20 October 2009

A fool and his money are soon parted."
     - Thomas Tusser

I received a noteworthy email this morning. I offer it without comment, typos and grammar intact:

Dear Friend,
I am MR MAYO JARRAR the manager In charge at the bill and exchange department BANK OF AFRICA (B.O.A) In my department the bank management discovered an abandoned sum of $15m US dollars ( fifteen million US Dollars) . In an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer who died along with his entire family in year 2004 in a plane crash.
Since the got information about his death, the management have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because the cannot release it unless somebody applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guide lines but unfortunately the learnt that all his supposed next of kin or relation died alongside with him at the plane crash leaving nobody behind for the behind as his next of kin.
It's therefore upon this discovery that I now as an insider decided to make this business proposal to you and let's join together as partners and claim the money from my bank to your own account as the next of kin or relation to the deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and I don’t want this money to go into the Bank treasury as unclaimed Bill with the plans of the bank managements.
The Banking law and guideline here stipulates that if such money remained unclaimed after five years, the money will be transferred into the Bank treasury’s as unclaimed fund. The request of foreigner as next of kin in this business is occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and a Burkinabe can not stand as next of kin to a foreigner as the rules and regulation of my bank.
I decided to make it that 30 % of this money will be for you as my foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account and assisting me , 10 % will be for any expenses both of us will make during the processing of this fund to you as the next of kin to my bank and 60 % will be for me and this 10% is for any expenses from your own side you make and from my own side I make during the processing of this fund to you as the next of kin , and when the fund is transfer to your account first of all we have to deduct the expenses we made from our pocket during the processing by my bank before shearing the fund according to the percentages I indicated here in my proposal .
Then after I will visit your country for disbursement according to the percentages indicated. Therefore to enable the immediate transfer of this fund to you as the next of kin, you must apply first to the bank as relations or next of kin to the deceased indicating your bank name, your bank account number, your private telephone and fax number for easy and effective communication and location where the money will be remitted when the processing will be over and approval of the fund to you as the next of kin . Upon receipt of your reply, I will send you by fax or email the text of the application.
I will not fail to bring to your notice that this transaction is hitch free and you should not fear as I have all the information related to the deceased customer also the fund deposited here in my bank . You should contact me immediately as soon as you receive this letter. Trusting to hear from you . Immediately you receive this letter call me for giving you information also send email to me. +226 78 87 63 72

I've changed my mind. Here's my comment--anyone dumb enough to form a "partnership" with a person who identifies himself as a generic jar of mayonnaise (why didn't he at least call himself Cain or Hellman?) absolutely deserves what he or she gets. Which, of course, will be nothing, other than the harsh lesson eventually learned from the scam.

Besides, I have better things to do with my money.

Excuse me. I have to call my broker. He says he's got a hot tip about coal-mining companies on Jupiter.


15 October 2009

Oft in the lone church yard at night I've seen,
By glimpse of moonshine chequering thro' the trees,
The school boy, with his satchel in his hand,
Whistling aloud to bear his courage up
    - "The Grave" by Robert Blair

Here is a sampling of the headlines I faced when I went to Google News this morning. It's not for the faint of heart to read:

"Gunmen, Bombers Hit 4 Sites in Pakistan; 37 Die," "Stagnant Consumer Prices Prevent Social Security Benefit Increases," "'Miracle' Mom: Swine Flu Almost Killed Pregnant Woman," "Dad Released From Japanese Jail in Custody Fight," "US Stocks Drop After Goldman, Citigroup Results; Alcoa Falls," "Stagnant Consumer Prices Prevent Social Security Benefit Increases," "Allies Push Israel for Gaza Probe," "North Korea Warns of Possible Naval Clash With South," "Clinton Calls for Joint Missile-Defense System on Russia Trip," "Mom of Son Set on Fire: It's 'Disgusting'," "Fact Check: Health nsurers cherry-pick facts," "Health care: Public option gains traction," "Majority of Nobel jury 'objected to Obama prize'," "Hidden Costs of Medicare Advantage," "Missing laptop contains data on 800,000 doctors," "Corzine Can't Count on Open-Space Bonds for Environmentalists," "Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 a year, harm millions," "US Math Tests Find Scant Gains Across New York," "Model Claims Ralph Lauren Fired Her For Being Fat," "Harley-Davidson's Profit Plunges," "One (or two) years on - they have learnt nothing," "Marathon winner disqualified for wearing iPod," "Is Your Digestive System Making You Sick," and "Former Teacher's Aide to Change Plea in Child Rape Case."

Not very pretty, is it?

This is a snapshot of what's going on in the world, and in the course of any twenty-four hour period, it changes. The problem I have is that it never seems to get better, or less miserable. Seriously, with so many crises coming at me daily from every corner of the planet, battles over health care, education, economics, politics, privacy, ecology, religion, sex, and athletics, my stomach churns, and frequently I feel like weeping as I read these unending accounts of man's inhumanity. To everything, and everyone.

When I was much younger, I suffered from recurring nightmares in which nuclear bombs exploded, crazy-eyed and hatchet-wielding maniacs chased me through a neighborhood where all the doors were locked, and monsters waiting to devour me lurked in darkened rooms. It took years of hard work to banish those night terrors. I'm worried that if I continue to expose myself to the news, the nightmares will return with a vengeance.

I'm not now sure it's possible to read the news on a daily basis, and remain sane. I think it's time I declare a personal moratorium on horror, cruelty, and insanity. I stopped watching television news years ago, because I didn't want the awful images burned into my memory. Today, I will stop reading the internet news, for the exact same reason.

I know that evil exists, and I know the problems being reported are real. However, I also know that being fed this stuff on a daily basis is diminishing the quality of my life. After reading for ten minutes, I'm frequently sad, frightened, and anxious. The effects linger--they're like a bad smell that I can't escape. I want more control over what makes its way to the space between my ears.

And the coup de grĂ¢ce that cemented this decision for me? "No More Jon & Kate After November."

The horror. The horror.

Excuse me. I need to go wash out my eyes with soap.