Conversations with a Dumbass: Water Powered Car edition.

Got the following email last night for no apparent reason:

From:
Subject: water powered car

I just have to say something here and you will most likely call it bullshit, but I know what I am saying is true. Back in 1979 a young man came to my door trying to get me to buy his plans for a carburetor that would guarantee me 400 miles to the gallon. He was going house to house in order to get enough orders to have the money to get his idea patented. I was 19 at the time and he was about 22, if I remember correctly.

I was newly married and my new husband was an abuser – he was great until our wedding day – so I was too afraid to go ahead and buy his plans. But I did get his phone number b/c I was already thinking about getting divorced and thought I would buy them after I got divorced.

Several people in our neighborhood bought his plans and a couple of them actually followed through and it really did work. But that’s not why I’m writing to you. As I said, I kept the guys number and called him about a month later to get more info. His mom answered and was very distraught. She said he had been contacted by some men who represented “a big oil company” a few days after he had applied to get his idea patented. They showed up at their house and offered the young man 5 million dollars to sell his idea. He told them he’d have to think about it and spoke to his dad about it that night. His dad told him if they were offering that much that meant the boy could get much more if he just toughed it out and got the patent himself.

That’s when he started going door to door and his dad was also trying to get a loan for him. About a week after he had been at my house he went missing. He just flat out disappeared. And interestingly, those people never tried to contact him again as far as his parents knew. He was never found.

I experienced this myself so I know it is not a made up story. I believe the oil company had the boy killed b/c he was going to cost them a lot of money if his idea ever went anywhere. The two guys in our neighborhood never let anyone else know that they had his plans b/c they were too afraid after hearing the kid went missing.

There are a great many wonderful ideas that could have benefited the entire world that never became a reality b/c someone else wanted to keep it a secret. Greed is rampant everywhere. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that all things are a scam. Some are definitely not.

Most Sincerely,

Angel Ballard

“Be open to the changes life offers you ~ then embrace them with an open heart, mind and soul.”

It’s yet another variation on the miraculous carburetor myth only this time the author claims to have first hand experience with it.  The myth has been around for decades and sometimes the myth claims this wonderful device burns water and sometimes it’s just a very efficient carburetor.  There are still people out there that claim to sell devices to run your car on water today. I wonder why they haven’t been knocked off by the Big Evil Oil Companies yet? As an added bonus that last website also includes 9/11-Was-An-Inside-Job conspiracy and Free-Energy-Plans scams to go along with the Water-Powered-Car scam.

I wasn’t sure what Angel’s intent was in sending me the email. On the face of it she appeared to just be trying to tell me that I was too skeptical, but there was also the chance that she was fishing to see if I was interested in this miracle of hers. So I sent the following reply:

    You’re right, Angel, your story is bullshit. If I had a dime for every time someone told me about a magical carburetor that got ridiculous mileage I’d be a rich man by now.

    So what’s your angle? Are you fishing to see if I’d profess an interest so you could claim to have one of these wonderful devices you’d be willing to sell me cheap? Or do you just like lying to random strangers? You’ll have to do better than that if you want any hope of keeping my interest.

    Les

It generated the following response:

Nope…no ulterior motive…you’re just a stupid, evil bastard with not one brain cell to piss on. Have a beautiful day fuckwad!

So she’s either an idiot or I didn’t take the bait. Or both. Hard to say either way.

Still, as I said in my last reply to her, it makes for a great entry in the Conversations with a Dumbass series.

Just as I speculated: “Spore” DRM is about blocking resales of the game.

Thinking of buying a second-hand copy of Spore? Might want to think twice:

According to the buyer, his copy of the game was purchased from “a crotchety old redneck,” but the buyer didn’t get the necessary information needed to get into the game’s main account, and thus couldn’t play. A call to customer support was no help; sellers have to give the purchaser the account name and password, almost like a World of Warcraft account. Unless buyers get that information from the person or store they get the used game from, nothing can be done. EA will not let you open another account.

The portion of the game’s EULA that deals with sales is interesting; the company technically allows it, but EA won’t make it easy on you. “You may not be able to transfer the right to receive updates, dynamically served content, or the right to use any online service of EA in connection with the Software,” the agreement states. “You may not be able to transfer the Software if you have already exhausted the terms of this License by authenticating the Software on the allowed number machine [sic]. Subsequent recipients of this License may not be able to authenticate the Software on additional machines.”

I speculated about that possibility in a previous entry and I elaborated on it in a comment at the GamerDNA blog. I’m only surprised that it took this long before someone fell victim to it. All the claims that SecuROM is on Spore to prevent piracy are now revealed for the total bullshit they are. It’s not about piracy, it’s about limiting the first-sale doctrine. If you bought it they want you to keep it whether you play it or not. Don’t loan it to a friend, don’t try to resell it, make those fuckers buy their own copy so we get a few more bucks.

Best Amazon.com Customer Reviews page EVAR!

I never got around to writing about it, but awhile back word was spreading on the blogs about an amazingly overpriced set of ethernet cables being put out by the folks at Denon that supposedly enhanced audio playback to such a degree that they were selling these cables for a mere $500. No, that’s not a typo.

The page lists a lot of bullshit reasons why these cables are supposedly so good for audio playback that only the hyper-credulous could ever buy into, but it has spawned one bit of awesomeness and that’s the greatest Amazon.com customer reviews page ever seen by mortal man. I swear some of these folks must be ad copy people doing work for the Q-Ray and Q-Link scams. Here’s one of my favorites written by customer S. V. Bugaj:

Many people have posted here who appear not to understand the science behind Denon’s cabling and its superior hyperphasal multibit inductive ultraconductance technologies. They assume that there is no way to improve upon the transmissive properties of copper cabling (mainly because they don’t understand the properties of alloying megacopper), or to create a better-than-normal digital signal (BTND coding). I would give this cable eleventy million stars if I could, and once you understand, so will you.

In order to clear things up for the scitards, let me quote to you from the original Denon research literature by Quick & Salwen:

“Work has been proceeding in order to bring perfection to the crudely conceived idea of a new cable technology that will not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but will also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters. Despite the claims of some critics, such a cable is possible. We call it the Turbo-encable-ator.

The cabling system has a base-plate connector of prefabulated amulite, surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two spurving bearings are in a direct line with the pentametric fan. The main cable winding is of the normal lotus-o-delta type placed in panendermic semi-boloid slots in the stator, every seventh conductor being connected by a nonreversible tremble pipe to the differential girdlespring on the ‘up’ end of the grammeters.

Forty-one manestically spaced grouting brushes are arranged to feed into the pulse phasing slipstream a mixture of high S-value phenylhydrobenzamine and 5% reminative tetryliodohexamine. Both of these liquids have specific pericosities given by P = 2.5C.n^6-7 where n is the diathetical evolute of retrograde temperature phase disposition and C is Cholmondeley’s annular grillage coefficient. Initially, n was measured with the aid of a metapolar refractive pilfrometer, but up to the present date nothing has been found to equal the transcendental hopper dadoscope. It is clear from this that intrapolarphasal preteslence is now empraxified, correlating with an increase in conductive hyperplatitization.

Electrical engineers will appreciate the difficulty of nubbing together a regurgitative purwell and a supramitive wennelsprock. Indeed, this proved to be a stumbling block to further development until, in 1992, it was found that the use of anhydrous nangling pins enabled a kryptonastic boiling shim to the tankered. Spooling of the reframublant diaphanator became possible, allowing for cromulence.

Our early attempts to construct a sufficiently robust spiral decommutator failed, potentially dooming the project, largely because of a lack of appreciation of the large quasi-piestic stresses in the gremlin strands; the latter were specially designed to hold the roffit windings to the spamshaft. When, however, it was discovered that wending could be prevented by a simple addition to the living sockets, almost perfect running was secured. With this problem overcome, we were able to initiate googolpolar preferatory unbinding.

The operating point is maintained as near as possible to the h.f. rem peak by constantly fromaging the bitumogenous spandrels. This is a distinct advance on the standard nivel-sheave in that no dramcock gel is required after the phase detractors have been remissed. Such advances allow for non-holoxified, doubly-flexocorrigent operation.

Undoubtedly, the Turbo-encable-ator has now reached a very high level of technical development. It has been successfully used for generating nofer trunnions. In addition, whenever a barescent skor signal is required, the cable connector may be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocating dingle arm to reduce sinusoidal depleneration.”

Now that you know the science behind these amazing cables, you can see just what an amazing advance they truly are. With all that R&D behind them, they’d be cheap at twice the price. I haven’t listened to any music across them yet, but all relevant synthetic cableometrics show that the AKDL1 are operates at a very advanced level and should be more than suitable for hyperlistening.

If I ever get around to actually selling my soon-to-be-patented Anti-Alien Anal Probe Ass Shield you can bet your ass I’ll hire Mr. Bugaj to write my ad copy! And that’s just one of many hilarious customer reviews that only the deeply sarcasm impaired could ever mistake as being real.

Found via Boing Boing Gadgets.

SEB Mailbag: Conversations with a Dumbass - Teslar Watch edition.

Got the following email last night in regards to the entry I wrote awhile back about the captastic Teslar watch:

From: Allan “Sid” Sidney – Lensminder@msn.com
Subject: Teslar watch

Hello,
Just a note from someone who has one and likes it.  I bought the watch for the esthetic reasons and because it is somewhat of a status symbol. I work hard for my money and I can afford to have a thousand dollar watch on my wrist and I don’t care if you don’t like it.
If it happens to have other benefits besides correct time all the better? You spend your extra money on a website,  I spend mine on watches.
I love this country
Adios

Here’s the reply I sent back:

    Allan,

    I give a fuck if you like the watch. Whether or not you feel the watch is worth the money doesn’t change the fact that the claims of the company are complete bullshit. When you have something substantial to offer in the way of a discussion then feel free to contact me again, but personal opinions on the watch are irrelevant to the point of my entry.

    Though this will make a great new post in my “Discussions with a Dumbass” series. Thanks for sending it along.

    Les

An amusing discussion at work over the “Zeitgeist” movie.

Every morning at work we gather in the cafeteria of one of the buildings to check-in with the boss and find out what most of us will be doing that day. For me it’s the same thing, I run tickets, which I hate, but which I’m overly competent at so all the RC’s ask that I be put on tickets. Depending on what’s going on this little session can take an hour or so to play out and as we’re waiting we make small talk and bullshit with each other. This morning one of the guys, I’ll call him “Mark” for the purposes of this entry, starts talking about this amazing film he watched on the Internet last night and it’s clear he’s quite excited about it. Turns out it’s the Zeitgeist conspiracy documentary that not only tries to show that Christianity is false by using the Jesus is a copy of Horus argument which we’ve talked about here before, but also goes on to try and claim that 9/11 is a conspiracy on the part of the U.S. Government. When this movie was first making the rounds on the blogs I had a lot of folks send me the link and I watched it and was very unimpressed with it. I intended to write something about it, but so many other people have debunked it already that I didn’t see the point.

What I found really amusing about the discussion itself was the way “Mark” started it up. He began by saying that he thought the first third of the movie—the part that claims Christianity is made up of a lot of other older religions—is pure and utter bullshit while the rest of the movie was one hundred percent factual and dead on the mark. His argument was basically that you can’t prove religion true or false because it’s all based on faith so the “religion bashing” is bullshit, but all that other stuff was totally factual. I actually had to laugh at the fact that he was claiming that the filmmakers didn’t know what they were talking about when it came to religion, but that he trusted them implicitly about 9/11 and the whole Bankers Are Out To Screw Us conspiracy. My laughter was not well received and he challenged me to disprove the claims on 9/11 as he apparently thought that’s what I found so funny. I tossed him a couple of softball questions and then let it drop because at least one other co-worker was nodding along with him and agreeing that it was all one big conspiracy and the last thing I needed to do was start a big argument first thing in the morning.

If nothing else it was an excellent example of confirmation bias at work. Because “Mark” doesn’t agree with the first third of the movie he writes it off as bullshit, but because the rest lines up with what he already believes he accepts it as factual and fails to see the irony in holding these two opposing views on the same documentary. Maybe I’ll point this out to him later when it’s less likely to result in a huge scene, but considering how evident it was that he bought into the conspiracy theory hook, line, and sinker it’ll probably be a waste of time.

Makers of “Airborne” opt to settle in class action suit.

If you’ve caught a cold in the last ten years then you’ve probably had at least one person try to convince you to use a product called Airborne, a purported cure for the common cold which proudly proclaims it was invented by a school teacher. Because the first person you look for when you’re sick is a school teacher as opposed to, say, an actual doctor.

For me that person is my mother-in-law who is absolutely sold on the product. Every time I catch a cold, usually because someone else in the house has one, she gently reminds me that she has plenty of Airborne around for me to use. And, every time, I read the back of the box to her that says “THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO TREAT, CURE, OR DIAGNOSE ANY DISEASE.” And, every time, she says, “I know, but I take it and my cold isn’t as bad as everyone else’s.” The old anecdotal evidence thing. Sometimes she does seem to fare better, but most of the time she’s as miserable or more so than anyone else in the house who has a cold. This time when we both had colds mine was shorter in duration and less severe than hers was and I didn’t take anything other than plenty of fluids and rest. I love my mother-in-law dearly, but the product is an expensive placebo pill and has about the same success rate.

Well as it turns out there are other folks who were just as skeptical and they ended up filing a class action lawsuit against the company for making false advertising claims:

Makers of the herbal supplement Airborne have agreed to pay $23.3 million in a class-action lawsuit over false advertising. David Schardt, a senior nutritionist with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says it’s just one battle in his efforts to prevent companies from making misleading claims.

The spread of Airborne has been something of a national phenomenon, with hopeful consumers reaching for the product that said, “It’s the one designed by a school teacher.”

But it’s also the one, Schardt says, that’s been misleading consumers for 10 years. First, he says, Airbone entered the market claiming that its formula — a result of research by second-grade teacher Victoria Knight-McDowell — could ward off colds. Airborne later backed off, reworking its campaign to say the supplement “boosts your immune system.”

You can’t get much more vague than it “boosts your immune system.” Really? In what way and to what effect? They won’t say, but the implication is clear. They don’t have any evidence that it does anything at all and the folks who filed the lawsuit even looked for any research that might have been done:

Consumers are still likely to be misled by the product, Schardt says. He and his teams searched for anyone who had studied Airborne’s combination of herbs and vitamins. The company had pointed to one research effort, but that was later revealed to be a two-person project paid for by Airborne. “It was so bad,” Schardt says. “The company wouldn’t let anyone see it.”

Unlike the lawsuit against the makers of Enzyte I wrote about awhile back, this one is a pretty minor victory. The terms of the settlement state that the company denies any wrongdoing or illegal activity, but you can get your money back if you have any old receipts for Airborne laying around. Back when the company was claiming their product would prevent or diminish colds they were clearly breaking the law, but now that they’ve switching to the vague “boosts your immune system” claim they’re in a grey enough area that they’ll likely avoid the FDA’s wrath anytime soon. At least until someone suffers harm from the product as it’s essentially a bunch of random herbs and mega-doses of vitamins such as vitamin C.

At $6 to $8 for a tube of 10 tablets, which you are supposed to take every three to four hours, Airborne is an expensive non-remedy that will continue to rake in the bucks because herbal and dietary supplements are almost completely unregulated so long as they keep their claims vague enough. The news of the settlement didn’t shake my mother-in-law’s faith in the product and she’s probably not alone in that regard as the fan base for Airborne is pretty big. It’s just another example of how having a lack of ethics is the path to riches in this country.

Maybe this will wipe that grin off “Smilin’ Bob’s” smarmy face.

The verdict is in on the Enzyte fraud case I wrote about awhile back. Owner Steve Warshak has been found guilty:

Steve Warshak, whose conviction was reported Friday by The Cincinnati Enquirer, is founder and president of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, which distributes Enzyte and a number of products alleged to boost energy, manage weight, reduce memory loss and aid restful sleep.

[…] Warshak, 40, could face more than 20 years in prison and his company could have to forfeit tens of millions of dollars.

[…] Prosecutors claimed customers were bilked out of $100 million through a series of deceptive ads, manipulated credit card transactions and the company’s refusal to accept returns or cancel orders. They said unauthorized credit card charges generated thousands of complaints over unordered products.

Warshak’s mother, Harriett Warshak, also was convicted of conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering.

The government also alleged the defendants obstructed investigations by two federal agencies.

Some former employees, including relatives of Warshak, pleaded guilty to other charges and cooperated with prosecutors. They testified that the company created fictitious doctors to endorse the pills, fabricated a customer-satisfaction survey and made up numbers to back claims about Enzyte’s effectiveness.

Ooo, they got Steve and his mom too! There’s still an appeal process to go through and it’s possible that the case could be overturned, but at least the public now knows that the only thing Enzyte inflates are the claims of its effectiveness. Not that that’ll stop the tons of apparently insecure morons who made these people fabulously wealthy from spending their hard earned cash on other equally as (in)effective products such as “ExtenZe”, but at least this should remove any lingering doubts for guys who have half a brain and the ability to think with it.

Here’s a shocker: Those Enzyte ads are pure bullshit.

I’ve written about Enzyte before after a man had the balls to admit the product didn’t help his undersized manhood become super-sized, something the company was hoping would never happen. I’ve not kept up with what the company has been up to since then, but it turns out that the Feds have gone after them as well. The resulting trial is revealing that the only thing being inflated by the makers of Enzyte are the claims of its effectiveness:

James Teegarden Jr., the former vice president of operations at Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, explained Tuesday in U.S. District Court how he and others at the company made up much of the content that appeared in Enzyte ads.

He said employees of the Forest Park company created fictitious doctors to endorse the pills, fabricated a customer satisfaction survey and made up numbers to back up claims about Enzyte’s effectiveness.

“So all this is a fiction?” Judge S. Arthur Spiegel asked about some of the claims.

“That’s correct, your honor,” Teegarden said.

The Feds are accusing the company founder, Steve Warshak, of a $100 million conspiracy to defraud customers and Teegarden is their star witness. The plan was simple: Make up some bullshit claims, whip up some completely fictional numbers and testimonials, then, once a customer took the bait, keep charging their credit card for as long as possible while make it as difficult as possible to drop out of the automatic shipments.

He said first-time customers were automatically enrolled in a “continuity program” that sent Enzyte to their homes every month and charged their credit cards without authorization.

“Without continuity, the company wouldn’t exist,” Teegarden said. “It was the sole profit of the business.”

If customers complained, he said, employees were instructed to “make it as difficult as possible” for them to get their money back. In some cases, Teegarden said, Warshak required customers to produce a notarized statement from a doctor certifying Enzyte did not work.

“He said it was extremely unlikely someone would get anything notarized saying they had a small penis,” Teegarden said.

Well, we know that at least one man was willing to admit it in court. I wonder if he won that case or not.

It’s interesting to note that while this trial has been ongoing so have the commercials for Enzyte, particularly on channels aimed at young men such as Spike TV and G4 TV. A host of imitators have shown up as well with similar claims and (more than likely) similar actual results. All because some guys are insecure about the size of their dick. On the one hand I’m of the opinion that anyone dumb enough to fall for that kind of sales pitch probably deserves what he gets, but when you add in the fact that the company went to great lengths to keep these suckers paying long after they realized what fools they’d been, then I’m inclined to be a tad more sympathetic.

Excellent OpEd from an airline pilot on the idiocy of airport security.

Go read this New York Times OpEd by Patrick Smith. It’s an excellent rant about the idiocy that passes for security that is the TSA. A snippet:

No matter that a deadly sharp can be fashioned from virtually anything found on a plane, be it a broken wine bottle or a snapped-off length of plastic, we are content wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and untold hours of labor in a delusional attempt to thwart an attack that has already happened, asked to queue for absurd lengths of time, subject to embarrassing pat-downs and loss of our belongings.

The folly is much the same with respect to the liquids and gels restrictions, introduced two summers ago following the breakup of a London-based cabal that was planning to blow up jetliners using liquid explosives. Allegations surrounding the conspiracy were revealed to substantially embellished. In an August, 2006 article in the New York Times, British officials admitted that public statements made following the arrests were overcooked, inaccurate and “unfortunate.” The plot’s leaders were still in the process of recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. They lacked passports, airline tickets and, most critical of all, they had been unsuccessful in actually producing liquid explosives. Investigators later described the widely parroted report that up to ten U.S airliners had been targeted as “speculative” and “exaggerated.”

The passenger screenings are nothing more than security theater that offer no real improvements in our safety and are a waste of time and money that make travel by air undesirable at best. Yet we put up with it because too many Americans are credulous and scared and willing to accept whatever bullshit they’re fed by the Government if they think it’ll keep them safe. Given the stunning track record of lying to the citizenry that the current administration has racked up you’d think more people would be second guessing the story they’re being told, but very few do. It doesn’t help that the majority of Americans are scientifically illiterate and devoid of any real critical thinking skills which would help them to realize that the Ban On Liquids is just stupid. This is a point that’s not lost on Mr. Smith:

As for Americans themselves, I suppose that it’s less than realistic to expect street protests or airport sit-ins from citizen fliers, and maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from a press and media that have had no trouble letting countless other injustices slip to the wayside. And rather than rethink our policies, the best we’ve come up with is a way to skirt them — for a fee, naturally — via schemes like Registered Traveler. Americans can now pay to have their personal information put on file just to avoid the hassle of airport security. As cynical as George Orwell ever was, I doubt he imagined the idea of citizens offering up money for their own subjugation.

How we got to this point is an interesting study in reactionary politics, fear-mongering and a disconcerting willingness of the American public to accept almost anything in the name of “security.” Conned and frightened, our nation demands not actual security, but security spectacle. And although a reasonable percentage of passengers, along with most security experts, would concur such theater serves no useful purpose, there has been surprisingly little outrage. In that regard, maybe we’ve gotten exactly the system we deserve.

It was Benjamin Franklin who once said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Those words remain as true today as they were in his time.

Link found at Boing Boing.

SEB Mailbag: The two sentence (kinda) conversion email.

Just got this in my inbox:

From: sk sheriff – sksheriff@stny.rr.com
Subject: [Sender was too stupid to think of one]

jesus is coming back and your and your just one man who will be left behind! read revelations and look whats happening in the wirld today and you tell me thats bull shit you fool

That’s exactly how it appeared in the email, no editing on my part whatsoever. Here’s the reply I sent back:

    It’s bullshit, you fool.

    Les

Never let it be said I don’t give people what they want.