Category Archives: WTF

More adventures in spam

About a week ago, I received an email in my spam folder that had the subject line “rscrawford: XXXXXXXXXXXX” where that long line of Xs was the deprecated password of a website I rarely visit and which I knew had been compromised at one point. The email was wordy and poorly written, but the gist of it was something along the lines of, “I know what you did and I recorded it and I’ll send it out to every person in your contacts list unless you pay me $7,000 in BitCoin currency,” along with a link were I could send that currency.

This amused me, since, really, I have nothing to hide. I thought about writing back with a message to that effect — “Go on, do your worst!” — but I know it’s never a good idea to engage with these kinds of people. I mean, I know President Trump is doing his best to end unfair and unjust discrimination against the idiotic criminal class, but, still.

Meanwhile, I’ve had bronchitis for something like two weeks now. The breathing is better now, though the cough remains. The Prednisone remains fun stuff to take. When I get sick for this long, I tend to get emotional. Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Lisa runs away and Homer holds her saxophone? Yeah, that one did me in.

And yesterday while working I had Young Frankenstein playing in the background. And when it came to the scene where the creature, having just performed “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, panicked at the sight of a flame and was dragged away by the police… Yeah, I started crying at that as well.

A co-worker of mine tells me that their reaction to Prednisone is exactly the opposite of mine: for them, the drug causes euphoria, energy, and hyperactivity. This is unfair. I’m going to file a complaint somewhere.

We’re still fostering kittens. After Delilah and Fern were adopted, the fostering agency sent us eight (8) to foster. That was about a month ago, I guess, and now we’re down to one. Mouse is a feisty orange and white kitten, lots of love and lots of energy and personality. I was sure she’d be adopted her first week at placement, but that didn’t happen.

The writing is continuing. I’ve finished the Evil Barf Draft of my fantasy story involving fossil hunters in America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century. I am going to be pushing it to get The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster and Padma done by their due dates, but that’s okay. Last minute panic is a great motivator.

I’m also drafting a contemporary (well, set in the 1930s) fantasy involving jazz music and baseball, and I’m in the early stages of putting together a “noblebright” (as opposed to “grimdark”) fantasy story for an anthology that I’d love to be published in. All that, on top of my goal of keeping six active submissions going all at the same time, is keeping me mighty busy. Good for me.

What’s on your plate or your mind?



I’m not sure why this is happening to me, but by my estimate I’ve now received five spam emails over the course of a year advertising “quick and easy” sex changes. This is not something I’ve pondered. This is not something I’ve ever hunted for online. I’ve never inquired into the possibility with my physician, nor mentioned in passing to any of my friends. I doubt I’ve ever clicked on an ad that would send me these messages.

I’m starting to become curious in spite of myself…

Writing continues, though I’ve fallen pretty far behind in both Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster and “Sauromancy”, my two current projects. I had a good conversation with my friend Michael recently who helped me gain some much-needed perspective on my career as a writer, and who has been encouraging me to have at least two novels (or at least their outlines) ready by WorldCon in August. STSM (or at least a first draft thereof) will definitely be done by then and I’ll have a solid outline of Padma by then as well.

Have I mentioned that Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster is basically a rewrite of my 2005 NaNoWriMo novel, Fred Again? Because it is.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, two weeks ago I officially submitted the form to not be a Municipal Liaison for our region this year. I started MLing in 2007, which means I’ve got eleven years of it under my belt. I still haven’t decided whether I’m even going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I like the camaraderie and company that I get during November, but I also feel like I’ve gotten all I’m going to get from it, after having participated for sixteen (!) years.

This seems like a good place to mention that I’ve moved things around and added a couple of pieces to my Writing site (linked to above).

Weight Loss is coming along, slower than I would like, but it’s happening. I’ve set up some non-food rewards for myself for every ten pounds that I lose. The rewards are mostly DVDs of the classic Universal horror monster movies; last week I purchased The Creature from the Black Lagoon, because I loved that movie when I was a kid and because I have a story idea that involves the Creature.

I also bought a FitBit Alta, one of the models that fits around your wrist, because my Zip, the one that slips into your pocket, cracked and stopped working and new ones are on back order, shipping within two to three weeks. Which is a lot for someone like me, who grew up in the 80s and its instant gratification culture.

am eating healthier foods, at least. And I’ve got some special tasks in Habitica to help me keep on track.

So that’s what I’ve got going on in my life right now. What about you?

Expand the Boycott!

Apparently McDonald’s is under boycott for “supporting the gay agenda” by having representatives on the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. I support the right of people to boycott McDonald’s for this reason if they so choose, but, as usual, the forces behind the boycott are being hypocrites and inconsistent. Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars has compiled a helpful list of companies and corporations that also “support the gay agenda” by having representatives on the NGLCC, or by offering domestic partnership benefits, or any other similar outrages.

These organizations, represented by their logos, are the ones who are actually founding members of the NGLCC (click on the thumbnail for the entire spread):

And these corporations are the lesser offenders, who simply have members on the NGLCC or support the “gay agenda” in other ways:

Again, click on the thumbnail for the full effect. And, of course, neither list is even close to being exhaustive.

As you can see, if you’re going to be consistent and really care about boycotting organizations that support the gay agenda, you have to go all out. It’s like obeying the Ten Commandments; you can’t just obey the ones you find convenient, you have to obey them all or there won’t be any point to any of them.

The best part of encouraging these folks to expand their boycott? Once they decide to be legitimate and consistent, then they’ll no longer be able to use the Internet, since Cisco routers pretty much dominate, and they won’t be able to use any computer with an Intel chip to do so anyway.

I am a Bad Person

While my heart aches for the loved ones of the poor fellow who lost his life in a seemingly random and undeniably brutal attack, my first thought upon reading this article was, “There can be only one”. Though you’d think the immortals would be more subtle than to behead each other on a Greyhound bus.

(Of course, I mentioned this in another forum the other day, and got a number of virtual stares. “What? What does that mean?” These were people who should have known better. It’s better than when in the early 90’s, before Star Wars had its revival, I said to some kid, “May the Force be with you,” and he said, “What?” I’m too young to be this old.)

Fearmongering For Your Kids

Via BoingBoing, I found this: 

Ballistic Backpack
Ballistic Bookbag.  Just in case your kids aren’t terrified enough about returning to school, you can now buy them a backpack that can help prepare them for shooting incidents.  According to the website, "[A ballistic panel] is integrated into the high quality and stylish backpack in production. A ballistic panel is similar to the traditional bullet resistant vest worn by military and police weighing a minimum of ten pounds."  The panel weighs about 20 oz, just over a pound.  These things cost about US$175.00.

My boss and I were chatting about this, and we agreed that sure, there are schools where this sort of accessory could be important, such as areas of the inner cities where rates of crime and violence are high and weapons checks are a necessity.  It seemed to us, though, that the kids who would be going to these schools wouldn’t be able to shell out the $175 for this extra protection.  My guess is that the Ballistic Bookbag is being targeted to higher income parents who are easily duped into believing that the odds of a shooting incident happening at their kids’ school is rising at the rate of about 1,000 percent per incident nationwide.  This, despite FBI studies suggesting that the number of violent incidents happening in American schools has actually gone down over the past fifty years (though media coverage has certainly gone up, as has the deadliness of the weapons involved).

I’ve never care for this sort of fearmongering.  It can turn a profit every now and then, and it’s been a time-honored tool of capitalists since Hypocriticles sold Volcano Preparedness Kits to every Roman household after the "incident" at Pompeii in AD 79.  But it bugs me, because it plays on peoples’ gullibility and actually discourages good preparation and knowledge.  Like that commercial from the Department of Homeland Security’s "Be Ready" campaign that shows a montage of children questioning what they should do if something bad happens, and a voiceover that says, "It’s always good to have a plan in case of a terrorist attack!".  I think it would be good to have something in case of a far more likely disaster: like, it’s good to have a plan in case an airplane drops on your house, or you’re struck by lightning three times in a day and then get run over by a pack of donkeys.  Family emergency plans are good to have, and I’m glad that the DHS is running ads that also educate about hurricane and earthquake preparedness, but terrorist attacks?  Fearmongering.  Fearmongering which leads to horrific decisions, and panicked support of terrible policy decisions.

Me, I think this is much more sensible:

Think about it.

Today's Very Strange Story

Forest of Death in FloridaEight unidentified skeletons found in Florida forest.

Basically, police received a call that a human skull had been found in a forest in Florida.  Upon investigation, detectives found the skeletons of eight white men between the ages of 18 and 49.  All of them appeared, based on the remains, to be in good health, even to the point of having good teeth.  All of them seem to date back to about 2000.

This is, of course, the sort of thing that makes my imagination spin in dizzy circles; Jennifer and I have come up with some neat theories.

What’s your theory?  Who were these people, how did they die, and why are they in a Florida forest?

The Latest Apocalypse

Mayan CalendarWatching a History Channel show about the Mayan prophecies about the end of the world, which apparently will happen in 2012.  On December 21, to be exact.  This will be the greatest and most horrific global apocalypse since the world ended on 5/5/05, 5/11/01, and 1/1/2000, and will certainly surpass the global catastrophe that destroyed civilization in 1843.  And that’s not even counting the Jupiter Effect of the 80’s, or the Harmonic Convergence.  And by my count, California sank into the sea at least three times in the late 1970’s.

But the biggest question I have about the Mayan prophecies that they’re recounting on this special as "confirmed" (for sufficiently loose definitions of the term "confirmed") is, why on Earth would ancient Mayan prophecies relate primarily to American political events?  Seriously.  Each one of the prophecies this special recounts relate to American events, such as the Civil War, or the assassination of JFK.  Why?  Here’s one such prophecy:

There is trouble in the land once again. This Katun ((A Katun, for what it’s worth, is a 20-year period of time within the Mayan cyclical calendar)) brings drought, famine, and is a time of foreign occupation, change, and sadness.

Now, if you’re going to move the goalposts to the point where these prophecies apply to a nation and culture that wasn’t even conceived of when it was written, then why not move them even further to the entire world?  But then you have to admit that such conditions are endemic the world over at all times; there has not been a time in human history when some culture was not facing drought, famine, invasion, and so on.  It’s just cold readings — the Barnum effect — applied to prophecy.

And the main thing that always bugs me about this sort of thing: if this civilization’s prophecies were so accurate, then how could they have been scooped by the European invaders?  Seriously.  It’s like the Psychic Friends Network going broke and declaring bankruptcy.  You’d think that they’d have foreseen that.  Or at least something like, "Hm, I can’t foresee us doing any predictions after this particular date; I wonder why that is?"

I just wonder sometimes how barking mad you have to be to seriously believe in this sort of thing.  Do such believers continually tell themselves, "Well, so-and-so was wrong about the world ending at Y2K, and 5/11/2001 passed without a blip, but surely these Mayan prophecies will justify my purchase of a bomb shelter and year’s worth of canned goods!"

Seriously.  If there weren’t figures in the upper echelons of our government who believed in the similarly ridiculous Dominionist idea of the Rapture — the right-wing Christian version of this same sort of doomsaying — I’d just find this tendency laughable.

Amazing! Einstein's theory raises possibility of Humans from other universes de-stabilizing

Evil Einstein!Einstein’s theory raises possibility of Humans from other universes de-stabilizing Earth into violence.

Seriously, though, this is probably one of the most amazing examples of an expert’s name being abused to support some crank’s pet theory that I’ve ever seen.  As far as I know, Einstein said very little, if anything, about the probability of "other dimensions" or alternate universes; the idea hasn’t been taken very seriously in science for very long, and is mostly a theoretical framework for understanding certain elements of quantum theory than a notion that physicists will seriously follow up on.  Einstein did not dabble in quantum theory.

And the idea of "mirror universes" with evil twins of ourselves who want to wreak havoc in our dimension is pure science fiction.  I mean come on; can you even for a moment conceive of the notion of a universe where Bush is a competent president?  Someone decided to write up a wacky theory about why things are so screwy here on Earth, and borrowed Einstein’s name to add a ring of authenticity to it.