Twitter Treasure

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Twitter logo transparent

Twitter is a good invention. It’s easy and fun. Much less demanding and intrusive than Facebook. So much so that many millions of people, from the famous to ordinary people like you and I, use it every day.

On the back of that success the Twitter company is doing very well. But recently it did even better when its shares jumped four per cent in a matter of minutes.

It all happened after a buyout story appeared on the internet that claimed that Twitter had received a significant offer. It started off, “Twitter is working closely with bankers after receiving an offer to be bought out for $31 billion…”

fake-twitter-story

Investors piled in. And not just the amateurs, lots of the ‘professional’ Wall Street guys too.

The trouble was, however, that the internet story was on a bogus web site and was completely fake. The site was called “bloomberg.market”. It was not “Bloomberg.com” the official name of the web presence for the Bloomberg financial organization.

“Bloomberg.market” was what they call a ‘mirror’ of the genuine “Bloomberg.com” website. Whoever designed “bloomberg.market” set it up to look like “Bloomberg.com”. They copied real headlines and linked them back to the real dot-com website. With one exception: the fake Twitter story, which was dressed up to look like a legitimate webpage.

The spike in the Twitter share price only lasted about 15 minutes before Bloomberg denounced the story as fake and the share price dropped back to its previous level. But 15 minutes is a long time in the world of finance and plenty of time for someone to profit substantially from the scam.

spike in the Twitter share price

No one yet knows who owns the dot-market domain – except the people who own it, of course –  but it was registered just days before the scam message, using a proxy service called “WhoisGuard”, based in Panama, that protects registrant details by offering its own address and contact numbers. But the details of “WhoisGuard” on its own website at “WhoisGuard.com” also appear to be fake, listing a telephone number that is disconnected. Emails to their contact address have not received a response either.

The significance of this incident is not that some greedy and stupid people lost money rushing to buy Twitter shares on the back of this fake announcement.

The problem is that so many new dot word domains have recently been allowed – hundreds of them in fact – that the whole internet is becoming bloated and confusing. And expensive.

If you are a company that wants to protect your online identity and integrity it could now cost you tens of thousands of dollars to cover all the permutations. Not many companies, even huge affairs like Bloomberg, will choose to do that.

That leaves the way wide open for cyber criminals to take advantage of gullible internet users.

I am certain they will.

Like the Twitter announcement, it’s just too good a deal to refuse.

online-scam_gullible-investor-cartoon

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I’ve Heard Of A Plane Going Missing – But An Entire Airport???

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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lost

Bureaucrats lose things because they are incompetent and stupid.

We all know that.

My posts on the debacle at the US government’s Office of Personnel Management, where they lost over 21 million records of government employees and those who had applied for government jobs, was a good example.

I though at the time I read about this and did my blog posts that this would be a tough one to beat as regards stupidity and incompetence.

I was wrong.

Shannon-airport-building-2008

 

Enter the Irish.

Irish bureaucrats have lost an entire airport.

And it only cost them €27 million  to do it.

A bargain one might think in terms of bureaucratic faux pas.

Up until last week you could find Ireland’s Shannon Airport, in Shannon, County Clare.

Sounds logical enough. If I was looking for Shannon Airport, Shannon is the first place I would look for it. They have had an airport there for over seventy years.

Now, however, after the introduction of Ireland’s new €27 million postcode system, the ‘Eircode’, you can now find Shannon Airport in – wait for it – a different county, County Limerick.

mapofcountiesofireland

If that isn’t funny enough, the system also has a ‘mapping’ option which the bureaucrats say can identify the exact latitude and longitude of 2.2 million individual addresses. They’ll most likely be in the wrong latitude and longitude, but at least you know exactly how wrong the location is.

Naturally there are other problems with the ‘Eircode’ postcode system, ranging from other incorrect addresses to data protection concerns, but the airport one is the star of the show.

In typical bureaucratic fashion, despite the fact that the whole thing is an almighty mess, Communications Minister Alex White defended the new national system.

He even claimed it would make postal deliveries much easier in the long run – the ‘long run’ presumably referring to the distance traveled by your mail going to the wrong delivery address and confused users of the system going to all the wrong places.

Communications Minister Alex White

Not only do the bewildered Irish users of this new system get wrong addresses for their €27 million, but they are only allowed a miserable fifteen searches per day, meaning you would need to persevere with it for more than a week if you were organizing a big event, like a wedding or anniversary do.

There is an option to search for more wrong addresses but the fee for that dubious privilege is between €60 and €180 a year, depending on the number of searches performed.

Good luck with selling that too!

Now where did I put the milk for my coffee?

Ah yes, in the garage next door.

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Boffin Bollocks!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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mad scientist cartoon

I would love to have been a scientist.

Not a real one, I’m not clever enough or dedicated enough for that. Rather, I would have loved to have been one of those idiots who try to make a name for themselves off pronouncements on things about which they know absolutely nothing.

I saw another one of their headline grabbers (that I like to call “boffin bollocks”) recently. The headline went something like “Shock Warning Aliens Are Coming.” And it wasn’t about more Mexicans making their way north across the US border.

It was from NASA’s Chief Scientist, Ellen Stofan, and claimed that first contact with alien life will happen “very soon” – very soon being not tomorrow, but within the next decade or two.

“We know where to look,” she confirmed.

Yes, “UP” would be my non-scientific guess at the best direction.

“We know how to look,” she added.

Again I am forced to agree. Personally I’d use a telescope, and a great big one, but that’s only me!

astronomer cartoon www.davidreneke.com

Ms Stofan was ably backed up by a colleague, John M. Grunsfeld, who came out with good sound bite words and phrases like “solar system”, “galaxy”, “the icy crusts of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Europa” (my favorite I think) and “the internal water within Saturn’s moon Enceladus”.

Mars and the Martians also got mentioned, but only with suggestions that life may have at one time been present on the planet. H. G. and Orson Wells had beaten them to visits by the ‘real’ Martians many, many years ago.

War of the Worlds

More scientists, this time at the Parkes Observatory in Australia, have been carefully studying peryton-a type of radio signals similar to Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) which are known to come from somewhere else in the galaxy.

For years, they had been puzzled by these brief but intense bursts of radio waves that in some ways appeared to be coming from deep space. There have been dozens of reported perytons, some dating back to the 1990s, and theories about the signals’ origin included ball lightning, aircraft, and components of the telescopes themselves.

Then this year they made a break through. They discovered the source of the rogue signals. They were coming from – no, not somewhere deep in the galaxy – but instead from the microwave oven in the next room.

In what has to be the understatement of the year, Emily Petroff of Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology admitted, “It was quite surprising that it ended up being microwaves.”  I bet it was!

microwave aliens

I must add that I’m a big fan of space exploration, always have been, since I was a kid and was captivated by the television coverage of the Apollo missions. My only regret is that it all takes so very long that I will have gone ‘supernova’ before we see any tangible results of that exploration. There’s never a handy wormhole around when you need one, is there!

I am also a big fan of TV sci-fi series like the Star Treks, the Stargates and so forth, and of movies from ‘War of the Worlds’, thru ‘E.T.’ to ‘Independence Day’ and beyond. But I also have the wit to realize I’m being entertained and these things are not real.

So is there life out there?

I wouldn’t rule the idea out for a second. But what I would rule out is that intelligent life is ever going to be found within our Solar System, maybe not even within our Galaxy. But it could be out there somewhere.

The question we should be asking is, assuming it is benign and not hell bent on conquering all in its path, or maybe viewing us as a culinary delicacy, would that intelligent life really want anything to do with a planet full of people who, for almost their entire existence, seem to want nothing better than to continually wage war on each other?

I think having observed us for a while they would probably pass us by without calling in to say hello.

If I were in their shoes – or space boots – that’s what I would do – and at warp speed too!

alien observers

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The Banksters Balls It Up Again!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the effect that low oil prices would have on the banks. (Click here if you want to read it.) and another the week before last about the reasons for the decline in the oil price (click here if you want to read that)

As they always do, the idiots that run these financial institutions saw something they thought was going to last forever and threw their money and their clients’ money at it without reason.

Nowhere was this type of recklessness more apparent than during the sub-prime fraud when the banksters lent money to people who clearly could not afford it and then sold on those loans as bogus ‘AAA’ securities to their wealthy customers and other buyers who mistakenly thought that the banks would not try to con them.

cartoon happy banker

Well the banks have done more or less the same today.

Banks have been lending hand over fist to oil companies and those who service the energy sector. They have lent billions of dollars that  –  now the oil price has plummeted  –  has no chance of being paid back. They have underwritten bonds, lent money on expensive fracking operations and even financed the speculative building of homes for oil workers.

It was good while it lasted. But it didn’t last long!

In the 1980s something similar happened when energy prices also slumped. Texas was particularly hard hit and many banks either collapsed or had to be rescued because of their bad loans to oil companies and to local real estate developers speculating on the oil boom.

It’s going to happen again.

The bankster’s greed and stupidity means that their banks are going to take another financial hit, they are going to lose more of their customers’ money. Time for another round of big bonuses, if the last disaster is anything to go by!

Obviously they have been too stupid to learn from the past. Not surprising really.

cartoon sad banker

But the big question is what will government do this time?

Has it learned anything?

Will the government let the banks suffer the consequences of their own stupidity, as they should have when the sub-prime catastrophe hit?

Or will they again use OUR money to bail the banks out, making some nonsense excuse that these companies “are too big to allow to go under”?

And we are talking about BIG banks. Wells Fargo, for example, a huge financial powerhouse, made approximately 15 percent of its investment banking revenue from the oil and gas industry during 2014. Another biggie, Citigroup, was much the same, with this sector accounting for around 12 percent.

And it’s not just in America that the pain is being felt this time.

In Canada, which largely avoided the worst of the sub-prime debacle, some of their leading banks could face an even sharper decline in revenues, so reliant is the whole country on the energy and resources sectors. One of Canada’s biggest banks, Scotiabank, derives approximately 35 percent of its investment banking revenue from oil and gas companies, according to 2014 figures.

wall_street_crooks

Then there’s Wall Street.

Usually they make loans like these and sell them off to unsuspecting investors, however, with the very public fall in oil prices that everyone knows about, firms that financed energy deals are now finding it harder to offload this debt.

As an example of their problems, according to a recent NYT report, Morgan Stanley, was among a group of banks that made $850 million of loans to Vine Oil and Gas, an affiliate of Blackstone, a private equity firm. They are still trying to sell on that debt, but no one is buying. Goldman Sachs and UBS led a $220 million loan last year to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management to buy Express Energy Services. Not all that debt has been sold to other investors either so they are left holding that baby too.

That’s only loans to the oil companies and speculators. Some of the worst loans made by the banks have been to a multitude of companies that provide services to the oil industry. Some of these services companies, lured by the oil boom, are relatively new and/or small and probably under-capitalized so their debt burden can quickly drag them under when projected profits fail to materialize.

Naturally you can expect that the banksters will use all their lobbying and political power to make sure the government steps in again.

But the truth is the government really does not need to (they didn’t the last time either). The ‘to-big-to-fail’ banks may lose on their energy bets, but they will recoup a lot of that money from ordinary people like you and I.

Lower oil prices means that we need less cash to fill up our gas tanks or heat our homes, so the chances are we will feel a bit freer to use that credit card or maybe even take out a mortgage.

Of course, for the banksters that’s a slow way to riches. They want that business for sure, but they will also want the government to write off their other bad loans too.

Let’s see what happens this time.

collapsing bank sign

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General Confusion And Major Disaster.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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British General Election 2015

No, today’s post is not about matters military, although the term ‘SNAFU’ would be rather appropriate.

This one is about the General Election in Britain in May 2015 that will decide who will run the country for the next five years and who will be Prime Minister. This is a crucial election for voters because there is no real front runner. One party is as bad as the other. So a few votes here and there could make a crucial difference. Sounds a bit like Florida!

It may even end up with another coalition government in Britain, although I don’t know if the Conservatives could stomach another five years of being tied to the Liberals – but what am I talking about, of course they could, if it meant clinging on to power.

The election might be even closer than it should be because millions of people may be unable to vote. The secretive Whitehall department of stupid bureaucrats responsible for – wait for the irony, “efficiency” – refused to heed warnings from its own pilot programs that showed it had major problems with data matching.

data matching

It is very similar to the way the nerds at Microsoft didn’t believe their testers when they told them Windows 8 was a pile of doo-doo.

The bureaucrats first of all created new legal requirements for voter registration requiring them to verify information that was previously taken on trust.

The only thing is, about five and a half million voters went missing from the Electoral Register. The tests they carried out told them this was likely to happen, but they didn’t listen. Bureaucrats never do until it is too late.

According to government sources, “The digital service allows anyone to register to vote online, from any device connected to the web. It’s incredibly quick and simple – it takes less than five minutes.”

They forgot to add the crucial line that – it doesn’t work.

The problems became apparent as soon as the web service went live. The Electoral Register was a lot shorter than it had been. Not only that but strange things also began to happen.

cartoon boy

For example, a five-year-old boy in Crewe had been given the vote – but he couldn’t get off the Electoral Register, because he was not able to produce his National Insurance number, which of course he didn’t have – because he was only five. Duhh!!!

In another case a woman, who had been an eligible voter on the Electoral Roll for twenty years, failed to get on to the new one because her National Insurance number was in her maiden name which did not match with her married name which the system insisted she use now.

The whole thing has turned into a government-created mess. People are now filling in the registration form thinking that means they are registered to vote, but actually they haven’t. All they have managed to do is submit an application to register to vote.

It’s bit like filling in a form so that you are eligible to fill in a form. A bureaucrat’s dream!

So it’s looking like general confusion and major disaster for the election. Just more proof that government bureaucrats and computer systems just don’t belong together.

bureaucrats and computer systems

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April Fools Day, So Let’s Have A Look At Some Fools!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s April Fool’s Day and what more appropriate post than to have our final look (for now) at the fools who need warning labels on everything and the fools who write the warnings.

Enjoy the stupidity.

warning exp

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“Remove the plastic wrapper.”

The first instruction on a

bag of microwave popcorn;

BUT to see the instructions,

one first has to remove the plastic

wrapper and unfold the pouch.

 popcornbag

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“Take one capsule by mouth

three times daily until gone.”

On a box of pills.

 box of pills

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“Open packet. Eat contents.”

Instructions on a packet of airline peanuts.

 packet of airline peanuts

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“Remove wrapper,

open mouth,

insert muffin,

eat.”

Instructions on the packaging

for a muffin at a 7-11.

 packaging for a muffin

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“Use like regular soap.”

On a bar of Dial soap.

 bar of Dial soap

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“Instructions: usage known.”

Instructions on a can of black pepper.

 black pepper

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“Serving suggestion: Defrost.”

On a Swann frozen dinner.

 swan-to-go

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“Simply pour the biscuits into a bowl and

allow the cat to eat when it wants.”

On a bag of cat biscuits.

 bag of cat biscuits

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“In order to get out of car,

open door, get out, lock doors,

and then close doors.”

In a car manual.

 car manual

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“The appliance is switched on by setting

the on/off switch to the ‘on’ position.”

Instructions for an espresso kettle.

 Bialetti - moka pot 10

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Warning: Read Carefully, More Stupid Signs Ahead!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Heed the warning in the title, another selection of warning signs written for the chronically stupid follows.

That these have to be written is a tragedy in itself. That most of them seem to be written by they very people they are aimed at is one of those mysteries that may take years to solve.

In the meantime, enjoy.

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pointing left keep right sign

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“Malfunction: Too less water.”

A notice left on a coffee machine.

 malfunction

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“Prescriptions cannot be filled by phone.”

On a form in a clinic.

 phone

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“You could be a winner!

No purchase necessary.

Details inside.”

On a bag of Fritos.

 bag of Fritos

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“Fits one head.”

On a hotel-provided shower cap box.

 shower cap box

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“Payment is due by the due date.”

On a credit card statement.

 credit card statement

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“No small children.”

On a laundromat triple washer.

 laundromat triple washer

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“Warning: Ramp Ends In Stairs.”

A sign, correctly describing the end of a

concrete ramp intended for handicap access to a bridge.

 Warning Ramp Ends In Stairs

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“Take care: new non-slip surface.”

On a sign in front of a newly renovated ramp

that led to the entrance of a building.

 Take care new non-slip surface

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“In case of flood, proceed uphill.

In case of flash flood, proceed uphill quickly.”

One of the emergency safety procedures at a summer camp.

 summer camp

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“Ingredients: Artificially bleached flour, sugar,

vegetable fat, yeast, salt, gluten, soya flour,

emulsifier 472 (E) & 481, flour treatment agents,

enzymes, water.

May contain ……….fruit.”

The ingredients list on a package of fruit buns.

 package of fruit buns

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“100% pure yarn.”

On a sweater.

 sweater

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“Some materials may irritate sensitive skin.

Please look at the materials if you believe this may be the case.

Materials:

Covering: 100% Unknown.

Stuffing: 100% Unknown.”

On a pillow.

pillow

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