheritance to your nominated bank account.Below is the full contact information of the bank:

National Credit Services
Tel: +44 704 010 8962
Tel: +44 795 525 8663
Fax: +44 709 287 5848
Email:thomas.wood.ncs@hotmail.com
Contact: Mr Thomas Wood, Director of operation

I complied to his request, adding a lengthy preamble to the letter and making a couple of changes in order to keep any real information out of the correspondence.

Mr Thomas Wood,

I have recently been contacted by a Mr E Nkanga, former assistant to my late cousin Mr Andreas Schranner. He informed me of the untimely passing of my cousin in an accident some years ago. I was unaware of the untimely demise of my relative until very recently. I have spent many years living in isolated wilderness penning my memoirs which I believe contain a story that must be told to the world. The story of my life is an interesting one, and a story which I will share in part with you.
I was born in an Australian grotto called Gundegai, a poverty stricken village famous for its love of canines. Dogs are revered as Gods in this town and villagers often go without food so that the town’s dog population remains well fed and honoured. You may be familiar with the nursery rhyme “This old man” in which Nick Nack Paddy Whack gives a dog a bone before rolling home. This rhyme tells the story of my uncle Nick, (Andreas’ father) who quite literally had to roll home after a dog consumed his leg while he stood – giving him no leg to stand on. This is
just an interesting extract from my memoirs and one that serves to show the closeness of my relationship with my departed cousin.
I no longer choose to conduct my business by pen and paper, instead relying solely on digital technology. I have attached an electronically verified version of my signature which I assure you is the normal business practice within my industry.
I send this email from my off shore assistant’s (Mr Nathan Campbell) account as I do not want the tax authorities to discover the extent of my inheritance until I declare it. Government corruption makes doing business in my country a double edged sword – there are benefits, and problems – for those wishing to work as
entrepreneurs. However, all this is as we say, by the by.


The lengthy cover letter followed an included a section for my details at the bottom:

FULL NAME:Tobias Walther Schraenner
ADDRESS:1 Wadinga Ct
Coonabarabran
TEL NO:+61 132 221
FAX NO: n/a
PROFESSION: Venture Capitalist
DATE
OF BIRTH: 29 Feb 1976
SEX: Not till marriage
MARITAL STATUS: Unmarried
DATE: 12 Feb 2007
SIGNATURE:
TWSfile101.jpg

And to conclude I sent a follow up email to Edward (I should point out that I have never given him my mobile number and I expect him to follow that up – I’ll say the email was obviously lost in the internet’s black hole or something.

Edward,

As you will see I have contacted the bank – and included you in a blind carbon copy – unfortunately due to my accounting procedures I have had to request a bank cheque, I hope this causes you no further inconvenience. I can not have the amount in question appear in my account without going through necessary procedures for taxation purposes.

Edward, I thank you for your partnership in this deal and look forward to a continued arrangement. I am a little worried about the financial institution we are dealing with because I note that the banker in question uses a hotmail account. I have grave concerns that we are both set to be seriously taken to the cleaners (a metaphor for thievery in my country). I do trust that you have conducted necessary enquiries into this situation. Please contact me on the mobile number previously provided to alay my concerns.
Edward, your family sounds happy and lovely, I wish you all the best in your future and pray that your daughters find husbands who will love the lord and provide for them with the same grace and ability that you yourself have.

Senegal is a nation dear to my heart. Your national football team brings me great joy – and also did during the World Cup. I must ask, who is your favourite player? For me it is Pappa Babba “Smurf” Diop. He is a goal scoring wunderkid who will bring great glory to your marvellous nation.

I wait with baited breath for further correspondence from yourself addressing these questions and concerns.

Tobias

Further letters from Edward

Climate Change
Peter Garrett and Malcolm Turnbull, the two great hopes of the major political parties, had a debate on climate change yesterday. I fear the election campaign will be dominated by an issue that is really not Australia’s battle to be fighting. Climate change will probably continue occuring despite our efforts given the meagre contribution we make to global emissions. While our output is high per capita the US, China and India – and even the sheep in New Zealand – have more to answer to than we do. I’m sick of the issue and I don’t see why we should harm our economy by stopping our industries when global climate change will still cause the drought/flood conditions we’re facing anyway. Sure, we have a responsibility to look after the environment – but the government has a responsibility to look after its people. It’s not butterflies and hurricanes people – closing down our coal industry will not have any significant global impact while other countries continue to run theirs.

David Hicks
Issue two on the political agenda is the plight of unconvicted terrorist David Hicks, why he’s any more worthy of public support than any other Australian citizen incarcerated on foreign shores is beyond me. The guy’s an Al Queda insider and will eventually be tried, and quite frankly he deserves to be there. What about the Bali 9? what about Schappelle? I saw a group of protestors standing on a corner today calling for his release. Talk about a wasted effort – what does a protest in Townsville have to do with the plight of an Australian war criminal/terrorist under US control – again, not butterflies and hurricanes… If people want to make a difference why not take a meal to a refugee in one of the Australian facilities – their only crime is wanting the freedoms and protections afforded Australian citizens (slightly ironic) they don’t necessarily want to blow anyone up. That’s a worthy cause and I’m sick of stupid activists who think their voice will make a difference. Actions make a difference – and according to the cliche, they speak louder than words anyway. If you’re that worried about Hicks go launch a rescue mission, I’m sure Osama wants his general back. Hicks is an embarassment to Australia – not because of the government’s inaction but because of his actions, he chose to side with the bad guys.

Speaking of bad guys… my pen pal Edward wrote back to me after I revealed I’m a venture capitalist… for those who missed it, Edward generously agreed to raise my commission to the exact level he’d already offered. I suggested I’d be able to find suitable investment arrangments in Australia for his share of the profits:

Tobias,
Thanks for your comprehensive response.
Meanwhile,i thought you would have send the informations i requested from you such as 1.Your full name 2.Your private telephone and fax number3.Your address4.Your present occupation
Though you said that your email was slow but please remember to
include them in the reply to this mail to enable give you more necessary
information regard to this transaction.
I will be very happy if you will really find a good business where where this fund will be invest in your country.
I will be waiting for your urgent response.
Best Regards,
Edward Nkanga


I replied to his email with the following:

Edward,

I’m sorry I haven’t responded until now. I’ve been very confused. I’m not sure exactly why you need these sorts of details to complete the transaction. I think If I am to give out such personal information I need some assurances that the money is real and that I will receive my percentage. I don’t want to appear greedy but I’m worried by the risks involved and don’t want to be hurt in this deal. My uncle Geronimo, a descendant of a Native American tribe, always said that I should never trust a man named after a prince of England so I am understandably wary. This does seem to be a fantastic opportunity to do business and I’m not completely adverse to taking risks in business ventures. My work as a business venture
capitalist and stock broker means I’m often involved with risky deals. My cousin’s brother’s cousin is an investment adviser and he says the internet is the next big thing when it comes to finding new investment opportunities. I guess that means I should trust you when it comes to doing deals like this. I only hope that you are worthy of this faith that I will put into you. Or I will hunt you down with the vengeance of 1000000 bumble bees. It is in the best interest of both parties concerned that you respond to me as quickly as possible so that we can continue making this deal. But like I say, I need real assurances that you still intend to go ahead with this transaction and would suggest that due to the risks involved in the procedure my percentage should be say 40% of the profits plus a return on future
investments in my country. Changing my name has severely confused a number of my clients and my close family who think I’m stupid to take these measures so early in the process. I believe it is better to act first and deal with consequences later – I tell you this so you know the lengths I am going to to help you out with your business deal.

Tobias

Also – If my request for a larger share of the profits offended you I would be willing to negotiate like all reasonable business men. As far as I can see we are equal partners in terms of the risk but it is you who created the opportunity so I
would be happy with a 60-40 % split.


He didn’t respond to that email, perhaps realising that I am not who I seem to be. I did not want to lose out on this opportunity so initiated further contact.

I’m worried that I have not heard from you since my last reply? I apologise if my lack of immediate trust offended you – but I really must be cautious these days because while the internet brings opportunities like this for respectable people to do business there are those who would use it for less honest means.

Please contact me as soon as possible.
My details are:
Tobias Walther Schranner
I do not have a fax machine and my telephone is currently out of
service – however you should be able to leave a message with my secretary
on +61 132 221
My PO box number is 42
I am a banker/venture capitalist/stock broker for my own private firm.

For those worried that I have provided a career criminal with my personal details, please not that this phone number is the number for the Commonwealth Banks telephone banking service… Edward was no doubt a little confused:


Dear Tobias,

Thank you very much for your response.I have gone through all your email with all seriousness and i very well appreciate the effort you have made in respect to this transaction.

I want you to understand the real essence of this transaction and at the same time give you further details regarding this transaction.With the details you provided i will go ahead and procure the required legal documents that will fully present you as the legitimate next of kin to the deceased.

I have tried calling you on the number which you provided but i kept getting a computer recorded message.I will very much love to speak to you so please i will like you to provide me a direct telephone number where i can reach you.

Meanwhile i will begin the process of procuring the legal documents.

I expect to hear from you soonest.

Remain blessed,
Edward Nkanga


Not wishing to disappoint Edward with his request to hear from me soonest I responded immediately.

Edward, I do apologise – that’s the best number to get me on through my current work with the bank I am unable to provide a further number at this time, hopefully my new office landline will be connected shortly. Would a mobile
number be suitable? Email is probably my preferred method of communication as I am often too busy to answer my phone.

I am preparing some contracts for further investment of your funds in the country and have some opportunities I would like to discuss with you in the future. Please could I also have your full name, address and date of birth for my records.

Tobias


Political Football

I was pondering things last night, deep and meaningful things. I’ve talked before about our cultural idea of loyalty and how its a concept that’s dissipating throughout society. Divorce rates are sky rocketing, careers, cars, houses, allegiances, promises – everything is disposable. There was an article in yesterday’s SMH talking about the restructuring of wedding vows to do away with “till death do us part.” The only allegiances that seem to be held to are those to a football team. Which has interesting ramifications for other ill conceived allegiances – and particularly those to a particular political party.

With no real research, or anything to back up these figures, I’d say the electorate is divided into three types of voter – the party member, the swinging voter, and the uninterested (otherwise known as the stupid masses). Swinging voters will decide their vote on the issues in a campaign (or the personalities involved – which I believe is more likely but what voters see is how a candidate handles the issues that the political theorists have decided should be the election issues… which generally works out to be financially motivated), the uninterested masses will either donkey vote, vote for the most visible candidate, or vote against a candidate they have an arbitrary dislike for. These people don’t really interest me – well not when it comes to this post anyway. I’m wondering what it is that draws people to a political party to begin with. Ideology must play some part but there are other factors at play – from personal experience I decided which parties I support in principle before I knew what each particular party stood for. Anecdotaly other people choose their party alliance based on who’s in power (or not in power) in their electorate when they have to start voting. Rabid support of a party based on the party identity only is an interesting beast. Toeing the party line as a supporter lacks rationality – toeing the party line on an ideological basis is just as irrational – there’s no real underlying ideological differences between the major Australian parties these days. Elections are now fought on who will govern best based on implementation of economic policies rather than based on who has the better ideological policies. Economic rationalism and a stance as close to the political centre as possible seems to drive both the Labor opposition and the Coalition government more than any stance on social justice, industrial relations (including traditional union movements) and this is the current government’s great strength – by bringing the opposition on to their platforms they should be able to beat them in that particular fight at any given time. Rudd seems to be trying really hard to move away from that with his policies on education and the environment. I’ve spoken to a couple of people about how they decided who to vote for and traditional family pressures comes up as a reason quite frequently. The problem with that model is that the traditional positions of the major parties no longer exists because the political and socioeconomic climate has changed (ahha haha ha – climate change joke). Why anyone chooses to be a party member or support a party any further than the ballot box these days – without a vested interest in a party getting to power – is beyond me. At the same time, I’ll still probably vote the same way I did last time just because they’re the team I support. And that puzzles me.

I’d be interested to hear, without anyone having to proclaim their particular position – why you’ve chosen who to vote for in past elections – or who you’ll vote for in the future. I have a feeling that for the majority of educated people heartstring loyalty gives way to purse string rationality while for the dumb masses its a matter of the candidate who runs the most impressive public relations campaign who’ll get the nod.

Response from Edward

I’m in training at work today so I’ll have to respond later – any suggestions for an occupation will be considered.

My Dear Tobias,
Thank you very much for your response.As you said that you have change your name to Tobias,i want you to know that your percentage will be increase to 30 once we see your seriousness and your effort and act on instructions given in this transaction then this transaction will be completed within few bank working days.Note that i got your contact over the internet while i was looking for someone honest and trustworthy at the sametime capable of assisting me conclude this transaction.

I want to further inform you that this transaction is for real and it would be handled in the most legal way possible.I will further like to provide you with the details and instructions regarding this transaction but i want you to have one thing in mind which is for the smooth success of this transaction honesty must be our watch word.

This deal is a very sensitive business and for this reason, it requires a high level of understanding to go about it because your utmost concern and willingness would go along way to justify the essence of your involvement to realize this objective.Your assistance is needed to fit you in as the true beneficiary/next of kin to claim the said fund and having you as a foreign partner to execute this deal.

Once,i receive this required information that is:
1.Your full name 2.Your private telephone and fax number3.Your address4.Your present occupation

I will process the necessary document that will legally back up the claim of the fund (through the service of an attorney).I would like to also use this opportunity to request for your support at all levels of ensuring that this business come to a successful end.I would therefore want to confide in you that there would be some financial commitments from your part to foresee the processing of this business. I alone cannot be able to handle this on my own because it would require the cooperation of both parties to process this business without any hitch.

I like being sincere in any situation I find myself just to understand other people. I have learned to trust people especially those of the international community. I only want to make you aware of this facts because it is better you understand how this works out.You just have to bear all this in mind and I would therefore, for matter of urgency, require from you, your full cooperation by return mail, your willingness based on the facts given and also, confirm your particulars to enable the lawyer begin the processing of the necessary documentation to effect the transfer.

I have arranged all the necessary modalities to ensure a successful transfer of the fund with utmost assurance based on your full commitment regarding the transaction.At the same time, i have agreed that 25% of the money will be yours after the receipt /confirmation of the money in your designated bank account;5% will be for refund due to any expenses incurred by both parties during the course of the transaction while 70% will be for me . I hope to use mine for investment opportunities when I come over to your country after the deal is successfully completed.

Note that once i confirm your particulars,the lawyer will proceed right away with the processing of the legal documents that will legally present you as the beneficiary to the funds.Be informed that this transaction is 100% risk free.I look forward to your urgent response.
Best Regards,
Edward Nkanga.

My quest to get the Wiggles blacklisted

The Chaser ran a story from America on a fundamentalist church group outraged at the US’s refusal to outlaw homosexuality. They picket the funerals of US soldiers killed in Iraq and do all sorts of other extreme things that give the rest of us normal Christians a bad name. The church is so rabidly anti-gay that they provide their followers with a list of good and bad musicians based on gayness. The bad list includes obvious candidates like Elton John and George Michaels – plus Morrissey as a bracketed “questionable” – blacklisted bands can be simply gay sympathetic rather than gay gay. Marylin Manson makes an appearance despite his failing marriage to a burlesque dancer. Anyway, while they are crazy looneys, this whole band blacklisting thing is interesting. I figured that the site’s administrators would not be completely on top of the music situation downunder in li’l ol’ OZ, so I emailed the site’s administrator who is always on the look out for bands to ban because:


“One of the most dangerous ways homosexuality invades family life is through popular music. Parents should keep careful watch over their children’s listening habits, especially in this Internet Age of MP3 piracy. “

Here’s the bands I suggested they look out for – or immediately add to their list. Feel free to suggest more.

Hi from downunder…
Here’s a few gay friendly Australian bands to add to your list:
The Wiggles (men in rainbow coloured shirts singing supposedly harmless children’s songs with gay undertones)
Hillsong
The wunderpants band
Oli goes over
Protruding Dinosaurs
Herbie and the artic adventurers

I may have made up all but the first two – but look out for Hillsong and the Wiggles to be blacklisted by these crazies.

I’ve been contacted by a second Nigerian scammer who wants me to help him deal with an inheritance problem he’s had since his boss, Andreas Schanner was killed in a plane crash back in 2000. Here’s a clip from the email he sent:

“The total amount involved is Sixteen million Seven Hundred Thousand United States Dollars only [$16,700.000.00] and we wish to transfer this money into a safe foreigners account abroad. But I don’t know any foreigner, I am only contacting you as a foreigner because this money can not be approved to a local person here, but to a foreigner who has information about the account, which I shall give to you upon your positive response.

I am revealing this to you with believe in God that you will never let me down in this business, you are the first and the only person that I am contacting for this business, so please reply urgently so that I will inform you the next step to take urgently.At the conclusion of this business, you will be given 25% of the total amount,70% will be for us, while 5% will be for expenses both parties might have incurred during the process of transferring. I look forward to your earliest reply through my yahoo email edwardnka@yahoo.com PLEASE, TREAT THIS PROPOSAL AS TOP SECRET.
Best Regards,Edward Nkanga.”

To help him settle the issue I’ve created Tobias Walther Schanner, a long lost heir to the Schanner family fortune – I sent him this email complete with an authentic deed poll document.

“Edward – it is so coincidental that you choose today to write to me. I have friends who knew closely the pilot of that plane crashing on July 25. I would be very happy to help you out but being a professional business investor I need more information to establish your bona fides. Be sure that I treat your correspondence with all the seriousness I can muster when presented with figures of that amount.

In order to demonstrate my willingness to go through with the transaction I have changed my name by deed poll to Tobias Schranner – thus allowing me to pose as an undiscovered heir to the fortune. I have attached a scan of the deed poll document which I suggest you destroy once you’ve seen it. I hope this makes proceeding further an easier deal and I’m happy to share the fortune at the proportion you suggest – although perhaps a greater share should go to me due to the trouble I’ve taken. I leave this up to you for your decision.
Tobias.”

Fun with the internet Part 3

My work has a fairly comprehensively efficient spam filter – so it was with great delight that I received the following “official” correspondence.

From: Rose Owen
Abidjan Cote d ivoire
West Africa
Dearest One,
How are you today? My Name is Miss Rose OwenI am 19 years old age girl. Is a pleasure to send you this email message I am pleading you to go through it and get back to me?. Also my dear good one i saw your profill that is why i have contacted you for urgent assistance to me, I am pleading to save my life. Please due reply me through my private mail box above. And also send me your direct email and your telephone number to reach you.
It is my pleasure to contact you for a business venture which I intend to establish in your country. Though I have not meet with you before but I believe, one has to risk confiding in succeed sometimes in life. There is this huge amount of four million five hundred thousand U.S dollars ($7.5m) which my late Father Mr.Albert Owen kept for me in security company here in Abidjan before he was assassinated by unknown persons during this war in Cote d’ivoire. Now I have decided to invest this money in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security and political reasons. I want you to help and assist me claim and retrieve this fund from the security company and transfer it into your personal account in your country for investment purposes on these areas: 1). Telecommunication 2). The Transport Industry3). Five Star Hotel

If you can be of an assistance to me I will be pleased to offer to you 15% of the total
fund. I await your soonest response.

Respectfully yours,
Rose Owen.

I’ve always wanted to be the victim of a Nigerian scam – and I decided that an Ivory Coast scam was close enough. I’ve tried replying before – but mentioning suspicions early on in the piece always seem prohibitive to further correspondence. In fact I’ve heard about scam baiters who received all sorts of small presents in the early throes of correspondence.

Here is my first reply:

Greetings Rose,

Your offer is one of intrigue. I am interested. But sadly I have heard that people will use the email to rob me of my money. I am a very rich man and can’t have that happen. I need you to provide me some form of assurance that you are indeed able to provide such funds. In my line of business this is a normal practice.

Please reply with any thoughts you may have.

Rose was quick to sense a nibble at her well baited hook… we’re now on intimate first name terms:

Dearest Nathan,

Thanks very much for your mail and I am very glad to hear from you. I understood how you feel most especially as we don’t know each other; I will be more than happy if you are able to make a trip to come down here to visit me concerning this transaction. You will also have the time to examine the genuine of this transaction, and then meet with the security company management face-face on my behalf to discus for the release/transferring of the consignment to your country.
I contacted you because of my present situation and due to the political crises going on in my country now, since I lost my father I have been struggling to survive it. The saddest of it all is that the present government after killing my father seized all he has in possession; all let for me is this only money in one trunk box he deposited with the security company as family valuable.
I am given you the assurance that this transaction is real and genuine, I want you to believe me for the sake of God because I want to have this fund invested in your country. Then you arrange for me to come over to continue my education which I stopped after the death of my father.
The entire vital document for the deposit of the box is with me and I am ready to send copies to you to prove the existence of the consignment. I also have a photo my late father took the fund in the box before depositing it with the security company. I can send them to you as soon as you requested for it together with the contact details of the security company. Please I need your assistance and I want you to feel free to help me so that I can be able to start a new life with any investment you made with this fund.
Please Sir, I want you to give me your contacts/address information for more easy communication and I assure you my sincere heart in this transaction. Please I want you to assure me your honest assistance and get back to me with your information so that we can proceed. Have a nice day and I am waiting to hear from you soonest.
Thanks,
Yours faithful,
Rose.

Not wanting to appear to eager to help out this 19 year old damsel in distress I waited a week before today’s reply:

Rose,

Sorry I haven’t replied for so long. I had a deadly batch of flux that I have just managed to get rid of. Please pray that this does not become reflux. The sickness caused me to reflect on my affairs. I must ask – do you have access to the post? If so, could you mail me some proof that you are indeed a “real” person and that this is in fact the real deal. My uncle Aldo was once caught by one of dubious morals while using the internet. You understand that while I am desperate to help you I also must proceed with caution when giving you personal details. If you send me the photos and contact details I while do my best to help you start your new life in my country, maybe we could even meet up. I am looking for a wife.

Hopefully I won’t have to wait too much longer to hear from Rose and continue this potentially valuable relationship. I will keep you posted on any updates I receive. I realise this is not a novel idea and many others have had success poking fun at the scammers. I just want to see how many diseases I can potentially die of – I may even offer to include Rose in my will.