Category Archives: Cunning Scheme

Dance-Powered Pile Driver

Seen in Thailand.

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Computer Programmer Fired for Outsourcing his Job to China

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It was revealed in the security audit of a major, yet unnamed, American software company that one of their star developers had outsourced his work to China at a cost of 1/5th of his (6-figure) salary, allowing him to do whatever he felt like at work.

The analysis of his workstation found hundreds of PDF invoices from the Chinese contractors and determined that Bob’s typical work day consisted of:

9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos

11:30 a.m. – Take lunch

1:00 p.m. – Ebay time

2:00-ish p.m – Facebook updates, LinkedIn

4:30 p.m. – End-of-day update e-mail to management

5:00 p.m. – Go home

The scheme worked very well for Bob. In his performance assessments by the firm’s human resources department, he was the firm’s top coder for many quarters and was considered expert in C, C++, Perl, Java, Ruby, PHP, and Python.

Further investigation found that the enterprising Bob had actually taken jobs with other firms and had outsourced that work too, netting him hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit as well as lots of time to hang around on internet messaging boards and checking for a new Detective Mittens video.

Security Audit Finds Dev Outsourced his Job to China to Goof Off at Work   [theRegister]

Hurricane House

 

This ‘hurricane house’ was designed by New York-based architect Edwin Koch in 1939. According to Popular Science, “[t]his amazing dwelling would revolve automatically to face into the oncoming storm, meeting it like the wing of an airplane and passing it smoothly around its curving sides toward its pointed tip.” It was designed to pivot around a master point in the middle of the house through which electricity, water and sewage could be routed.

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How to Be a Parent

 

On Reddit, someone reports that their (presumably teenage) sister had her phone taken away for a week by their parents as a punishment. Not only, however, was her phone confiscated. They’ve also been using it to upload a series of self-portraits like the above to her Facebook page.

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Robbing Banks is a Crappy Way to Make a Living

A study commissioned by the Royal Statistical Society and American Statistical Association has offered me some very disappointing news: robbing banks isn’t a very good way to make a living. They even described the returns as ‘rubbish’. In a summary of the paper, John Timmer writes:

The basic problem is the average haul from a bank job: for the three-year period, it was only £20,330.50 (~$31,613). And it gets worse, as the average robbery involved 1.6 thieves. So the authors conclude, “The return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish. It is not unimaginable wealth. It is a very modest £12,706.60 per person per raid.”

“Given that the average UK wage for those in full-time employment is around £26,000, it will give him a modest life-style for no more than 6 months,” the authors note. If a robber keeps hitting banks at a rate sufficient to maintain that modest lifestyle, by a year and a half into their career, odds are better than not they’ll have been caught. “As a profitable occupation, bank robbery leaves a lot to be desired.”

Worse still, the success of a robbery was a bit like winning the lottery, as the standard deviation on the £20,330.50 was £53,510.20. That means some robbers did far better than average, but it also means that fully a third of robberies failed entirely.

Economists Demonstrate Exactly Why Bank Robbery is a Bad Idea   [ArsTechnica]

Clever Sucker-Bets

From Richard Wiseman, here are 10 bets you’ll never lose. I especially like number 10!

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Presidential Crossword

The day before the 1996 American presidential elections, the New York Times crossword correctly predicted the winner. How did they do it? The answer is here.

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Stranger Moves Into Foreclosed Home, Citing Obscure Law

A man has moved into a $330K home in Texas citing an obscure law called, ‘adverse possession’. All told, it cost him $16 in paperwork.

“This is not a normal process, but it is not a process that is not known,” he said. “It’s just not known to everybody.”

He says an online form he printed out and filed at the Denton County courthouse for $16 gave him rights to the house. The paper says the house was abandoned and he’s claiming ownership.

“I added some things here for my own protection,” Robinson said.

The house is virtually empty, with just a few pieces of furniture. There is no running water or electricity.

But, Robinson said just by setting up camp in the living room, Texas law gives him exclusive negotiating rights with the original owner. If the owner wants him out, he would have to pay off his massive mortgage debt and the bank would have to file a complicated lawsuit.

Robinson believes because of the cost, neither is likely. The law says if he stays in the house, after three years he can ask the court for the title.

However, his neighbours are very, very upset at the thought of someone getting for free what they had to pay hundreds of thousands for and have even tried to have the police remove him from the premises. Alas, home ownership is considered a civil matter leaving the officers no recourse.

Stranger Moves into Foreclosed Home, Citing Little-Known Texas Law   [KHOU]

How to Deactivate a Cat

According to Pozza, M. E., J. L. Stella, et al. (2008). “Pinch-induced behavioral inhibition (‘clipnosis’) in domestic cats.” J Feline Med Surg 10(1): 82-7:

There has been much interest in using mechanical inhibition for gentle restraint of rabbits, rodents, mice and guinea pigs. In these species, immobility is induced using neck clips or inversion. Although it has not received much interest, there have been reports of immobilizing cats by placing clips along the dorsal midline or neck for short procedures such as blood sampling. The authors have coined the term “pinch-induced behavioral inhibition” (PIBI) or “clipnosis” to describe this method of restraint. In this project, the effectiveness of PIBI was evaluated in 13 healthy cats and 18 cats with idiopathic cystitis (IC) using standard two-inch binder clips from a stationery store. In the first month of the study, 92% of the healthy cats and 100% of the cats with IC responded positively to clipping. The physiological response to clipping was similar to that of scruffing a cat – miosis, ventroflexion of the back, curling the tail under the abdomen. While clips can be placed anywhere along the dorsal midline, the authors recommend the dorsum of the neck as the most effective location. No cat exhibited behavior that could be interpreted as a fear or pain response. The researchers concluded that PIBI can be a safe and effective method of gentle restraint for various routine veterinary procedures, such as blood sampling, vaccinations, and nail trimming.

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WBC Used to Train FBI Agents in Dealing with Extremists

The FBI has enlisted the services of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church in a counterterrorism training program aimed at teaching to agents “how to stay measured when they are speaking with a witness or a suspect with whom they have a strong, visceral disagreement.” Members of the WBC were invited in to talk with FBI agents, not knowing the real reason they were there:

Yet the FBI recently invited leaders of the fundamentalist church to the Quantico Marine base in Virginia to talk to FBI agents as part of the bureau’s counterterrorism training program. But after four sessions this spring, the FBI canceled the arrangement amid criticism from inside the bureau, while church leaders claimed that they had been misled.

The church group, led by Pastor Fred Phelps and based in Topeka, Kan., says its protests are intended to tell the world that God is punishing the U.S. military for America’s tolerance of homosexuality. The pastor claims to be the prophet of God’s wrath.

The FBI first invited the church group to address the FBI’s law enforcement training classes back in 2008. And initially, there were no apparent problems. But the most recent sessions, including three at Quantico and one in Manassass, Va., stirred up controversy.

FBI Invited Controversial Church to Talk to Agents   [NPR]