Tuesday 31 October 2023

Scam or not a Scam

And, don't take pills from strange men

I recently purchased a pistol crossbow online from a major New Zealand company. I received the usual courtesy email and was assigned an order number. The next day, I received a second email purporting to be from the company asking for a copy of my photo ID. On a second look, I noticed that my name in the second email had used my middle name as my surname, and the order number did not match the original. All this raised my 'spider senses', and I honestly thought I was dealing with a scam. I decided to phone the company's nearest store, which happened to be in Wellington. I voiced my concern to the disembodied voice. They said they would pass it on to their 'Software Team', and he would call back after I forwarded the second email to them. I waited for 24 hours, and after no response, I sent a reminder email. I received an email that the 'team' was diligently probing my issue (please note: this did not relate to any 'issue' emanating from any orifice of mine). I politely waited a further 24 hours and thereafter decided to phone a different store based in Auckland. I connected with a delightful young man, who, during the conversation, checked the order numbers I had received. It turns out that it was all legit, and indeed, it is company policy to ask for ID as proof of age when dealing with items such as crossbows. I have bought a crossbow previously online, admittedly from a different company, and this was the first time I had been asked to send a photo ID.

I'm not a naturally trusting soul, and in addition to the telephone checks, I also passed the URLs through a verification tool available online. These tools are free and easy to use. As with all things, it is wise to exercise due diligence when we navigate this difficult path called life. 

I was asked for feedback concerning my purchase experience. It was acknowledged that there was room for improvement, and my apposite comments will be passed on to the 'men in suits' or, more likely, placed in the filing receptacle labelled bin. 

Anyway, I have decided to share my email exchange for edification and training purposes. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

Random Gun Shop

Ref: 123XYZ 

Hi Flaxen Horatio,

Thank you for your purchase!

Due to the nature of your purchase, we are required by law to see proof you are over 18 years old.

Two ways you can provide the required information:
  • Reply to this email with an attached copy of your photo ID
  • Email sales@bouncybouncy.com with an attached copy of your photo ID
Note: You may be asked for ID by the courier driver on delivery
to 'The Team'
As requested, and required, please find attached a copy of my photo ID. As you will note, I possess a rare 
handsomeness rarely discerned or appreciated. The request for a photo ID raised concerns; initially,
I thought I was dealing with a Scam Email. My concerns are as follows: I've purchased crossbows online before
and have never been asked to provide a photo ID. My full name is Flaxen Horatio Saxon; however, in the second 
email, I was referred to as 'Flaxen Horatio'. In addition, the order number (W2978) differed from the original order
number (28576). Perhaps you could clarify in your purchase confirmation email that a photo ID would be required
and that you operate with a dual order number system- just a thought from a concerned customer. I have to say
that your employee, Alfred, was extremely helpful and provided impeccable assistance during our phone conversation.
Alfred was polite and professional while dealing with my bizarre and niche sense of humour; he should be highly 
commended. Mayhap a promotion is imminent. He seems the sort of man that I would like to introduce
to my beautiful daughter. If only I could remove her from the clutches of the idiot she is associating with now.
By the way, she is an English, blue-eyed blonde. A wonderful exposition of the 'English Rose'. Anyway,
on receipt of my ID, I would be eternally grateful if you could expedite my order forthwith; please excuse 
the redundant tautology.
Flaxen Saxon

Web Sales at Gun Shop Akimbo

Wed, Oct 25, 4:55 PM (5 days ago)
to me

Hi Flaxen, thank you for your feedback, thoughts, and, I must say, a wonderfully written text!

I will pass this on to the team and get this posted (and definitely will let Alfred know! 😉

Have a great evening.


Kind regards,
Telescope Mugumbp
Website Manager

The moral of the story: Don't eat soup with chopsticks      

Friday 20 October 2023

Swing to the Right

Vote Sausage!

And so, the folk of New Zealand have exercised their franchise in droves/dribbles, and the incumbent Labour Party has been ousted from its Prole position and no longer determines the fate of the Kiwi proletariat.  After 6 years of a lean to the left, the stage is set for a lurch to the right. National has taken its rightful place in the governmental position as deemed Right, unto God. And thus, the majority party will lead this proud nation to victory or oblivion according to the fickle fates that really dictate our pitiful existence ......

Labour's shameful tactics to seduce, nay entice, the young have been exposed for the pitiful pandering that they are. Giving away lots of free stuff to the young in exchange for their vote has seriously backfired. In the main, this is due to extreme apathy engrained within the very soul of the nation's youth, together with a deep-abiding inability to do anything but look inanely at a phone screen. Of course, National has been accused of using similar tactics to attract the Boomer vote. With an ageing population, all parties should take note: to ignore the grey folk is a route taken at their peril. The landslide for the Nats is a consequence of the Boomers getting on their mobility scooters and going full pelt/tilt unto the 'Voting Showers' (surely some mistake). 

So how did National pull off this lurid, fetid feat? First, they made sure their policies were available in large font. Second, they made great use of repetition. Addled brains struggle with mono-concepts- reiteration is the way to success! Labour tried to lure and seduce the young with free dental care. To be honest, that is quite a lure considering the cost of modern dentistry these days. But that was not enough to get them off their fat arses (Arse) and shuffle off to vote. National connected to the Boomer crowd by offering free automatic prostate drainage/massage devices together with a lifetime supply of chilblain unguent and ear trumpets. Hurrah, for hearing devices- who said dat?

Take Note: No one bothers to pander to the Middle Class - they no longer exist.

Personally, I eschew all mainstream parties and always vote for the National Bolshevists. The only party that guarantees the annexation of the Sudetenland and the reintroduction of bromine in the tap water. Furthermore, if elected, it will be mandatory for all males to undergo phrenology evaluation using calibrated calipers (tautology, mayhap?). For those who care, the results of my evaluation: apparently, I'm class: A021C8. Makes you think dun it?



Monday 16 October 2023

Pan's People

Hello Mom and Dad?

The title will only mean something to British folk of a certain age, and mostly men. Moving on. Actually, and on a serious note, I want to discuss the hypothesis of Panspermia. This hypothesis concerns the origin of life on Earth and proposes that perhaps our planet was 'seeded' by life from elsewhere in the universe. In its simplest form, imagine a wandering piece of rock out in the void of space. Imagine that the lump contains some form of simple life or proto-life. Somehow these life forms survive and remain viable in the inimical conditions of deep space- is it that farfetched?  We know, for instance, that many species of bacteria are able to form spores. Bacterial spores are extremely hardy and able to survive in the harshest of terrestrial environments awaiting reanimation thousands of years hence- or even longer. Experiments on the International Space Station have demonstrated that Tardigrades, a segmented micro-animal, can survive the cold and intense radiation of space, without a space suit.

I have never liked the Panspermia hypothesis due to the 'Cop-out Factor'. Panspermia avoids the difficult problem of how life actually came about from inanimate matter. Life just occurs elsewhere and then arrives on our planet to take hold and prosper. But maybe I have been a little hasty in my disdain for the hypothesis, and maybe it deserves a little more personal respect now I have thought about the problem more deeply.  

At least the hypothesis tackles the most difficult problem there is in modern biology: How did life occur on Earth in such a short time frame? The latest fossil evidence suggests that some form of life existed within just a few hundred million years after the earth cooled down sufficiently to support life. It is known that the Earth coalesced 4.5 billion years ago and that by 4.3 billion years, the planet had cooled to a condition where life could form and evolve. The oldest known fossils have been found in Australian rocks just 600 million years later. Life would have existed before then, perhaps many millions of years prior. And this is troublesome. How could life occur in just a short geological time span considering the complexity of the problem? Let us not underestimate the issue of complexity involved. For proto-life to occur, we require two complex chemical systems to form and interact in complex ways. I have discussed this elsewhere in more detail; go seek. I will not reiterate here. The fact that these highly complex processes could and did happen within the time frame available is nearly miraculous. And as my regular readership will have gathered, I have no truck with miracles. There has to be a rational explanation.        

There are several variants of the Panspermia hypothesis. The variant that intrigues me the most promotes the possibility that life began to coalesce early in the universe at large. The age of the universe has been estimated, using extrapolation, to be in the order of 13.8 billion years. However, recent evidence from the James Webb telescope suggests that the universe may be much older. Let us wait and see what follows. The data is raw and recent and therefore requires further examination and analysis. Regardless, it is important to acknowledge that the universe is a lot older than the Earth. Immediately after the 'Big Bang', the universe was extremely hot and raw. However, just a billion years later, the cosmos reached a balmy/barmy -253.15 C. It is reasonable to surmise that during the interlude between the Big Bang and 1 billion years, there would be a time when temperatures on random pieces of matter would be conducive to the development of life. A solvent would also be required to sustain the reactions. We immediately think of water, but there are other solvents that could serve the process, at least initially. Methane liquifies at a much lower temperature than water (-182 to -161C), thus providing a suitable sustaining environment in a frigid uncaring universe. There are other possible candidates, such as ethane. I'm perhaps erring on the flippant side, but the concept is solid, unlike the solvent. The point to be made, is that there would be innumerable 'domains' (mayhap infinite?) available for this illimitable cosmic experiment. The time available for this to occur is open to speculation, but at least 12 billion years would be accessible. This highly speculative model allows a vast theatre of time and space for the formation of life to occur. Under such conditions, life could come forth from multiple points, over multiple eons.  

Imagine a simple, basic life form transformed into a hardy spore buried deep within the rocky envelope of an asteroid. It wanders the cosmos for an indeterminable time until it meets the gravitational field of our home. It roars through the primitive atmosphere to arrive blackened and seared and finally quenched within a vast ocean. There the spore awakens and develops anew in a foreign environment/experiment. It would take but one 'seed' to set the process of reproduction and natural selection to progress. The rest is just the history of life on Earth.

The advantage of this particular flavour of Panspermia is that the factor of time and space is not limited to a small sphere of rock containing dihydrogen oxide put together a mere 4.5 billion years ago. The whole universe becomes the infinite, moist, progenitor vat enshrined within the web of spacetime.

Anyway, back to the title. Pans People: the wet dream of British adolescents circa 1971. Take it away, girls. There is no doubt that the choreography was shit, but we didn't care, probably because we had too much testosterone coursing through our veins and didn't know the meaning of choreography. Arse.