Friday, April 29, 2011

Spam of the Week

Today's spam is supposedly from Nokia, and unlike the other scams, claims that I have won a large sum of money in a contest I never entered (and likely does not exist).

Subject: Congratulations!

Suite 210, Coborn House, 3 Coborn Road,
Docklands, London,E3 2DA, UK
United Kingdom
Ref: BTD/968/09
Batch: 409978E.

Nokia 2010 winning Bonanza!!!"
Wow, three exclamation marks and a quotation mark. Very...professional? Also, what exactly is a "winning Bonanza"?


Dear Winner,

We wish to inform you that your email address has emerged as one of the lucky winners in this year Nokia Promotion Award Team, and you have therefore won for yourself a total cash sum of £500,000.00 GBP (Five hundred thousand Great Britain Pounds) in this category (Batch:409978E).
Sweet! Five hundred thousand pounds? That would be, what, a million dollars? I wonder what else I could win for myself. I hate winning stuff for other people. Of course, I do not live in Britain, so even if I had entered this contest I doubt I would be eligible.
Typo: "year" instead of "year's"

All email addresses entered for this promotional draws were randomly inputted from an internet resource database using the Synchronized Random Selection System (SRSS).
I wonder if my email address was "randomly inputted" into any other databases. I hope not. Is "inputted" a word? I thought it was "input" for past and present tense. Oh well.
Error: "this promotional draws" instead of "this...draw" or "these...draws."

To process your winning/claim your won funds, send the following informations to

Name:Mr.Lester Gold
Tel:+44 704 5747 360
Nokia Promotion Award Team
Head Winning Claims Dept
Ha! Not likely. Maybe I should forward some unique business opportunities to that email address, though. I wonder what would happen...

1. Your Full Names: Full names? Tom Jackman. And Mr. Hyde.
2. Address: 123 Sesame Street (What can I say...I'm old-school)
3. Country:: Anvilania
4. Age: Older than I look
5. Telephone/Fax Number: What would they do with a fax number? Send the bills through the machine?
6. Occupation: What does this have to do with claiming my money?
7. Gender: See above. Creeps.

Congratulations to you from the management and staff of Nokia Promotion
Award Team.
Wow, the management AND staff are congratulating me! Did they throw me a party? Was there cake? WHY DIDN'T I GET A SLICE??

Yours Faithfully,

Mrs.Ross Webb
Head Customer Care Service
Nokia Promotion Award Team.
Copyright © 1976-2010

Mine faithfully AND sincerely. What an honor. Also, I love how they assume people will think it is legitimate because they stuck a Copyright symbol in there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who Review: The Impossible Astronaut


Seriously, if you watch Doctor Who, watch the episode before you read this. You have been warned.

Jason and I finally got a chance to watch the first episode of season 6 yesterday. I wrote in my last post how excited I was to finally watch it at the same time as everyone else, instead of waiting for the DVD. I was reminded of the disadvantage of that: WE WANT THE NEXT EPISODE NOW! Darn you, Steven Moffat.

I am just going to get my predictions out of the way right now. First, River was the astronaut in the lake. Second, the Doctor had this all planned out. That is why he told them very strongly not to interfere. Third, the kid that Amy shot did not die, because this is a family show and we cannot have characters shooting children to death. Fourth, we are not going to find out what the hell was going on with Future!Doctor getting shot until the end of this season at the earliest. And one more for good measure: Amy's baby is evil. We shall see how accurate those predictions are as the series continues.

I really like the new aliens. Jason recognized their creation from last season's episode The Lodger, where the mysterious forces were trying to build a TARDIS. I think the idea of a monster that you forget as soon as you stop looking at it is brilliant. How would you fight it? How would you warn anyone else about it? I just hope it shows up in that photograph on Amy's phone. Apparently their name is The Silence or The Silent. Very cool.

I love that the episode was set in America. They actually filmed most of it in Utah. I do think they are trying to draw in more of an American audience now, which is excellent. It is interesting to see how a British show portrays Americans. Especially when they first show up in the Oval Office and are met with all those guns.

Interesting bit of trivia: British actor Mark Sheppard is in a British show with an American accent. He is also a recurring character in several American shows (including Leverage) with a British accent.

I WANT THE NEXT EPISODE NOW! Oh, right, I said that already.

Question for the comments: Which is cooler, a fez or a Stetson?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doctor Who News: Goodbye and Hello

First, I was very sad to learn that actress Elisabeth Sladen passed away earlier this week. Doctor Who fans remember her as Sarah Jane Smith, who was a long-time companion of the Third and Fourth Doctors. Her character was so popular that she was brought back in her own spin-off, some 30 years after first appearing on the show. Sarah Jane also re-appeared several times on the new Who during David Tennant's run. Elisabeth was 63. She will be missed.

Also this week: the season 6 premiere of Doctor Who was last night on BBC and BBC America. We do not have cable, so I am currently downloading it from iTunes onto my computer. I think TV show downloads are one of the best things about the Internet. In all honesty, I do not watch much TV because there is very little worth watching. For that reason, we do not have cable. When there is a show on cable that I actually want to watch, I can download it the next day. Sure, iTunes charges two bucks per episode, but that comes out to $8 a month. Comcast is $30 a month. AT&T U-Verse "starts at" $19 a month. Both of them come with hidden fees and upcharges and promotional rates that end after 6 months or a year. And who knows how much they charge once the "promotional period" ends. Much better to pay for exactly what I want.

This will actually be the first time I get to watch Doctor Who at the same time as everyone else. I did not start watching until after David Tennant finished his run as the Doctor, and by the time I got all caught up with seasons 2-4, Matt Smith had finished season 5. Thank goodness our library bought all of the DVDs! Ten is still my favorite Doctor, but Matt Smith is quite good. I also really like the look and feel of s5. It has kind of a retro vibe. I think Steven Moffat (Evil Genius) does quite a good job as showrunner. Why is Steven Moffat an evil genius? Because he writes stuff that scares the crap out of people, but it all works out in the end. I am really looking forward to more adventures with the Doctor, Amy, and Rory. And River Song. Apparently this season we will finally find out who she is. Because the Doctor is a time traveler, he meets River in his future, but she has already met him in her past. If that makes your head hurt, just remember: Time is like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff.

Coming soon: Thoughts on Doctor Who, season 6!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spam of the Week

We continue our Spam of the Week feature with this gem from "Miss. Julia Tammy." What makes this one interesting is that she appears to be offering herself as a sort of mail-order bride along with promising money. Did I say "interesting"? I meant "disturbing." Oh, and just to make these more interesting to read, I will write comments after each paragraph.

Subject: Thanks and remain blessed, Please reply

Text: Thanks and remain blessed.
From Miss. Julia Tammy
14 bp cocody rue
05 koumassi
Abidjan / Cote D'Ivoire

Dearest friend,

Compliment of the day, I am so glad to write this letter to you. Having obtained your contact from the internet and after reading your profiles that you deserve trust, coupled with my deep interest to invest in your country, I decided to contact you for mutual assistance at all cost.
Compliment of the day! I think they make Page-A-Day calendars for that. It is so good to know that I "deserve trust," although I am worried that this "mutual assistance" comes "at all cost."

I am Miss Julia Tammy the only daughter of Mr and Mrs George Tammy from Ivory-Coast. My father was a highly reputable cocoa merchant who operated in the capital of Ivory coast before his untimely death. It is sad to say that my father was sick mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad in the year 12th.February 2008. Though his sudden sickness was rather suspected to be poison and has been masterminded by an uncle of his who traveled with him at that time. But God knows the truth!
I was not aware that Ivory-Coast was the name of a country. I wonder how long ago "the year 12th.February" is. Hmm...she suspects that her father was poisoned by his uncle. Was the poison poured into his ear, I wonder? God knows the truth! Like: was this idea stolen from Hamlet, or The Lion King?

When my mother died on the 21st October 2006, My father took me so special because I am motherless. Before the death of my father on 6th April 2008 in a private hospital here in Abidjan . He secretly called me on his bedside and told me that he has a sum of $3.500.000 (three million, five hundred thousand dollars) deposited in one of the bank here in Abidjan, that he used my name as the only daughter for his next of kin in deposited of the funds.
Man, nothing tugs at the heartstrings like hearing someone "took me so special." Wait, did her father die in February or April? -Rereads- All right, it sounds like he was poisoned in February but did not die until April. That is one slow-acting poison. Unless the uncle kept poisoning him? He must have bribed the doctors. He named his next of kin "in deposited of the funds"? It sounds like this letter was run through the Babel Fish translator.

He also explained to me that it was because of this money that he was poisoned. He also told me that I should seek for a God fearing foreign partner in a country of my choice where I will transfer this money for investment purposes.
Geez, he was poisoned over three and a half million dollars? For a spam scam, that is not much of a fortune. So his dying wish to his daughter was that she should find a business partner in another country. Nice guy. I wonder why so many of these scams specify that they are looking for "God fearing" people to help them with shady business dealings. Do they think it makes them sound more respectable?

I am just 22 years old and a university undergraduate and really don't know what to do. Please, I want an account where I can transfer this funds and after the transaction i will come and live with you as a partner and I'm ready to do anything of your choice. I am all alone right now.
I have actually been collecting these e-mails for a while. When I received this one, I too was a "22 years old university undergraduate." Sorry, I know as little about foreign investment as you do. And here we go: "i will come and live with you as a partner." That is troubling by itself. "I'm ready to do anything of your choice." NO! WRONG! WRONG! You do not promise "anything of your choice" to random strangers on the Internet!

The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life and i wished to invested under your care with your advise. Please, I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards.Your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded.
Well, it is good to know that your father's death "actually brought sorrow." This establishes that you are not a sociopath incapable of emotion. You want suggestions and ideas? Here we go: STOP SOLICITING RANDOM STRANGERS FOR ADVICE AND OFFERING TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT!

Please,Consider this and get back to me as soon as possible. Immediately I confirmed your willingness then i will send to you my picture and i will need your own picture as well.
I wonder if this started out as a sex scam and then became a money scam in addition. Especially because pictures are more important than contact information.

Thanks and remain blessed.
Your's Sincerely,
Miss Julia George Tammy

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quote of the Day

Today's quote is from Neil Gaiman's blog. He was at a convention in San Francisco this past weekend for a Doctor Who panel, because he wrote one of the episodes. Neil was asked how he would explain Doctor Who to someone who was worried about not being able to follow a show with 47 years of back story. His response: “No, look, there’s a blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up, there’s a bloke in it called The Doctor and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed cos he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up, and watch ‘Blink’.”

Neil Gaiman is awesome.

Now sit down, shut up, and watch the Season 6 trailer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Recap: BSC #32 (part four)

Missed parts one through three? Start here.

Chapter 10: The girls are at school (for once) and Kristy is dismayed to hear that there will be a school assembly. Kristy thinks, "Thank goodness we don't have to sit with our classes during assemblies." Really? Wow, I wish I had gone to their school! This policy actually makes no sense; allowing students to sit wherever they wanted would lead to more confusion while people find their seats and more distractions during the assembly. I mean, the students all want to sit and talk to their friends, but teachers and administrators are actively trying to avoid that. And they are the ones making the rules. We also find out that the students ARE segregated by grade at lunch. Go figure. Maybe the real-world schools are better after all.

Anyway, the assembly seating policy is an excuse to have the BSC members all sit together. Coincidentally, they end up right behind the special ed class, which consists of a grand total of ten students. Their various problems are all briefly explained. Three kids have Down's Syndrome, which is explained thusly: "Down's syndrome people have sort of slanted eyes and flattish faces, and are usually docile, affectionate, and friendly." Find me a thirteen-year-old who can define "docile." Interestingly, Down's syndrome is discussed more in-depth in a later book, when Dawn is hired to sit for a girl with Down's. The complication there is that the girl is only a year or two younger than she is, and does not know that Dawn is being paid to spend time with her.

There is also a boy whose unidentified problem sounds a lot like ADHD. Did that really qualify you for special ed twenty years ago? Yikes. Kristy wonders how the teachers are able to teach these kids in the same classroom, with all of their various issues and different learning methods. It is obvious here that Martin has great respect for special ed teachers. And she probably knew what she was talking about (as much as was known) when describing autism. At the end of the book, there is an author note where she talks about basing Susan on real-life kids with autism she worked with while she was in college.

Kristy notices that one of the boys in the special ed class is similar to Susan in many ways: clapping for no reason, waving his hand in front of his eyes, and staring off into space. However, he is more advanced than Susan; he talks to himself, and at one point even talks with a teacher. Kristy figures that if this boy could learn to carry on a conversation, Susan can too.

Her thoughts are interrupted when some kids across the aisle start teasing the kids in the special ed class and throw spitballs. See, administrators? This is why seventh graders should not be able to sit with their friends during assemblies. Kristy realizes that this is a drawback to sending a handicapped child to a public school.

Today, things are different. The goal of special education is to place kids with challenges in what is known as the "least restrictive environment." This is basically "as close to 'normal' as possible, while still giving them needed support." The boys with ADHD and autism would probably be in regular classes, though one or both of them may need an assistant. There is a push to integrate kids with special needs as much as possible into the mainstream environment, probably to stop exactly this sort of teasing from happening.

After the assembly is over, Kristy goes to talk to the special ed teachers. They confirm that the boy who reminds her of Susan is autistic, and invite her to come to their classroom during a study hall to see how they run things. Kristy agrees, but sadly, this is never mentioned again. The chapter ends on a positive note as we find out that Ben Hobart is no longer being ridiculed because his family is from Australia.

Chapter 11: Kristy is at the Felders' house again. No sooner does Mrs. Felder leave than the other half of Bob-or-Craig comes to the door. We find out that his name is actually Zach, and he wants to hear Susan's calendar trick again. He stays for about five minutes and then rushes out. As soon as Zach leaves, a girl named Kathie comes to the door with dates for Susan to tell her. As soon as she leaves, another child comes. Kristy is excited that three children have come to see Susan all in the same day! This girl, named Gina, has a song request for Susan: "Sheik of Araby" from the Roaring Twenties. Kristy thinks, "Whatever the Roaring Twenties are." Really, Kristy? Not even a guess? Anyway, Susan has never heard the song before, so Kristy has to play the (vinyl) record that Gina brought. On a turntable. Near the end of the song, the record starts skipping. Some would argue that this dates the book far more than any outdated "facts" about autism.

Susan is able to not only play the song, she comes in singing right on cue. To Kristy's dismay (and Gina's amusement), she even plays the skips at the end. For Kristy, this means that the words really do not mean anything to Susan. To Gina, this means that she really got her money's worth.

Yes, the reason that so many children have been coming to see Susan is because Mel is charging money like she is a sideshow attraction. He is even advertising her as "the incredible retard who can memorize dates and music. The amazing dumbo who can sing but not talk." This is probably the strongest language the book could get away with, and it sounds like an oddly unrealistic insult. I am not sure exactly why; it just does not strike me as something real kids would say. Maybe I am expecting something more creative.

Kristy yells at the kids and tells them she never wants to hear them say "retard" or "dumbo" again (all right, so I guess "retard" was an insult back then). Then she says that Mel owes at least half of his money to Susan. Mel ignores this and runs away, and that is the end of that. The whole situation is never mentioned again. If what these kids are doing is so awful, why are there no consequences? Even for the sake of poetic justice. Kristy mentally kicks herself for being so naive. Obviously nobody wants to be friends with Susan. The message that this book seems to be sending is that kids with autism do not make good friends. Kristy realizes that she could use a friend herself right now, so she and Susan go to hang out with Claudia, who is babysitting the Hobarts.

Chapter 12: Claudia is sitting the Hobart boys for the first time. The youngest has become very wary of strangers since the strange American kids started teasing him for being from Australia. His mother bribes him with the promise of the "telly" and "lollies" if he will let her leave. Perhaps not the ideal strategy, but I am sure every parent has used it at some point. Points for realism!

The boys opt against watching the telly, partly because it is really boring to read descriptions of people watching TV and partly because this will move the story along. Oh, and also because it is a nice day outside. The older boys are swinging on their tire swing when Zach comes into the yard and begins teasing them. He calls them babies, which James protests because he is in "advanced maths" at school. Silly Australians, there is no "s" in "math"! Where did it come from? They probably stole it from the end of "Legos."

Of course, people in Britain and Australia wonder why Americans do not say "Lego" and "maths."

James decides that the best way to prove himself to Zach is to punch a wooden crate in with a boxing glove. Is this a "guy thing" or an "author makes no sense thing"? Zach is impressed and a bit intimidated. Five minutes later, James is loaning Zach his brother's skateboard so they can go skateboarding together. Personally, I would be a bit hesitant before deciding that a kid who had mercilessly teased me was my new best friend. Even if I could break his face. Actually, I would be hesitant about deciding a kid who could break my face was my new best friend. Especially if I had teased him mercilessly. Then again, maybe this is how boys bond.

Kristy shows up with Susan. James decides to go skateboarding instead of hanging around with Susan, and Kristy fills Claudia in on Susan's short-term career as unwitting sideshow performer. Here we have Kristy's conclusion about Susan: "I really don't think she hears us. I don't think she knows who we are. I don't think she even knows where she is. Worse, I don't think any of that matters to her." In other words: Susan is an outcast, and there is nothing anyone can do to fix it. You see why I pegged this book as one of the more depressing ones? Kristy and Claudia conclude that Susan's parents are right after all: she really does not belong at home with them.

But at least James Hobart and the neighborhood bully are friends now.

Coming soon: Part Five (In Which The "Feel-Good" Ending Is Even More Depressing Than The Rest of the Book).