No one is innocent - we are all guilty of something

"No man is so exquisitely honest or upright in living, 
but that ten times in his life he might not lawfully be hanged."

The photo is from the book Least Wanted: A Century of American Mugshots. Read about it at the Smithsonian Magazine>>

Pranks are not funny when they involve murder

Theodore Miller is a prankster.

A woman named Jolleen Hanna befriended a man named Theodore Miller who she and her two kids met while camping. When they returned, he followed them home. He said he was homeless, so she let him spend a few nights in her house. Then he camped in the nearby woods.

When the woman discovered he was a pedophile and had pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and one count of intimidation, she made him leave.

A few days later, he was arrested for violating his probation. He told police he murdered a woman and her two kids. The police searched an area next to the railroad tracks where he said he buried the bodies.

After the newspaper published a story on the search, a relative contacted Ms. Hanna and said, "You're in the paper."

The man in jail had played a prank on them by falsely confessing to killing them.

Ms. Hanna, understandably very upset, called police, who said that Mr. Miller might have some mental health issues.

He remains in jail.
"...I’m concerned that he really might have hurt somebody and just mixed up their names with us. I don’t know where to go from here. And I’m worried about the day he gets out. I’m in fear for my life and my children’s lives,” said Ms. Hanna.
Murder Hoax: Man Allegedly Lies About Killing Woman, Kids, Fox8 Cleveland>>
'I’m in fear for my life’ Ohio woman learns of own murder hoax in newspaper, The Dickson Press>>

The "steam dummy" - the little engine that tried to pretend it wasn't a steam engine

It's just a cute little house on rails that won't scare anybody.

See? Look how small it is!
(These look like the drawings meant to reassure buyers.)

Here's an "enclosed" steam dummy where they didn't
try too hard with the "enclosed" part.

In the mid-1800s in American cities, horses and mules pulled streetcars for transportation. But they were too expensive to run, unreliable and unsanitary. When companies tried using steam locomotives, horses got  spooked.

Companies responded by inventing the steam dummy. The dummy used a lower-pressure condensing engine which did not make as much noise releasing steam. And the steam dummy was disguised to look like a passenger car.

It's possible that the name "steam dummy" was a play on words. Dummy meant both noiseless, and (if I look it up in a 1913 Webster's dictionary): "A sham package in a shop, or one which does not contain what its exterior indicates."

There were two types of steam dummies. Either the engine was a separate car which looked like a passenger car and worked like a typical train that pulled passengers in another car, or the engine and passenger car were combined into one car.

But the horses still got scared. It turns out it was the noise of the steam engine, and not what it looked like, that frightened the horses. By the beginning of the 1900s a new technology almost completely replaced the steam dummy: electric streetcars.

A disguised steam dummy, with a prominent smokestack. 
You'll also notice that, unlike the engravings above 
from the marketing department,
all the photos have the wheels showing.

I like how some photographs of the steam dummies 
remove the smokestack completely.
"No, this isn't a fake steam engine, not at all."

Now these guys know how to disguise an engine inside 
a passenger car. However, I think the smokestack has 
conveniently faded away.

The Street railway journal from 1886>>

The advice columnist "Dear Abby" replies to three letters about spouses who continue to lie

A trinity of advice columnists: 
(clockwise from top)
Eppie Lederer (Ann Landers), 
 Pauline Phillips (Abigail Van Buren), 
and Jeanne Phillips (the current Dear Abby.)

Dear Abby: my son-in-law won't stop his bad behavior...

How can you gain some perspective on spouses who lie and cheat and deceive? Just read these three Dear Abby columns from a bizarre parallel universe where Abby receives letters in triplicate:
DEAR ABBY: My 24-year-old daughter married her high school sweetheart whom she has been with for nine years. She is a vegetarian. He said he was also a vegetarian, but he ate meat while they were dating. They have been married a year now, and he has eaten meat several more times during their married life.

She has left him twice. The second time she filed for divorce, but he talked her into taking him back. He promises to never eat meat again.

They are so young and healthy, and I hate to see her live a life with a man who lies to her. There are no children, and my daughter has a college education. Abby, my question is: After repeatedly lying, do men ever stop lying about their diet to their wives? – SICK WITH WORRY IN MONTANA

DEAR SICK WITH WORRY: Because your son-in-law continued eating meat more than once, I seriously doubt that he’s going to quit. When a man – or woman – gets set on a certain way of eating, it rarely stops. I hope your daughter understands that BEFORE having children, because she will have children with a man who cannot stop eating meat.
DEAR ABBY: My 24-year-old daughter married her high school sweetheart whom she has been with for nine years. He was unfaithful to her while they were dating. They have been married a year now, and he has been unfaithful several more times during their married life.

She has left him twice. The second time she filed for divorce, but he talked her into taking him back. He promises to be faithful to her now.

They are so young, and I hate to see her live a life with a man who is a cheater. There are no children, and my daughter has a college education. Abby, my question is: After repeated cheating, do men ever become faithful husbands? – SICK WITH WORRY IN MONTANA

DEAR SICK WITH WORRY: Because your son-in-law continued being unfaithful to your daughter more than once, I seriously doubt that he’s going to quit. When a man – or woman – forms a pattern of cheating, it rarely stops. I hope your daughter understands that BEFORE having children.
DEAR ABBY: My 24-year-old daughter married her high school sweetheart whom she has been with for nine years. He had killed his previous girlfriend. They have been married a year now, and he has killed several other people during their married life.

She has left him twice. The second time she filed for divorce, but he talked her into taking him back. He promises to stop killing people.

They are so young, and I hate to see her live a life with a man who is a murderer. There are no children, and my daughter has a college education. Abby, my question is: After repeatedly killing people, do murderers ever become law-abiding citizens? – SICK WITH WORRY IN MONTANA

DEAR SICK WITH WORRY: Because your son-in-law has murdered more than once, I seriously doubt that he’s going to quit. When a man – or woman – repeatedly murders people, it rarely stops. I hope your daughter understands that BEFORE having children. She might also consider calling the police.
Dear Abby column from November 29, 20120, at uexpress>>

Bogus exorcist tricks teen into sex to cast away ghosts

A ceremony to exorcise evil spirits 
by the Nosu (or Yi) of Southwestern China.

I'm surprised that this news story about sexual deception wasn't all over the media. It's originally from the South China Morning Post:
Hong Kong - A bogus exorcist was convicted of tricking a Hong Kong teenager into sex by telling her the act would cast away ghosts haunting her, a news report said on Tuesday.

Second-hand car dealer Chow Kam-wah, aged 52, was found guilty on Monday of three counts of procurement and one of rape of the 19-year-old, the South China Morning Post reported.

Chow duped his victim, who believed she was seeing ghosts, into having sex with elaborate rituals at his home in Hong Kong three times from March to September 2009, the newspaper said.

He would burn incense, stamp on the floor, blindfold the teenager, then draw symbols on her back before having sex with her, Hong Kong's High Court was told on Monday.

Chow pleaded not guilty but was convicted of procurement and rape. He was remanded in custody and is to be sentenced on November 30, the Post said.

In February, a bogus Taoist master who tricked a Hong Kong woman into giving him $190 000 and having sex with him repeatedly in return for "heavenly rewards" was jailed for 56 months.

A month earlier, a self-proclaimed feng shui master was jailed for six years and nine months for duping a 19-year-old Hong Kong model into having sex with him by saying it would rid her of bad luck.
It's possible this story is true, but I think it sounds salacious enough to be made up, doesn't it? It condemns a belief in ghosts as witchcraft that will get gullible young women raped. I wonder if it's a fake story used to attack superstitious practices? Or was it used merely to get more readers, because very few can resist reading a story with a title like "Bogus exorcist tricks teen into sex to cast away ghosts."

'Exorcist' jailed for sex trick, News24>>

Norman Gunston interviews Sally Struthers

Norman Gunston was an Australian interviewer and television
personality played by actor Garry McDonald in the 1970s.

Some were in on the joke and some were not. Some played the straight man and others couldn't stop laughing. In this clip, the funniest one I could find, his fake reporter personality interviews Sally Struthers, famous for her role as the daughter in the 1970s TV show "All in the Family." 

Who was reporter Norman Gunston?

Why George Washington was ignorant

"George Washington as a boy was ignorant of the commonest accomplishments of youth. He could not even lie."

- Mark Twain

25 phrases that mean someone is lying

 God doesn't like liars, either.

Sometimes a speaker says things that sound honest but really mean the speaker is lying. Here are 25 of those phrases. Whenever the speaker says this... they mean this.
  1. “I hate to be the one to tell you this...”
    "I'm glad I'm the one who's telling you."
  2. “With all due respect...”
    "I don't respect you at all, and here's why."
  3. “I hear what you’re saying...”
    "I don't know what the hell you're talking about."
  4. "I’m not a racist, but...”
    "I don't want you to think I'm a racist when I say this horribly racist thing."
  5. “I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, but...”
    "Don't judge me, but I'm going to hurt your feelings."
  6. “It’s not about the money, but...”
    "Of course it's about the friggin' money."
  7. “It really doesn’t matter to me, but...”
    "It matters a lot to me."
  8. "Confidentially...”
    "I'm telling you something I shouldn't be telling you."
  9. “Honestly...”
    "I hope you think I'm being honest, because I'm lying."
  10. “To be completely honest with you...”
    "Now I'm really telling a whopper of a lie."
  11. “Let me give it to you straight...”
    "I'm lying to you and I hope you don't notice."
  12. “No offense, but...”
    "Now I'm going to say something really offensive to you."
  13. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but..."
    "I'm going to offend you."
  14. “I don’t mean to be rude, but...”
    "This is going to be very rude."
  15. “Promise me you won’t get mad, but...”
    "You're going to get really mad."
  16. “It’s really none of my business, but...”
    "I'm going to butt in to something that's none of my business."
  17. “I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, but...”
    "I'm going to make you very uncomfortable."
  18. “Nothing personal!”
    "Of course it's personal!"
  19. “Lighten up!”
    "I've insulted you and you can't do anything about it."
  20. “Can’t you take a joke?”
    "I'm an asshole, but I'll blame you instead."
  21. “Just kidding”
    "I get to say crap to you and you don't get to feel insulted."
  22. “(Imagine an insulting thing here, like 'You're fat') ...but not in a bad way.”
    "I just told you something insulting with a word that means something insulting that you should take in a bad way, but before you can take it in a bad way I'm going to tell you I don't mean it in a bad way so you can't get insulted."
  23. “I’m not saying... (imagine an insulting thing here, like 'Your breath stinks')"
    "I just said crap to you but even though you just heard me saying crap to you I'm immediately denying I said it."
  24. “I’m just being honest...”
    "I'm a lying, insulting sack of crap."
  25. "No, really, I haven't stolen the phrases in this post from the writer Erin McKean..."
    "Yes I have stolen the phrases in this post from the writer Erin McKean."
Read Erin's entire article about these phrases, termed “but-heads,”  “false fronts,” “wishwashers,” and “lying qualifiers:” I hate to tell you: Phrases that announce I'm lying, The Boston Globe>>

The cartoon funded by the CIA

A lobby card for the 1955 anti-Stalinist animated film
"Animal Farm," which says "You'll have the laughs
of your life!" 
Because of the political themes and violence, 
 it was at first restricted to those over 18. 
 It was also funded by the CIA.

Animal Farm was the first animated feature film in the UK. From an article in The New York Times:
Many people remember reading George Orwell's ''Animal Farm'' in high school or college, with its chilling finale in which the farm animals looked back and forth at the tyrannical pigs and the exploitative human farmers but found it ''impossible to say which was which.''

That ending was altered in the 1955 animated version, which removed the humans, leaving only the nasty pigs. Another example of Hollywood butchering great literature? Yes, but in this case the film's secret producer was the Central Intelligence Agency.

The C.I.A., it seems, was worried that the public might be too influenced by Orwell's pox-on-both-their-houses critique of the capitalist humans and Communist pigs. So after his death in 1950, agents were dispatched (by none other than E. Howard Hunt, later of Watergate fame) to buy the film rights to ''Animal Farm'' from his widow to make its message more overtly anti-Communist.
You can watch the entire film for free online:

Never read Animal Farm? Read it and learn the meaning of :

All animals are equal
but some animals are more equal than others.

Free copies of Animal Farm are at:>>
Complete text file at Gutenberg Australia>>

How the C.I.A. Played Dirty Tricks With Culture, The New York Times>>
Second source, at Common Dreams>>

The zip tie that's disguised as a leaf

While not completely deceptive, the whimsical leaf tie by Luftdesign can bring a little bit of outside nature inside.

The televised beer prank that didn't go so well

Right about this point in the broadcast, Finnish TV newscaster 
Kimmo Wilska likely thought "Jumalauta!" ("God Dammit!")

The anchorman was giving a news report about "violations surrounding the sale of alcoholic beverages." When the camera cut away from him he pulled a prank on the crew and pretended to drink an alcoholic beverage on the air. Unfortunately the camera cut back to him faster than he could hide the beer bottle. His bosses didn't appreciate the prank and he was fired. He was not rehired, despite the existence of a "Kimmo Wilska support group" on Facebook.

Don Quixote and the deceptive wedding

"...a moment later the crimson point and half the steel blade
could be seen protruding from his back..."

Don Quixote, a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes, is universally considered one of the greatest books ever published.

In this chapter, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza go to the wedding of the rich young man Camacho and his soon to be wife Quiteria. Don Quixote and Sancho wonder what the rejected suitor, Basilio, (who is not rich and has quite possibly lost his mind out of grief for losing his love) might do.

When you read this - and you should, because it's worth it, and because I labored to cut this short chapter down even shorter to a pithy 1,500 words - remember that Cervantes was simultaneously celebrating and making fun of romantic love.

(This edited excerpt, translated by Samuel Putnam, is from the second book, published in 1615.)
...they heard someone behind them shouting in a loud voice, “Wait a moment, you who are as inconsiderate as you are hasty!”

...As he drew nearer they all recognized him as the gallant Basilio and waited anxiously to see what would come of his words and cries, for they feared that some misfortune would result from his appearance there at such a time. He was exhausted and breathless as he arrived; and, taking his staff, which had a steel point on the end of it, he planted it in the ground in front of the betrothed pair. His face was pale and his eyes were fixed on the bride as he addressed her in a hoarse and trembling voice...

"Long live the rich Camacho! May he spend many long and happy years with the heartless Quiteria! As for the poor Basilio, let him die, seeing that his poverty has clipped the wings of his own happiness and has brought him to the grave!”

Saying this, he seized the staff which he had driven into the ground, and they could then see that it served as a sheath to a fairly long rapier that had been hidden in it. With what might be termed the hilt still planted in the earth, he swiftly, coolly, and resolutely threw himself upon it, and a moment later the crimson point and half the steel blade could be seen protruding from his back, as he lay there transfixed by his own weapon and bathed in blood.

His friends at once came running up to aid him, for they were grief-stricken at his sad fate. Dismounting from Rocinante, Don Quixote took him in his arms and found that he had not yet expired. They were about to withdraw the rapier, but the priest who was present was of the opinion that they should not do so until the dying man had confessed, since the removal of the blade would mean his immediate death. At this point Basilio revived somewhat.

“O cruel Quiteria,” he said in a weak and sorrowing voice, “if in this last and fatal moment you would but give me your hand in marriage, I then might hope that my rash act would find pardon, since through it I had achieved the blessing of being yours.”

Upon hearing this, the priest told Basilio that he should be thinking of the welfare of his soul rather than of his bodily pleasures and should beg God in all earnestness to forgive him his sins and the rash act he had committed. Basilio’s reply was that he would by no manner of means confess himself unless Quiteria first became his bride as only that happiness would give him the will and strength to do it. Don Quixote then took a hand by loudly declaring that the wounded man’s request was only just and reasonable and, moreover, very easy to comply with, and that Señor Camacho would be as much honored by marrying the brave Basilio’s widow as he would be if he were to receive Señora Quiteria directly from her father.

“In this case,” he explained, “it is merely a matter of saying ‘yes’ and no consequence will follow, for the marriage bed will be the grave.” Camacho was listening to it all and was very much bewildered and confused, not knowing what to say or do; but Basilio’s friends were so insistent that he give his consent for Quiteria to marry his rival, in order that the latter’s soul might not be lost as it quitted this life in desperation, that he was moved and even compelled to say that she might do so if she wished, adding that he would be satisfied since it only meant putting off for a moment the fulfillment of his desires...

Then the fair Quiteria, speechless still but now deeply disturbed and, as it seemed, sad and regretful, came up to where Basilio lay with eyes upturned, his breath coming in short, quick gasps as he muttered his loved one’s name... Kneeling beside him, she indicated by signs, not by words, that she wished to take his hand, and at this Basilio opened his eyes and gazed at her with a fixed stare.

"...I would have you state and confess that it is of your own free will and without coercion that you take me to be your lawful husband; for there is no reason why, at such a time as this, you should trifle with me or lie to one who has always dealt so honestly with you.”

As he uttered these words he grew weaker and weaker, and all the bystanders feared that each sinking spell would be his last. Overcome with shame, the modest Quiteria now took his right hand in hers.

“Nothing,” she assured him, “could force me to do a thing that was against my will; and so, as freely as possible, I give you my hand as your lawfully wedded wife and take your own in return

“My mind,” replied Basilio, “is not deranged, nor is my thinking confused, and so, with that power of lucid reasoning with which Heaven has seen fit to endow me, I do hereby give myself to be your husband.”

“And I,” said Quiteria, “will be your wife, whether you live many years or they carry you now from my arms to the grave.”

“That young fellow,” remarked Sancho Panza at this point, “talks a lot to be so badly wounded. They should make him stop this lovemaking and attend to his soul; for so far as I can make out, if it is leaving his body, it has got no farther than his tongue.”

As the pair continued to hold hands, the priest, moved to tears, gave them his benediction; and no sooner had he done so than Basilio nimbly leaped to his feet and, with an unheard-of brazenness, drew the rapier from his body which had served as its sheath. The bystanders were dumbfounded, and some of the more simple-minded and less inquisitive among them began shouting at the top of their voices, “A miracle! A miracle!”

“No miracle,” said Basilio, “but a trick.”

Astounded and bewildered, the priest ran up and, putting out both hands to examine the wound, discovered that the blade had passed, not through Basilio’s flesh and ribs, but through a hollow iron tube filled with blood which he had placed there, the blood, as was afterward learned, having been especially prepared so that it would not congeal.

A stab through the abdomen, from "Magic, Stage
Illusions and Scientific Diversions"
by Hopkins and Evans, 1901.

The short of it was, the priest, Camacho, and all the others found that they had been tricked and made sport of. As for the bride, she did not appear to be resentful. Indeed, when some were heard to say that, having been accomplished through fraud, the marriage would not be valid, she promptly spoke up and stated that she confirmed it anew; from which all present derived the impression that the whole thing had been arranged between the two of them. Camacho and his supporters, on the other hand, were so angry that they proceeded to take vengeance into their own hands...

“Hold, gentlemen, hold!” cried Don Quixote. “It is not reasonable to take vengeance for the wrongs done us by love. Remember that love and war are one and the same thing; and just as in war it is permissible to use wiles and stratagems to overcome the enemy, so in amorous contests those deceptions that are employed in order to attain the desired object are looked upon as proper, providing they are not to the detriment or dishonor of the lady who is sought. Basilio and Quiteria belong to each other by favorable and just decree of Heaven. Camacho is rich and may buy his pleasure when, where, and as it suits him. Basilio has but this ewe lamb, and no one, however powerful he may be, is going to take it away from him. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder; and whoever shall attempt it will first have to pass the point of this lance.”

As he said this, he brandished his weapon with such strength and skill as to frighten all those that did not know him. The effect upon Camacho was to fasten his thoughts intently upon the scorn that Quiteria had shown him, and he accordingly determined to efface her at once from his memory and was ready to listen to the persuasions of the priest, who was a prudent, well-meaning individual. The upshot of it all was, Camacho and his followers became calm and peaceful and put their swords back in their scabbards; for all were now inclined to place the blame upon Quiteria’s fickleness rather than Basilio’s wiles, the spurned bridegroom reasoning that if she had loved his rival before marriage, she would go on loving him after she was wed, and he would do better to thank Heaven for having taken her from him than for giving her to him...

The Pegasus (antelope bird) optical illusion

This fantastical creature could be mistaken for Pegasus, 
the mythological Greek horse.
(Click to enlarge)

The photograph of the Indian Sarus Crane behind an antelope was taken by Mr. Jagdeep Rajput at the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, India.

How to hide money from a thief, by a thief

Probably not a good idea to hide it 
where a burglar would expect to find it.

There are a lot of products that are supposed to help you hide your money from home burglars - like prestained underwear, for instance.(See A most disgusting place to hide your money and How to hide anything.)

Where does a real burglar say you should hid your money?

A burglar says you have to understand a burglar's motivations:
  1. Steal your money and valuables
  2. Get out of house quickly
If you hide everything too well, a thief might tear your place apart and cause more damage by looking. But if you leave some valuables around, the thief will grab the valuables and stop looking for more.

That's the same theory used by people who have dummy wallets full of a little money for a mugger to steal, and hide their real wallet.

If you do leave money lying around, it has to be an appropriate amount. You can't live in a million dollar home and expect a thief to be satisfied with twenty dollars.
If you want to hide valuables, try a kid's room. It's an unlikely spot, and since the room is usually cluttered, it's not easy to do a quick search.

Read more advice at:

The Best Place To Hide Money: Conversation With A Burglar, Personal Finance Advice>>

The forger who looks like your grandfather

The 76-year-old forger Abdullah Azad - 
who is a grandfather - was caught in Britain, 
helping immigrants stay in the country.

He forged letters from officials, visa stamps, and other documents, charging fees starting at £1,000.

How did he do it?

If you were an immigrant who wanted to stay in the country, he would take your passport for up to a year. When he returned it, the passport would have the correct sticker, along with fake letters and documentation from the government.

After you got your passport, if you wanted to become a naturalized British citizen, you had to have your passport examined by the government. His forgeries were so good they passed government inspection.

If you wanted to apply for citizenship, you had to show that you hadn't been traveling back and forth to your country of birth. If you were like many of Mr. Azad's clients - who had been traveling - Mr. Azad would remove the pesky passport pages with the travel stamps.

If you had been granted a student visa allowing you to study in Britain, you have to be enrolled in a college. Mr. Azad had a fake college stamp so you could be "enrolled" without ever having to attend a single class.

Not only was he scamming the government, but many of the people he helped did not even realize he was doing anything illegal.

Mr. Azad was definitely an opportunist. He had been previously caught and jailed, but before his formal release he was offered work in an office, where he stole letterhead paper from a man who become the future mayor. Mr. Azad later used the letterhead paper to help a client avoid deportation.

The master forger aged 76 who has helped up to 15,000 stay illegally in Britain>>
How uncle Azad, the master forger, gave thousands of illegal immigrants a passport to Britain>>

The CIA puzzle that still isn't solved

The Kryptos puzzle sculpture at the Central 
Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia. 

Kryptos is a sculpture, created by artist Jim Sanborn in 1990, that contains secret cryptographic codes. Three of the four encrypted puzzles were solved by 1999, but the last part has proven maddeningly difficult to decipher, so the artist has given the answer to six letters in the last passage.

Mr. Sanborn made the puzzle more difficult by deliberately misspelling some of the words. Also, the last section is short, which makes it more difficult to decode.

“Anybody holding a secret has a position of power, even if it’s a trivial secret,” says the artist.
More on Kryptos>>

The turkey optical illusion

Can you spot the non-turkey face in this "rafter" 
of turkeys? (Yes, that's the correct term for a group. 
And no, it's not called a Congress of turkeys.)
Click to enlarge.

This optical illusion is an example of three different deceptive principles.

Knowing secrets makes you a moron

"The danger is, you'll become something like a moron. 
You'll become incapable of learning from most people 
in the world..."

When you know secret information, other people seem like fools, you stop listening to them, and you become a moron. In 1968, when Henry Kissinger was entering the government, Daniel Ellsberg gave him some advice:
"Henry, there's something I would like to tell you, for what it's worth, something I wish I had been told years ago. You've been a consultant for a long time, and you've dealt a great deal with top secret information. But you're about to receive a whole slew of special clearances, maybe fifteen or twenty of them, that are higher than top secret.

"I've had a number of these myself, and I've known other people who have just acquired them, and I have a pretty good sense of what the effects of receiving these clearances are on a person who didn't previously know they even existed. And the effects of reading the information that they will make available to you.

"First, you'll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all — so much! incredible! — suddenly available to you. But second, almost as fast, you will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information, which presidents and others had and you didn't, and which must have influenced their decisions in ways you couldn't even guess. In particular, you'll feel foolish for having literally rubbed shoulders for over a decade with some officials and consultants who did have access to all this information you didn't know about and didn't know they had, and you'll be stunned that they kept that secret from you so well.

"You will feel like a fool, and that will last for about two weeks. Then, after you've started reading all this daily intelligence input and become used to using what amounts to whole libraries of hidden information, which is much more closely held than mere top secret data, you will forget there ever was a time when you didn't have it, and you'll be aware only of the fact that you have it now and most others don't....and that all those other people are fools.

"Over a longer period of time — not too long, but a matter of two or three years — you'll eventually become aware of the limitations of this information. There is a great deal that it doesn't tell you, it's often inaccurate, and it can lead you astray just as much as the New York Times can. But that takes a while to learn.

"In the meantime it will have become very hard for you to learn from anybody who doesn't have these clearances. Because you'll be thinking as you listen to them: 'What would this man be telling me if he knew what I know? Would he be giving me the same advice, or would it totally change his predictions and recommendations?' And that mental exercise is so torturous that after a while you give it up and just stop listening. I've seen this with my superiors, my colleagues....and with myself.

"You will deal with a person who doesn't have those clearances only from the point of view of what you want him to believe and what impression you want him to go away with, since you'll have to lie carefully to him about what you know. In effect, you will have to manipulate him. You'll give up trying to assess what he has to say. The danger is, you'll become something like a moron. You'll become incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they may have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours."

....Kissinger hadn't interrupted this long warning. As I've said, he could be a good listener, and he listened soberly. He seemed to understand that it was heartfelt, and he didn't take it as patronizing, as I'd feared. But I knew it was too soon for him to appreciate fully what I was saying. He didn't have the clearances yet.
I found this via Kevin Drum's article, Daniel Ellsberg on the Limits of Knowledge, in Mother Jones>>

The excerpt by Daniel Ellsberg is from his book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers>>

How not to phone in a bomb threat prank


Someone called and left a voicemail saying he was going to blow up the Royal Navy.

Who did he call?

He called Lt. Commander Mandy McBain, at the British Royal Navy Command Headquarters.

What exactly did he say?
Yeah, I'm gonna blow up the Royal Navy yeah, next time I come across you. I'll see you in the sea and I'll tip that boat over, everyone on that ship's gonna drown, yeah. So don't try and take nothing to heart, it's gonna happen to you within the next three weeks. If you got something to say about it ring.
And then he left his own cell phone number.

Lt. Commander McBain reported it to security, who reported it to police, who arrested 19-year old Aaron Mitchell, who said it was all a joke.

Unfortunately, the judge said:
Bomb hoaxes in these troubled times have to be taken very seriously. Any false call deviates precious man hours away from the fight against terrorism.
Mr. Mitchell was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison.

His defense lawyer said that cannabis was involved.

'I'm going to blow up the Navy, please call me on...' Hoaxer caught after leaving his mobile phone number, Mail Online>>

"Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat."

 Irish monks worship the sun.

A diagram from Theory of Heat 
by James Clerk Maxwell.

John Morley's book Voltaire is the source of the quote>>

The polishing the Porsche optical illusion

"Money gained at the sacrifice of principle is an illusion
It is not gained permanently. 
That is, it will take to itself wings and fly away." 

Can you find Vincent Price in a pile of leaves? (An optical illusion)

Can you find Vincent Price in this pile of leaves?
(Click to enlarge.)

I was inspired by my post Where's the face in the coffee beans? about the optical illusion called "Sweet Caffeine" by the artist furitsu. How hard is it to make this kind of illusion? (Turns out, not too hard.) And once you see the face, does it disappear again or is it always immediately visible?

Once I finished, I tried inverting the colors to see if that makes it any easier to spot Vincent. For me, it makes him even harder to see.

Then I tried desaturating the image and reducing it to black and white.  I think this makes it easier. Any thoughts?

(The image was created by snagging images of a pile of leaves and Vincent Price from the web and using the free graphics program Gimp to color Vincent's face, cut out his head and various leaves and place them in the image.)

The fake that replaces pig's feet, carpet pads, oranges and dead animals

Veterinarian Fausto Bellezzo practices a suture.

They've also used dead chickens, animal cadavers, and computer simulations, all to simulate the experience of cutting into living flesh.

Researcher and veterinarian Fausto Bellezzo thought the same technology used to create realism in horror films could be used to create a training aid for veterinarians, so he is developing a silicone-layered artificial tissue.

The fake creates realistic skin, blood vessels, connective tissue and animal muscles, and even pumps artificial blood through the cut tissue at the correct rate.

Mr. Bellazo is creating the mock tissue along with Dean Hendrickson, director of Colorado State University's Teaching Hospital. Said Hendrickson:
"Industry standards for training sometimes actually teach incorrect techniques, or skills that don't translate into real-world situations, so students don't have the ability to realistically prepare for surgery before a live patient... These artificial simulations help students master their technique, dexterity and confidence before they operate for the first time on a person or pet."

Buying cold coins? Watch out for gold coin scams

Damn that's pretty. 
Do you want to buy a nice shiny gold coin?

Watch out. There are scammers out there.

First, it's hard to tell which coin dealers are legitimate, because, to be successful, a fraudulent dealer is going to look a lot like an honest dealer. If you're going to invest, do some research on the company first.

Know something about what you're going to buy. If the seller's coin prices seem too high or too low, something's not right.

Be careful to know what a coin is graded. Many people are still surprised that an old mint-in-the-box toy can be worth huge amounts of money compared to the toy that was played with. The coin pictured above is a 2002-W $50 Gold Eagle, worth about $3,000 at a grade of MS-70. But if you can't tell the difference between a grade of MS-70, which means a mint coin that's never been touched, and a grade of MS-60, which is good but not perfect, get an expert to examine the coin. (By the way, the cheaper coin is worth about $1,500, or 50% less than the expensive coin.)

Oh, and if you're going to use an expert, you might want to look for the expert yourself and not use one that the seller recommends.

If a coin is inside a pretty package, take it out of the package, even if it does look pretty in there.

A coin seller might quote things like the "Salomon Index" to show how your coin purchase will appreciate 12% to 25% a year. That index is true, if you were buying the 20 very rare coins on that list. The reality is that most gold coin investments will increase slowly.

My favorite scam: a seller sells you gold coins, but to protect your investment from thieves, stores the gold coins himself, in "escrow." The truth? The gold coins never existed, and now he gets to charge you to hold your imaginary gold.

Finally, don't confuse the price of gold with the price of gold coins. You might see that gold prices are rising blah blah percent a year. But gold coins are worth less than gold because gold coins are not 100% gold, and your gold coins will not increase that much.

5 Sleazy Gold Coin Scams, The Street>>

The gold coin scam, The Christian Science Monitor>>
10 Tips to help you avoid "rare coin" scams, Scambusters>>

Two secret rules of stage magic explained

This parlor trick of a dollar bill breaking a pencil 
uses fundamental rule #2.

Here are some notes on two of the magician Levent’s “Fundamental Rules of Stage Magic.” Levent developed these rules by studying the magic of magician Roy Benson, which he wrote about in his book Roy Benson by Starlight. You can go to Levent's site and read his complete list, but the link where you have to click on the page to find the rules is a secret.

Levent's billiard ball manipulations

Roy Benson's comedy magic

Two of Levent’s Fundamental Rules of Stage Magic

1. When making a steal, the visible movement should have a natural motivation.

In other words, if you want to steal an object, your movements should have motivations, or a logical reason for why you’re moving the way you’re moving.

A steal is when a magician secretly takes an object from a secret location without anyone knowing that he’s taken something. If a magician wants to produce an object from his empty hand, he must first steal the object. But how does he steal it? Children might try to “steal” something by moving their hands very slowly to get the object. But a movement, even if it’s a very small movement, is noticed. What good magicians do is cover the steal by making sure that the movement to steal the object has a motivation, or, in other words, making sure that there’s a reason for the movement. If there’s a coin in my pocket and I want to steal it, I have to go into my pocket to get the coin. If I just reach into my pocket for no reason, my movement is suspicious. But if I reach into my pocket for a pencil, and steal the coin into my hand at the same time, then my movement into my pocket makes sense and the audience thinks: “Oh, he was just getting out his pencil.”

2. The big movement masks the smaller, secret movement.

Big movements hide smaller movements, which means that big movements will hide small, secret movements.

Try this in front of a mirror. Stick out two fingers: your pointing finger and your middle finger. Open and close your fingers like a pair of scissors. Of course you can see your fingers moving like scissors. Now continue making the scissors open and close and move your arm around in a wide circle. The larger movement of your arm hides the smaller movement of your fingers. A magician can have a card “back-palmed” or hidden behind his hand. To retrieve it he has to move his fingers in a certain way. It’s more deceptive if he moves his hand and arm while at the same time retrieving the card behind his fingers.

These rules apply both in the magician’s world and in other deceptive realms as well.

Levent Magic>>

This prankster tattoo is the bomb

Either this guy doesn't fly much or he enjoys cavity 
searches by the TSA.

The first radio hoax was not "The War of the Worlds" by Orson Welles

It was by this guy.
("But he looks like such a mild-mannered priest.")

Most of us have heard of the famous "The War of the Worlds" radio broadcast by Orson Welles, which sounded like a real news report of Martians invading New Jersey.

But it wasn't the first successful radio hoax.

The first fake radio broadcast was 12 years before, created by writer, satirist, and Catholic priest Ronald Knox in 1926.

The real-sounding radio program - with regular programs interrupted by special bulletins - broadcast news of a London riot, with Big Ben blown up by mortars, the famous hotel the Savoy burnt down, and a politician lynched on a lamppost.

Radio listeners, already spooked by fears of labor unrest and Communism (the Russian revolution was less than ten years old) disregarded warnings that it was a spoof.

Of course, some panicked.

It didn't help that the BBC only had one radio station.

And reality helped even more, because the next day heavy snow in London delayed or stopped delivery of Sunday's newspapers, which helped make the hoax seem much more real.
“We had hundreds of serious telephone enquiries from all parts of the country,” the Savoy Hotel's manager told reporters next day... People wanted to know whether it would be necessary to cancel their rooms. Some made anxious enquiries as to the safety of friends staying at the hotel.” 
This radio deception was effective because it capitalized on the British public's fear of strife from within.

And years later, Welles' 1938 "The War of the Worlds" broadcast would exploit American's fear of trouble coming from the outside.

The pimple or dimple optical illusion

 These dots are pimples that stick out.

 These dots are dimples that are pushed in.

Here the dimples and pimples are mixed together.

Why do we see the first picture as pimples and the second as dimples? Why are some dots perceived as going in and others as going out? In our world, most of the light we see comes from above us - either as the sun above or indoor lighting overhead, so we perceive most pictures as having a light source that comes from above as well. That's why a dot with a light area around the top of the circle and a dark area at the bottom of the circle is read as a pimple.
If you can imagine it, move an imaginary light source from the top to the bottom of the picture, and the dots will shift ftom pimples to dimples.

"Most... can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth..."

"Elephant? What's an elephant?"
"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives."
- Leo Tolstoy

Porn movie projected on building as college prank

This is how 98% of college pranks begin.

At Bournemouth University, Dorset, England:
"We were watching a non porn film and thought: 'I wonder if we could get it on the other building?' "It wasn't until we realised we could do it that the idea to play porn came up."

A spokesman for UNITE, which runs Purbeck House Halls, said: "They're students - if they're going to be immature what can you do?
Students in Porn Movie Prank, The Sun>>

Harvey Kneeslapper pulls a hand buzzer prank on vintage Sesame Street TV show

A modern hand buzzer practical joke gag device - 
still cheap and effective

The hand shocker (or joy buzzer) was invented by classic 
prankster company S. S. Addams in the 1930s 
and has changed very little.

Muppet Harvey Kneeslapper pulls his prank.

Three kinds of deception from This American Life

Three acts on deception from the radio show This American Life, featuring Alex Blumberg, Nick Hornby, and David Sedaris.
Host Ira Glass reads an excerpt from Nick Hornby's novel About a Boy. The narrator, Will, recalls a time when he was a child that he convinced a friend that a portal to another world existed at the back of his closet. Will knew that the portal didn't exist, but continued the lie for some reason, even as he and his friend crawled through the winter coats by the closet baseboards looking for a hidden gateway. He just kept hoping that maybe they'd find something. (4 minutes)

Act One. Self-deception.
Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of an ex-con-turned-actor named Richie Castellano. After a bit role in the movie Analyze This, he moved to a small town and got dozens of people to invest money and time in a movie that never premiered. Why so many people bought into his grandiose dreams, and what they learned about him—and themselves—after they got burned for it. (22 minutes)

Act Two. Deceiving Others.
Lawrence Otis Graham reads from an account of how he left his job as a $105,000-a-year Manhattan attorney to enter the exclusive Greenwich Country Club the only way they'd allow a black man like him: as a busboy. He discovers just how invisible he can become once he gives up his seat at the table and starts clearing the dishes instead—so invisible that people make racist remarks right in front of him. The passage is from his book A Member of the Club: Reflections on Life in a Racially Polarized World. (16 minutes)

Act Three. Accidental Deception.
David Sedaris tells the story of a subway ride he took in Paris. Two American tourists mistake him for a Frenchman and, thinking he can't speak English, begin to talk loudly about how he smells. Later, they come to believe that he's a pickpocket. He starts off hating this, but comes to enjoy it. The story's from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. (12 minutes)
Three Kinds of Deception, This American Life>>

How to cheat at school

The cheating thumb cheat sheet works 
if you have excellent eyesight.

To alert teachers to many possible cheating scams, Dr. Robert S. Bramucci went to cheater websites and compiled a list of how to cheat. Here are some examples:

Get a copy of the test or the answers in advance of the test. You can break into where the test is held, or bribe someone who has access to the test.

During the test, copy the answers from a fellow student. If you're really clever, you can hold a small mirror and adjust it to view a neighbor's test. Or just find a fellow student - preferably smarter - to collude with, and have them get the answers to you during the test, either with a secret note, or by communicating in code.

Make yourself a crib sheet or a cheat sheet with any information you'll need for the test. Find an ingenious way to hide it - write it on your desk beforehand, or on a drink bottle, gum or food you're allowed to have on your desk. Or write the information on part of your body or your clothing. If you aren't allowed to have anything on your desk except a pencil or pen, you can write notes on whatever you're writing with.

A very sneaky method is to prepare the room in advance by writing notes somewhere unnoticed inside the room.

An old favorite used by many students is to write inside the examination book or blue book you have to bring to the exam.

You can pay someone else to take the test for you as a "ringer."

Or you can not turn in the exam and claim the professor lost it.

Of course, there are many methods using technology, such as cell phones, which is why they are banned during most tests. But there's always a wireless earpiece and a friend with access to the answers.

To see more, head over to this list at Cheatopolis, no, I'm sorry, Teachopolis>>

"A myth is an old lie that people believe in."

Ernest Gaines

A young black teacher in 1940s Louisiana counsels Jefferson, an innocent young black man sentenced to die:
"Do you know what a myth is, Jefferson? A myth is an old lie that people believe in. White people believe that they're better than anyone else on earth - and that's a myth. The last thing they ever want is to see a black man stand, and think, and show that common humanity that is in us all. It would destroy their myth. They would no longer have justification for having made us slaves and keeping us in the condition we are in."
From A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines.

Author Ernest Gaines comes home to where his ancestors were enslaved, CNN>>

How to create a "fake" fake identity

Faris Zafir Kattan is a fake. He does not exist.

Do you need a fake identity?

Go to the fake name generator website and with a few clicks you can create a fraudulent person.

As they say:
The most advanced name generator. With 26 languages and 19 countries, the Fake Name Generator is the most advanced name generator on the internet. Generate names, addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers, occupations, UPS tracking numbers, and more absolutely free.
It's generated controversy, too:
I have learned of an online tool that benefits the identity thieves. Yet our nation's law enforcement don't seem to be doing anything about it. Since 9/11, we think that security is tighter, and that online tools as this, would be shut down quickly. Since I have spoken out on consumer advocacy issues before, I can't continue to be quite about this website any longer.
(From the Topeka Capital Journal blog of Kevin Surbaugh>>)

Here's the fake name and information I generated:

Faris Zafir Katta
2455 University Drive
Burr Ridge, IL 61257

Email Address:
Password:              zohl5fa0Iemai
Mother's Maiden name:  Hadad
Birthday: June 8, 1979 (31 years old)
Visa:                  4556 4323 8333 5382
Expires:               8/2010
SSN:                   344-64-6191
Occupation:            Petroleum technician
UPS Tracking Number:   1Z 022 375 11 7215 566 7
Blood type:            O+
Weight:                225.3 pounds (102.4 kilograms)
Height:                5' 6" (168 centimeters)

To complete my fake person, I found three photos on the Internet (a singer, a doctor, and a crook) and combined them, using the head of one, the eyes of another, and the neckline of a third. Then I used an online site that generates fake magazine covers (On Coverpage) to make the Business Today cover photo of Mr. Katta above, which gives my fake person a face.

Of course, for purist identity thieves, none of the information the website generates can be used for anything other than looking realistic at first glance. It might take a bit more work to create an identity that can stand up to any kind of scrutiny, such as actually using the information for fraud.

Fake Name Generator>>