Why do we accept fraud?

This post is the result of a convergence of four things. The first being the two hours I spent during Friday and Saturday reporting fraudulent Ebay listings. The second being a post by fellow blogger Chuck Miller mentioning how a satirical piece by someone else about a politician ended up getting that person’s post pulled (which sounds a lot like a free speech violation to me). Third was fellow blogger Jim Grey’s mentioning a similar on-line ‘debate’ over the issue of what is free speech or not in respect to a now infamous social media platform. And fourth would be my own recent suspension by Farcebook over their AI’s inability to comprehend context and thus thinking my statement of fact that the punishment for sedition is death is the same as threatening to kill someone. Good ol’ AI: lots of Artificial, not much Intelligence. Considering that people are infinitely smarter than computers and yet still not up to managing these tasks it’s more than a little stupid to put the machines in control, eh? Oh we can toss in fellow blogger Dan James’s accidental foray into the area of vision, perception, and psychology for added spice (although he didn’t mean to do this I’m sure).

Let’s start with the Ebay fraud. It was rather annoying, because the criminal involved dumped dozens of new listings of a certain camera I am interested in onto the site all at once. Having to wade through a sea of schlock to try and find any legitimate offers was not fun. How do I know they were fraudulent? Because no one suddenly has dozens of high-end cameras available which they are willing to offer at very low starting prices on short-term auctions. This is entirely outside the realm of probability. Plus I recognized some of the photos from earlier fraud listings. Oh and the idiot reused images, including between the three fake ‘seller’ names he was using. We’re talking Canon 5D, 6D, and 1D as well as full-frame Nikons and yes the Pentax 645 cameras were back again. So obvious it’s painful. I can’t imagine anyone falling for it, yet they must else why continue to perpetrate the scam? Like being threatened with arrest via pre-recorded telephone message (you must have gotten that call, haven’t you?)

Now how does this fraud work? I’m not sure. One way would be to drag the legitimate bidders up in price using sock-puppet accounts (all-too-common on Ebay) and then once the maximum has been determined and gone beyond simply offer the item “second chance” for the last legitimate bid price to all who participated and see who bites. I was recently subjected to this version and ignored it. But this presupposes the merchandise is real, and I doubt anyone has a hundred top-end digital cameras sitting around waiting to be sold cheaply.

More likely the bid is brought up and up and a sale is made. The seller collects the money, and buggers off. Fake accounts and all just disappear until they decide to risk discovery again and repeat the scam. This is one of the undoings of many scammers; they don’t know when to take the money and run, converting their ill-gotten gains into legitimate investments and living the easy life like any other politician would.

Really to police this Ebay would need three moderators per user to stay on top of the scams. That’s sort of how it is on the Internet, no? And not just with sales sites either. Facebook and Twitter are loaded with fake accounts and the scams aren’t always about business. Let’s face it, we’ve just come off four years of having a two-bit con artist masquerading as president of the United States (if you believe Donald Trump you seriously need psychiatric help, I’m not joking). And when the lies are proven they deny it even harder. Well he’s gone now and it’s time to get rid of the rest of them.

“Don’t lie” we tell our children. Then we give them stories about fictional beings and make up elaborate ruses to pretend they are real. Maybe if we explained what Santa Claus truly represents instead of insisting he’s an actual entity our kids would not be grounded in the idea that lies are not only acceptable, but preferable to the truth. Why else do we have so many people insisting on “alternative facts”? As a scientist it absolutely boggles my mind that reality has become optional and fantasy is an acceptable alternative. That’s the definition of insanity, people; refusing to accept demonstrable facts, holding on to delusions, and becoming violent when challenged. It’s bad enough seeing this in the drug addicts on the street (at least they have a chemically-induced excuse for their madness), it’s quite another kind of horror to see it in the people who are running your country. What’s their excuse? Perhaps we should remove the “win at any cost” attitude from our sports programs as well.

Finally about that bit that got me in trouble with Farcebook. How dare I suggest traitors should be executed in accordance with the law, eh? Isn’t that what they’d want, though? As they pretend to be about law and order; give them what they demand. In reality you’d be doing society a big favour. You can not educate crazy people, and these people are crazy. It’s a type of zealousness found in many cults and it leads to social destruction. We’ve just seen it try.

We know there are people out there who will grab a hold of any cause, no matter how noble, and corrupt it for their own purposes. Often this is no more than the thrill of the power they feel when they destroy something knowing they’ll get away with it because the blame will fall on everyone. They are anarchists, which is the worst (arguably the only) threat to society. The disbelievers of reality set themselves apart and proudly wear their anti-societal banner, proclaiming themselves to be the problem and being proud of it. What the hell kind of way is that to behave? Your mother taught you that, did she?

It’s amusing the number of them who think being asked to wear a mask to protect against spreading germs to others is some kind of infringement on their rights. They think this is a totalitarian society? Brother, if it were they would have just disappeared in the dark night never to be heard from again. Rather a lot different than a mere fine for being an idiot.

Not just the ones who violate the law in the extreme, but the ones who aver no law applies to them if they don’t happen to like it. They go on about “god-given” rights or “fundamental” freedoms. There’s no such thing. The only rights and freedoms anyone has are those granted by the society they live in, and they are always subject to change. If you don’t like the way the society is structured, there are legal means to change it. Attacking the legislature by force is not one of them. Nor is making up lies and insisting you won “by a landslide” an election you lost – sixty times over.

There are too many people in this world, there is no need to accommodate those who don’t want to be a part of it. There is no place in this world for popular-opinion based reality, nor the people who advocate such nonsense. So this old protester hippy leftover from a generation soon to be gone will take up his own mantle of anarchy profess that these are the very people that need to be permanently removed from among us. We need to execute them (Farcebook be damned).

And we need to teach our children better.

A cold and cruel world.

Boomer, okay.

I woke up in a bad mood today and I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m not even going to explain it. Everyone else can be angry about things, so I can as well. There’s lots to be angry about, from the trivial to the significant. Sometimes you can’t tell where one leaves off and the other begins. That’s because of what Douglas Adams called “the fundamental interconnectedness of it  all”.

One thing I’m angry about is the continuing insulting of the Baby Boomer Generation as though it is responsible for everything wrong in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re the bunch that moved society on by great leaps and bounds. When I was young segregation was a thing in so many places and situations it was horrible. But our generation turned George Wallace from “segregation forever” to “segregation never” and black people got elected mayors and governors in the South.

We knew pollution was a problem and went on to not just create Earth Day as a trendy symbol, but to clean up the land, air, and water. We really did. Remember the Environmental Protection Agency? It used to be a thing.

Never mind the advancements we made it the sciences. We are not responsible for the situational irony that smartphones are now used to ‘warn’ people of the ‘dangers’ of vaccines and fifth generation communication technology. We passed our science exams.

But just because one country put a leader in place (I can’t say ‘elected’ as that is debatable) who has proven to be the worst leader of any country in the history of the entire world and that person coincidentally belongs to our generation as well, we are all demoted to the same level of “moron troublemakers”. Well we didn’t vote him in; there aren’t enough of us left to do so. That means he had to have support from younger age groups, if not some foreign entity bypassing the entire electoral system somehow. He’s what is known as a “statistical outlier”, not a “representative sample” of the Baby Boomer Generation.

Thus we have the ignorant among us using the catch phrase “okay, boomer” as some sort of slight towards this now older generation because they have little understanding of history. They are so self-centered I’m not surprised they support an egomaniac moron, or in the case of Canada an ignorant narcissistic git who thinks budgets balance themselves. There’s no true leadership among the leaders these days, which explains the lack of empathy among the populace. Or perhaps vice-versa.

As a result we have ineffective social movements. People who think they can improve the future by denying the past. Crowds who like to complain, but offer no constructive criticism. Identifying what is wrong is the first step, but it is a meaningless one if you don’t also offer a solution (not just demand one). It should be pretty obvious that answers are not going to be forthcoming from people who are operating the currently flawed system. After all, if they could see the way to improvement they’d do it. (If they can see the way and don’t do it that is part of the problem.)

Taking down statues of past racists won’t solve anything. Taking down current racists will. The former is an exercise is denying history, and thus condemning the future to relive it. The latter is the way of change. Yes some of those statues should never have been put up in the first place. For example celebrating the Confederate traitors who were not only on the losing side of the war but also on the wrong side. But if you were to take down every commemoration of past slave owners you’d also be missing out on Thomas Jefferson. It’s a matter of context, you see. As it is with so many other things, like language where a particular word is not offensive but how it is used is.

It is good that NASCAR has banned the rebel flag from their grounds, even if it’s a decision coming 155 years late. But Mississippi still has it as part of their state flag. How can anyone justify that? The “part of our heritage” excuse is not viable: not everything in one’s heritage is something to be proud of. Almost every culture on Earth has had slavery at one time or another, and most were smart enough not only to end it but to not allow any romanticized depictions of it which might lead to people who were too far removed from the actual situation to think it wasn’t as bad as it was.

There are complaints that are justified and those that are not. An episode of Fawlty Towers gets removed from view because it contains blatant racist epithets. The fact that they are used in a manner that demonstrates how stupid and backward it is to be a bigot is ignored, and so the lesson that would be taught is lost. Gone With The Wind continues to stir controversy over its depiction of slavery in the southern US, even though that depiction is historically accurate.

There is a scene in Eugene O’Neil’s “Ah, Wilderness!” wherein a black servant is chastised for not being a racial stereotype for his master and is forced to hide his college education and carry on as the racists expect a black man to be. This is a telling bit, because a lot of them did just that: behaved as expected to avoid controversy and conflict.

But now we must erase words and people from history because they are offensive to modern sensibilities. Not “see how horrible it was? Haven’t we made lots of improvements?” but “oh we just don’t talk about that”. How will anyone learn from such denial? Do we not admonished neo-Nazis for their assertion the Holocaust didn’t happen?

As for the word “niggardly”, it isn’t even etymologically related. Learn, people.

People have become too simplistic. Things are either good or bad, and they can’t grasp the complex subtleties such as “the dose makes the poison”. So “the ‘N’ word” is eliminated from the language in all contexts, and the disgusting aspect of it is removed. It’s the opposite of the effect of over-using expletives which causes their impact to be lessened.

So to you younger, non-boomer generations I say stop pretending. Reality is an ugly thing at times, and you have to face up to it. Not every job in life is arranging flowers. Sometimes you have to shovel the shit.

I have a lot more to say about … well everything. But this was cathartic and will end now, even though I’m still in a very bad mood.