Thursday, May 12, 2011

Random pareidolia

Ok, Been a while since anyone's posted here but found this, made me laugh, and since the vast majority of humanity is pissing me off i figured i would share the laughs rather than move to a shack in the woods plotting the downfall of civilization.

from here

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How To Spot A Scam

I am currently looking for a new job. With the search comes some standard scams, one of which I will illustrate below. I have received quite a few but I decided to post this one because it was subtle and fairly well composed. My comments will be inserted within brackets.

How are you Brian it is wonderful to hear from you.

[This is better than most already. Though the e-mail is in English and spelled correctly, it is grammatically incorrect.]

I appreciate you e-mailing us. In case the posting was not clear, the responsibilities of this position are as follows: you will be answering the phone and taking messages whenever applicable, you will be scheduling the company meetings, and running errands for the company for things such as purchasing supplies and making bank deposits (you will be provided with a company car). While you are running errands, you will also be given one of our company credit card(s)


for all business purchases.

[I admit, at this point I was cautiously excited. If this job were real, I think I might like it. Considering I had applied for a simple customer service job though, I was a bit suspicious.]

You seem definitely

[Grammar again]

qualified for our job opening, and more so than the other 16 applicants we received applications from.

[Here was my first real red flag. I'm better than the other 16 applicants? That's awfully specific.]

I would like to take the next step with you. However, before I am able to schedule a formal meeting, my company will require that you acquire a recent (past 14-21 business days) credit report.

[Any real company will likely require a credit report. But they always have the ability to do it on their own. They also require forms to be filled out by the applicant to prove informed consent.]

We started this because our company had some bad incidents with prior employees taking advantage of having access to a company credit card.

[A credit and background check would be normal here, but a real employer wouldn't need to qualify the request.]

Both myself and the company

[Grammar, again]

will prefer it that you use

[A URL shortener is a bad sign. Don't follow that link. I did in a sandbox and found the URL goes through several domains before resolving to a (possibly) real credit reporting agency. Again, you wouldn't need to do this. And you should never follow a shortened URL in this kind of e-mail, it's unprofessional at best, duplicitous at worst.]

to acquire your check as they are offering the check at zero cost to you (unlike other places). We also discovered that their scores always report back the most factual and accurate information.

[I didn't check to see if this credit reporting agency was real. If they are trying to get personal information a real one would work. Based upon the multiple domains and the fact that this is a clear scam, I have doubts....]

Once you submit all of the required information, they will show your personal report. Then, you need to email me the reported credit score, a phone number that you can be easily reached, and your availability schedule to arrange an interview.

I ask you to not email me the entire report, as it will have private content. If you have a lower than expected credit score, it will never prevent you from a position with us. I had a fairly low score whenever I started.

[This is interesting. These guys are smart, they expect me to be suspicious. What are they really after? If not personal information, what? But it still sounds like a scam....]

If you do not want to complete a recent credit check, unfortunately the company will require that I contact the second choice.

[A time limit like this isn't unsurprising in a case like this, but the wording just strikes me as fishy.]

Personally, I am hoping to fill this position with a new friendly face and am looking forward to your quick response.

Have a fantastic Thursday,

Kind Regards,
Lois Freeman- HR

Below is the response I sent. Before you say I was too hasty, I did a search for both the body of the e-mail and the name "Lois Freeman" in Google. It didn't take very long to discover that this is a mass e-mail sent all over the country. Since personal information is (at this stage, at least) unnecessary, I suspect this would have led to either increasingly personal questions as the scammer attempted to gain my trust, or an invitation into a multi-level marketing scheme.


I will not be sending you a credit report or any other information.
Based on the wording of your e-mail, the URL you provided and some
basic research on my part, it seems clear this is a scam and not an
honest job offer. I have taken the liberty of reporting you and your
header information to both Craigslist and to the Federal Trade
Commission. Have a nice day.

I found this "job" on Craigslist. I don't mention that site by name to implicate or admonish them, rather to point out the ease in which scammers can enter into our lives. Craigslist is a very popular site for job hunters, and for good reason. But like any tool it, and those like it across the Internet (and even the Internet itself) can and will host cons. Be careful. The con I posted above was not obvious at all. The scammers get better at this every day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Simple Galileo Fallacy

I frequently hear those on the fringe say that while there is no evidence for their claims, they are in good company. Galileo was called a crank in his day, but he was right. By that logic homoeopathy, for example, must be right as well. Let me take a moment to pop that absurd little bubble.

Galileo's public support of heliocentrism was, indeed, harshly criticised by many, as is homeopathy now. But like the wild-eyed incredulous, anti-science alternative medicine movement, Galileo was also maligned mostly by the anti-science lunatic fringe. Scientists generally agreed with him because his arguments had logic, reason, and evidence. Those who rejected him and his ideas were those who rejected, or were afraid of, science. Just like the Alt-Med people. The homeopaths are not in good company. Do the cranks think before they speak? I don't think so either.

Meetup Group

We finally have a meetup group set up. check it out at We will keep that updated for future meetups and communications! Hopefully we will continue to post on here as well.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Skeptical Book Group: His Dark Materials

The skeptics have voted, and the first book for the new book group component of skeptics in the pub will be “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman.  I’ve never read this series, and am thrilled to be checking them out; from what I have been told, you can expect a C.S. Lewis style novel with more of an atheist bent, and no Jesus Lion. 
                His Dark Materials is a trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, so while many of us are reading all three, there is no pressure to do so, read what you can and come join us for discussion.
                I have both the audio files for the audio book as well as the PDF of the Ebook if you prefer to read that way, in addition to the torrent trackers so you can download them yourselves if it is not convenient to get them directly from me.
                The book group plans on meeting in early March, but as of yet, we don’t have a set date for when we should meet.  We have three options on the table so far: the book group could meet before or after the normal skeptic meetup, we could make the book group a part of the skeptical meetup once every month (my only hesitation is that while most of the group seems to be interested in the book group, I would be hesitant to hoist it upon those who aren’t), or we could meet on a separate night entirely; as we approach March we will pin down the specifics.

                In addition to His Dark Materials, some of the other books that seemed to have the most support were:
Robin Baker’s “Sperm Wars,” which is sort of an “everything you never knew about human sexuality book”

“Preacher” by Garth Ennis which is a graphic novel about a cleric who decides to hunt down God and make him pay for abandoning humanity.

"Last Chance to See" by Douglas Adams.  This is, in my opinion, one of Adams’ finest works, and he said so until his passing.  Last Chance to see is the collected stories of Adams traveling the globe seeing animals that may be extinct in the very near future.

Of course nothing has been decided yet, but it’s likely that we will be reading at least one of these in the upcoming months, so if you were looking for a preview of things to come there it is.  If you have any questions, or want to get involved just leave a comment and I can get you the info you need.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy New Year (its the lunar new year?)

Sorry I've been lax in posting our locations and meetings, for the latest info on our group, please send me an email and i will add you to our list. We are meeting this saturday (7pm) at Wild Boar on south college just across from the university. We are working on getting a group started on or a similar site, so keep checking back in for updates on that.
Hope to see everyone this week!

Ford: "It's rather unpleasantly like being drunk"
Arthur: "What's so unpleasant about being drunk ?"
Ford: "Try asking a glass of water"