Grumpy Cat shows that when you have the right attitude, you will go far (LOL).
Well, well, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, one of the tourist attractions in my area, is going high-tech.
Before I begin, I want to take a moment to remember all the troops, sailors and pilots on this Memorial Day. Thank you for your service. And for those who have fallen in the line of duty, we can’t thank you enough.
You may know that I have some off-topic stuff in a folder on The Xenophile Historian, which you can reach from a page named Just For Fun. There you can look at funny pages, pictures and jokes. Now, because I have started posting links to YouTube videos on some of the history pages, I have created a page with links to all my favorite videos that are both funny and history-related.
I won’t talk about which videos are linked to the page; if you’re a regular reader, chances are you have seen them already. Just click on the link below (you’ll need a broadband connection, of course), watch and enjoy!
Last night I got a phone call at 10:49 PM. Mind you, it’s never a good sign when you get a call that late; it could be an emergency from Leive’s family in the Philippines. It turned out to be the India-based company that tried to scam me six months ago. This time they masked their phone number as 253-802-0309. My guess is that they want me to think they’re from Microsoft, by using a number with a Washington State area code. Aside from that, their pitch was the same.
To make sure that none of you fall for this trick, I’m going to re-post what I wrote about it last November 30. Quote:
Phishing can happen over the phone, as well as by e-mail. Case in point: Recently I got a strange phone call that showed up on my caller ID as 202-011-3341. When I answered it, a guy with a heavy Indian accent told me he was from "Microsoft Windows Help," claimed that my computer was infected with a virus, and that I needed to turn it on.
I hung up after arguing for half a minute. Too many warning signals were touched off by that call. First, there were too many voices in the background; it sounded more like a boiler room operation than your typical customer service center. Second, in the past I have gotten technical support from an Indian company called iYogi, but when they call, they use a toll-free number, not a number from the 202 area code. IYogi’s technicians speak better English, too. Third, no American phone number starts with a zero; they probably masked the real number from my caller ID. Fourth, I have used Microsoft products since the mid-1990s, but I can’t remember Microsoft ever calling me; I always called them.
Just to be on the safe side, I gave my computer a complete virus scan afterwards. It didn’t surprise me a bit when no bugs or malware turned up. I also Googled the phone number, and found others reporting it as coming from a scam artist. I’m sure that if I had complied with the caller’s demands, they would have taken control of my computer, for whatever mischief they had in mind.
Aside from the phisher calling me, this is the same type of scam as phishing by e-mail; the goal is identity theft, or to infect another computer. Fortunately my antivirus software is up to date, and I have identity theft protection for a worst case scenario.
Unquote: This time I dragged them out, telling them I don’t believe them and that I plan to get my attorney on this, until they hung up. That may be the best solution, if you can’t fight them; as long as one of them is talking to you, he cannot be fooling anyone else. Still, with my membership in LegalShield & Kroll, it’s worth a try to see if I can sue someone outside the country, or sic the Feds on them. After all, they’re breaking more than one law by calling someone on the “Do Not Call” list so late.
I just read about two cases in the early twentieth century where Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini narrowly escaped with their lives. What a moral dilemma; would not pulling the trigger have been a better choice than pulling the trigger? Needless to say, they will get footnotes in Chapter 14 of my European history, once I decide where to put them. Here they are:
1. Here is a great “What if?” situation, for those who like to speculate on how history could have been different. On September 29, 1918, the British liberated Marcoing, a small French town. The hero of that battle was Private Henry Tandey, a veteran of several other World War I battles, including Ypres in 1914, the Somme and Passchendaele. Twenty-seven-year-old Tandey saved the day for the British by taking out a German machine gun nest, and then he repaired a bridge so that his buddies could use it. While doing this he was still under fire from the Germans, and took a couple of hits himself. Nevertheless, he continued marching to Marcoing, and on the way, a wounded German soldier with a big mustache came into view. Tandey raised his rifle at the German, who seemed to know his time was up. Suddenly, Tandey decided there had been enough killing, and couldn’t bring himself to shoot a wounded man; he put the rifle down, and the German nodded in thanks and got out of there.
King George V awarded Tandey the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest medal for valor, but in the long run, sparing an enemy soldier undid all his other achievements, for the German he let go was Adolf Hitler. After that, Hitler often talked about how “providence” had saved him to do great things, and eventually he acquired a copy of a painting of Tandey at Ypres, carrying a wounded soldier. When Neville Chamberlain met Hitler in 1938, Hitler showed him the painting, said that was the man who almost shot him, and asked the prime minister to take a kind message to Tandey. Chamberlain did, giving Tandey a phone call after he returned to London. Of course Tandey wasn’t happy to learn that his act of kindness had led to all the unpleasantness of the late 1930s and 40s, but by then he was too old and had too many injuries to re-enlist in the army. What would you have done, if the decision not to shoot someone would cause terrible things to happen in the future?
2. One person who definitely did not approve of Mussolini was Violet Gibson, the Anglo-Irish daughter of the First Lord Ashbourne. Ireland’s struggle for independence had made Gibson an Irish nationalist, so she took a liberal stand on other issues as well, meaning that she saw Mussolini’s dictatorship as moving in the wrong direction. One day in 1926, while Mussolini was the star of a parade in Rome, Gibson fired three shots at him, but he only suffered a minor wound to the nose. The police took her away before the angry mob tore her to pieces, and because Mussolini was very popular at that point, everyone decided that she must be insane, and worked alone. Gibson was never charged with a crime, put on trial, or imprisoned, but the result was the same; she was confined to a mental asylum in England until she died in 1956.
This is the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend, and for many Americans, it is the unofficial beginning of summer. That made sense when I lived in Florida; by the second half of May, we would be getting the full heat of summer, though the afternoon thunderstorm cycle usually would not kick in until June.
In past years in Kentucky, we’d usually have it warm on Memorial Day, though not blazing hot like Florida; the temperature would be in the 80s. This year, however, it sure doesn’t feel like summer is around the corner. A weak cold front came in on Wednesday night, meaning that it got down to a chilly 48 degrees last night. For most of today it was in the 60s, so I didn’t need a jacket while I was out, but tonight it could get as low as 43. By contrast, when I checked the weather for the part of Florida where I used to live, it was 96 this afternoon!
I have always liked turtles, so I am surprised I did not know about this holiday sooner. In Florida, for instance, I encountered turtles quite often. I remember in particular a gopher tortoise that came from the vacant lot across the street, to visit my front yard. This was at the height of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle craze, and because the TMNTs were named after Italian artists, I named the tortoise Giotto; his personality was two-dimensional, like Giotto’s paintings (LOL).
(This picture, of a green turtle getting cleaned off by fish near Hawaii, was posted on Bing.com today.)
I have wondered out loud why liberal politicians continue to do well in so many elections, when people on the right side of the political aisle tend to be better looking. Especially those of the female persuasion. There are a few comparative pictures like the one below, to make that point; I posted it on this commentary page.
Now it turns out that a country musician named Austin Cunningham agrees, because a few months back, he recorded a video called “The Girls On Fox News.” It hits close enough to the mark that the liberals who have seen the video are debating whether it is a real tribute or a parody. They’re also saying some nasty things about the girls in question. Are they just jealous because they have to use hags like Roseanne Arnold and Rosie O’Donnell to express their point of view? Or is this an example of the statement “I know by their yelling that I have hit them right?”
1. Duct tape won’t fix that.
2. Honey, I think we should sell the pickup and buy a family sedan.
3. We don’t keep firearms in this house.
4. I thought Graceland was tacky.
5. We’re vegetarians.
6. I’ll have grapefruit and grapes instead of biscuits and gravy.
7. Who cares who won the Civil War?
8. I just couldn’t find a thing at Wal-Mart today.
9. Trim the fat off that steak.
10. Unsweetened tea tastes better.
11. Does the salad bar have bean sprouts?
12. I don’t have a favorite college team.
It was on this day in 2006 that my life in Florida ended, and I moved to Kentucky. It is 10:30 PM as I write this, and at that time I was at the halfway point between Orlando and Lexington, spending the night in a run-down motel in Forsyth, Georgia. I won’t say I’ve been in Kentucky for seven years, though, because of the job that took me to Connecticut for ten and a half months.
Today it felt a lot like Florida. With outside (and inside) temperatures in the 80s, it was about as ideal as it could get for Leive and I, inasmuch as that was the kind of heat we were used to in the old country. In the morning I had a doctor’s appointment. Don’t worry, it was a routine checkup, and I got a clean bill of health.
But while I was in there, I talked with one of the nurses; I happened to mention that I used to live in Florida, and she said she was there once. But oh, what an experience she had! It turns out she went to visit her cousin in Gibsonton, and that is the only part of the state she got a good look at. For those not familiar with Florida, Gibsonton is a small town southeast of Tampa, a retirement community for circus freaks. She claimed they treated her well, because she is black and there were no blacks living in Gibsonton; that surprised me, because in the rest of Florida, the population is about 1/5 African-American. Still, a place full of freaks was too crazy for her. I told the nurse she should have at least visited Tampa, because the people are more normal there. A few months ago, I wrote an essay on why Florida appears to be the weirdest state; from that nurse’s perspective, Florida must be even weirder.
On the other hand, Kentucky has its weird moments, too. The above picture of a “math lab bust” appeared on a local TV station last week. In other messages on this blog I told how Lexington is an overgrown college town; the University of Kentucky owns a big chunk, maybe a quarter of the city, we are preoccupied with UK sports, and another school of higher learning, Transylvania University, is based here. Still, a news story about cops arresting people for dabbling with math should confirm the suspicion outsiders have of Kentucky, about how we don’t consider education very important.