419 Fun

I read this article in the New Yorker a few weeks ago, about “The Perfect Mark” — a man who, in spite of being relatively intelligent, fell for one of the Nigerian “419” scams. (The ones where you get an email saying “I have a million dollars in a blind account and need your help to get it out.”)

I’d always assumed these scams were just quick one-hit stabs at getting a credit card number. I had no idea how deep they actually go, and how sophisticated they are. They strung this guy along for years (and he still wants so much to believe that the characters are real!) and did such an amazing job of reality-twisting. Now when I see these emails, I’m no longer just amused and puzzled but a little creeped out that I just got an email from murderous, organized criminals.

So it feels especially wonderful to run across this site, “Welcome to the 419 Eater” where some clever soul conned the cons. He basically tells them “yeah I wish I could help you, but I’m in the middle of this really big deal that’s making me even more money” and baits them into a similar trap. Only in his case, it’s just an extended practical joke. (He never invites anyone to fly to his country then robs and kills them, for example.)

In this one: http://www.419eater.com/html/john_boko.htm they manage to get a scammer to think they’ll make thousands of dollars by carving strange things out of wood, then claim a hamster has eaten the goods. Hysterical.

More Intel on the Roswell Castle House

Roswell castle house

Originally uploaded by inkblurt.

A friend sent me a link to some info about the house that’s almost as much fun as the house itself. The page on the DuPont Castle website (which has lots of info on other American castles, it seems) has a picture of the house along with tons of emails with various wildly differing stories about the house and its history.
There are some bits of information that sound more accurate than others.
It’s located on the corner of Cagle Rd and Hwy 140 in Roswell, GA.
I looked it up in Google Earth, and lo and behold, found it. Here’s a snapshot from Google Earth (links to the bigger version in my flickr stream).
From the overhead picture, it’s now clear that yes, indeed, there is a real swimming-pool moat around the whole structure.

Wacky Castle House

wacky castle house

Originally uploaded by inkblurt.

Last time I visited my folks, on my drive between their place up around Canton, GA, and the Atlanta airport, I ran across this strange castle-like house, tucked in the midst of semi-rural suburbs.
I’m dying to know what the heck this thing is.
It appears to have a moat around it, because in the front there’s a railing that looks like it goes into a pool (from my vantage point outside the gate, it was hard to tell).
Out back, it has a weird little smaller castle house like a pool house, maybe? And some creepy cartoonish character sculptures.
It must not be a very new house, because it has a gigantic TV antenna sprouting from one of the conical roofs. (I forgot the word for those things.)
There are a few more pics in the flickr stream, linked from the picture.
(Edit: See the new info on the house in this post)

IAI Badgerifficness

A while back, I couldn’t help myself, and made a little badge for my link to the IA Institute:

And now it’s popping up in really cool places like Japan! (Noriyo Asano’s IA Spectrum).

Yay badges!

(Yeah, I know they’re somewhat tacky … somewhere between pink flamingos and happy meal toys, but like I said I couldn’t help myself.)