Montparnasse, 1895



“The Gare Montparnasse became famous for the derailment on 22 October 1895 of the Granville–Paris Express, which overran the buffer stop. The engine careered across almost 30 meters (100 ft) of the station concourse, crashed through a 60-cm (2 ft) thick wall, shot across a terrace and smashed out of the station, plummeting onto the Place de Rennes 10 meters (33 ft) below, where it stood on its nose. Two of the 131 passengers sustained injuries, along with the fireman and two conductors. The only fatality was a woman on the street below, Marie-Augustine Aguilard, who was temporarily taking over her husband’s work duty while he went out to get the newspapers. She was killed by falling masonry. The railway company later paid for her funeral and provided a pension to look after her two children. The accident was caused by a faulty Westinghouse brake and the engine driver, who was trying to make up lost time. A conductor was given a 25-franc fine and the engine driver a 50-franc fine.” (Wikipedia)



The Montparnasse wreck recreated at The Mundo a Vapor (“Steam World”) museum in Brazil.



A happier train wreck (From “Silver Streak”)

The Old Wolf has spoken.

With great counsel and great deliberation.

Over at Reality Sandwich, Charles Eisenstein takes on the question of “Bombs, Badguys, and the Brink of Peace.” In his excellent article, he examines why the American public is so unenthusiastic about getting involved in Syria; he answers his own question with “Perhaps what we are weary of is the whole concept of war, the mindset of war, and the worldview underlying the waging of war.”

It would only be about time.

Think about it – our nation was founded in 1776, and since then, only a handful of years – 21, to be precise – have passed that we have not been involved in some bloody conflict or other.



That’s a pretty disgraceful showing for a nation that claims to love peace and freedom.

It can be argued that some of these conflicts were about peace and freedom, and there may even have been long-term historical justification for our involvement in some of them. But there have been far too many that didn’t involve us at all, those for which the only justification seemed to be the desire for lucre on the part of war profiteers.

It’s time we took a good hard look, as a nation, at who is calling to unleash the dogs of war, and why. Frankly, I am tired of seeing our country’s precious resources thrown away on the science of death and destruction, in the name of causes which seem to make no sense to people struggling to find work, to educate their children in substandard schools, or to get decent healthcare.

Geoffrey Chaucer, who lived from 1342 – 1400, wrote some powerful words in his “Tale of Melibee:”

Up roos tho oon of thise olde wise, and with his hand made contenaunce that men sholde holden hem stille and yeven hym audience. “Lordynges,” quod he, “ther is ful many a man that crieth ‘Werre! Werre! that woot ful litel what werre amounteth. Werre at his bigynnyng hath so greet an entryng and so large, that every wight may entre whan hym liketh, and lightly fynde werre; but certes what ende that shal therof bifalle, it is nat light to knowe. For soothly, whan that werre is ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child unborn of his mooder that shal sterve yong by cause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in sorwe and dye in wrecchednesse. And therfore, er that any werre bigynne, men moste have greet conseil and greet deliberacion. Up rose then one of these old wise men, and with his hand made a sign that the people should hold themselves still and give him audience. “Lords,” he said, “there are many men who cry ‘War! War!’ who know very little what war amounts to. War at its beginning has so great an entry and so large that every creature may enter when it pleases him, and lightly find war; but surely what end that shall come of it, it is not easy to know. For truly, once that war has begun, there are many children unborn of his mother that shall die young because of this war, or else live in sorrow and die in wretchedness. And therefore, before any war might begin, people must have great counsel and great deliberation.”

Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, “The Tale of Melibee,” §17.

Those who call for war may prate noble ideals and national interests and safety and security, but in the back of their mind they are thinking continued employment, campaign contributions from arms makers and materiel suppliers, advancement of political careers, or direct profits from the sale of implements of destruction. Nobody at this level seems to care about the human cost: the death of innocents, the destruction of property and infrastructure, the oppression of populations, genocides, refugees, pestilences, and the waste of precious resources. All of this is swept under the rug, ignored in the beating of drums and the rattling of sabers and dreams of glory, honor, and riches.

♫ Come and sing a simple song of freedom
Sing it like you’ve never sung before
Let it fill the air
Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war. ♫

The word of Bobby Darin’s song have never been more appropriate than they are today. American involvement in Syria is overwhelmingly unpopular, with 50% opposed outright to any involvement, and 80% convinced that the president needs congressional approval before moving forward with any entanglement, according to a recent Reuters poll. Yet despite these numbers, the American populace is being systematically ignored by its leadership. How can the people of our country support an executive branch that is so out of tune with their wishes? Well, the simple truth is that they can’t; President Obama’s approval ratings are in freefall.

The people of our nation – the ones living now, and the ones yet to be born – deserve much better than we are offering them. Our economy is a shambles, our healthcare – whose quality is among the best in the world – is essentially unaffordable, and our education system is rotten to its very foundation [1]. Yes, all things are relative: this is not Somalia or Egypt or Albania or Congo, where life is a hell of a lot more difficult and frightening and dangerous, but the fact remains that we have the resources to do a lot better… and we’re not doing it.

I know I speak for a majority of my fellow Americans when I confirm that we are tired of war. We want peace, we want prosperity, we want jobs, we want secure retirements, we want clean water, we want secure mortgages, we want bridges and roads and schools and hospitals and doctors that don’t bankrupt you for a single illness. That’s what we want, and I feel as though our nation is plunging headlong toward a major tipping point. To use a cinematic metaphor, this isn’t as good as it’s going to get, and something’s gotta give.

If our leaders don’t start listening, they will fall. The people still have a vote. But it’s getting dicier than that. Elections only happen on schedule, and the people are getting more and more impatient. I sincerely wonder how long our leaders can keep throwing hot coals upon the heads of the American people before they start a fire that they are unable to put out.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] I’m not counting the army of diligent and hopeful teachers who continue to soldier on in the most adverse of conditions, because they love teaching and love their classes and want to make a difference in their lives; I’m talking about the administrative morass through which they are being asked to slog, starting with the government and oozing down through school boards and school administrations and teachers’ unions who are more concerned with protecting their fiefdoms than they are about really educating kids.

A conversation with Mr. Zhang Yong, a Chinese Scammer

As I have done before, I have had some fun wasting a scammer’s time.
Lesson No. 1 – Don’t mess with retired people: we have the time to make your life miserable.
Blue text: My communications with the scammer
Green Text: My commentary

Here is the first email I received from “Mr. Zhang Yong.”
Mr. Zhang Yong <> (email address no. 1)

I business have a proposal of you

Well, and what?

Mr.Zhang Yong <> (email address no. 2)

Bank of China Tower,
1 Garden Road,Hong Kong,Chin

Attention: Please

I am Mr Zhang Yong the manager Audit & Accounts dept. in Bank Of Bank of Asia (China) I am writing to request your assistance to transfer the sum of $9,300,000.00 (Nine Million, Three Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) into your accounts.The above sum belongs to our deceased customer late Mr. Hamadi Hashem Ahelbarra from Iraqi who died along with his entire family during the war in a bomb blast that hit his home at Mukaradeeb and since then the fund has been in a suspend seaccount.My purpose of contacting you now is this: My bank during the last executive board meeting resolved that if by the end of this year and there is no beneficiary to the said account, the account will be confiscated and the fund sent to the bank treasury and this is where I am interested in and wants you to come in:I want you to come in as the Next of Kin/Beneficiary to this account. I have all the titled documents to back your claim and as the Manager of this branch, it is in my power to carry out any form of verification on the beneficiary of the said fund and process the fund wire without any problem. I want you to know that this is legal, 100% risk free as all the titled documents would be changed to your name as the new beneficiary of the said funds, and the fund wired to any bank account you wish to have it wired to.

Please note we shall share in the ratio of 60% for me, 40% for you. When the fund finally gets to your nominated bank account.Thank you so much for your prompt reply to my mail. First let me state once again that I have been prompted to trust you and will depend on you to show me maximum trust, confidentiality and above all follow my instruction strictly. As you will understand the transaction is 100% success assured in as much as you follow my instructions, within a period of 5 banking days we will finish all the documentary aspect of this transaction and money transferred.I will demand that you give me the privilege to handle the whole issue with my professional experience and position. I have to at this point ask for your sincere confidentiality, please assure me this and keep to it that the next person to you do not know about this transaction as we have to keep it highly confidential. You should know that I am working with the bank and a manager in that matter hence my position and job will be at risk should anybody know from your end.The basic requirement here is that as you will know I do not want to let my bank know I am behind the transfer so all our communications will be restricted to email. I want to make something clear to you, the fact that I am the manager Audit of this branch does not guarantee the security of this transaction, whatever we are doing must be done under a very high level of confidentiality. We must pretend we do not know each other, you must never mention my name to any staff of my bank during and after this transaction. This is for our security and safety of this transaction.The issue of documentation is no problem; I will handle that as soon as we commence the transfer process. I reside in the banking quarters here in Huayuanshiqiao,Shanghai (China),and would want us to meet but our meeting will be under a very high surveillance to avoid being seen together until this is over. My bank has some secret security officers that monitor my movement as senior bank executive and I must play safe to avoid being interrogated. I am an American by birth and was transfer here in China from our head branch in Hong Kong. I am ready for this deal to be accomplished and I wish so from you. My bank will have this approved since everything about this deposit is with me and the fund in my branch.On no account must you discuss this with anyone; whatever you want to ask me please do that by email and I will answer you immediately. The fund would be transferred through a more secured telegraphic wire transfer means with evidence proving the genuine source of the fund and you as the legitimate beneficiary of the fund and no government agency can stand against it. With my experience as a banker in financial matters, I will handle this.Please get back to me today with the above stated information so that I will be able to extract the deposit agreement and then make official application of the claim in your name and submit it to the board that meets once every week. As soon as I receive your assurance along with the information above, I will advice you on what next to do. For any question you may want to ask please send it to me by email, I am very ready to answer them. I am guaranteed that they will give the approval instantly as the money is in my branch. I do not want to write so much on the procedure so that you will not be confused but I inform you that it is simple and fast. I will be waiting to hear from you today, respond to me today if you can so we can proceed with information below..

Your Full Name……………………….
Your Sex…………………………….
Your Age……………………………
Your Address…………………………
Marital Status…………………..
Your Occupation……………………..
Your Personal Mobile Number………………..
Your Personal Fax Number…………………..Your Prompt response to this letter will be appreciated.

Zhang Yong

MR ZHANG YONG <> (email address no. 3)

Did you get my proposal

Dear Mr. Zhang Yong:

I have received your proposal. I have studied it carefully. Here is the information you requested:

Your Full Name…………..Wolfington X. Analemma…………..
Your Sex…………..Male……………….
Your Age………….55………………..
Your Address…………850 Bryant St., #525 San Francisco, CA 94103………………
Marital Status………Single…………..
Your Occupation………..Investment Banker……………
Your Personal Mobile Number……415-553-0123…………..
Your Personal Fax Number……….415-553-0778………….
(Note that these are phone numbers and addresses for the San Francisco Police Department.)

MR. ZHANG YONG <> (email address no. 4)

Bank of China Tower,
1 Garden Road, Hong Kong, China

Dear Wolfington X. Analemma,

Thank you very much for your response, Like I said before, due to this issue on my hands now, it became necessary for me to seek your assistance, I appreciate the fact that you are ready to assist me in executing this project, and also to help me in investing my money in your country. You should not have anything to worry about. I will do everything legally required to ensure that the project goes smoothly, it shall pass through all Laws of International Banking.
Having resolved to entrust this project into your hands, I want to remind you that, it needs your commitment and diligence. If you work seriously, the entire matter should be over in a couple of few days. There is no cause for you to be on Red-alert but to act in accordance with my instructions.


Firstly, I would like to know the type of occupation that you do and how old you are (age). You should note that this project is a Capital intensive. This is why I have to be very careful. I need your total devotion and trust to see this through. I know we have not met before, but I am very confident that we will be able to establish the necessary trust that is needed to execute this project. I am now in contact with a foreign online bank. The money would be transferred out of my bank with your details as the next of kin, to the foreign online bank, as this would conceal the Transactions from my Bank and other Government authorities. I am undertaking the necessary measures to enable us complete our Transaction without it be traced back to us. So you should listen to my instructions and follow them Caution. You have to know that I cannot transfer this money in my name as my bank will be aware that it is from me and that is void you would fill.

I will obtain a certificate of deposit from my bank; it will be issued in your name. This will make you the bonfire owner of the funds. After this, the money will be banked online for both of us.
We can then instruct the bank to transfer our various shares into our respective home bank accounts. I will also perfect the documentations with the assistance of my attorney to give the project the legal right.

I will need you to send me a copy of any form of your identification (Driver’s license or International passport)the way I just sent you my own also, Please I also want you to send your picture with your family picture so that we both can be fully trusted in the Blood Just for me to trust you because I don’t want us to talk on phone to avoid trace..

I want to be sure that I am transacting with the correct person. As soon as I get these from you, I will commence the paper work.
I hope you will understand why I need all these. The money in question is big and I want to ensure that I know you well before I proceed to give you all the details to commence the project.
I have attached copies of my identification so that you can as well know who you are dealing with. I have also attached my family picture so that you can know them better.

I am a married man with a lovely wife and 3 children and I am more than glad to execute this beneficial transaction with you.

I have instructed my attorney to carry on with the paper work and I was notified that the certificate of deposit which will make you the original beneficiary of the funds, when it is prepared. As soon as I receive the certificate of deposit from my attorney, I will send it to you to sign and return.
Please get back to with your requested Identification copy.
So at this junction, I will keep you updated as soon as I hear from my attorney.

Ensure that you keep this project confidential; do not discuss it with anybody, because of the confidential nature of this project and my work.
Please reply soonest.

Kind Regards
Zhang Yong

Here are the photos and documents that Mr. Scammer attached:

me & my Family on dinning table

my family

Myself myfamily and pa and ma

Working ID

Dear Mr. Zhang Yong,
Thank you for your information. I have attached a family picture and my California Driver’s license for your perusal.
My real name is Christian D. Sanders – I use Wolfington X. Analemma on the internet to avoid fraud, but I feel confident now in giving you my actual name.
I am 55 years old, and I work as an investment banker in the San Francisco office of Goldman Sachs
I look forward to your communication.
Sanders Driver License
Sanders Family
Hey, if he can use stock photos, so can I. I photoshopped in a face that I have typically used for these scammers.

MR.ZHANG YONG <> (email address no. 5)

Dear Partner.

Thank you very much my dear partner. I want to quickly appreciate the copy of your picture identity to me and inform you that I’m very serious about what I intend doing in your country. You have really gotten my confidentiality in you. I can now deal with you without entertaining any fear of whether you will run away with the deposited funds when it finally enters your account.

I am very happy that you are willing to assist me in securing the deposited funds that is presently in our vault here in my bank. I honestly want to trust you as I will do everything possible for us to have a better life to live with this money we are about to share.

I have every information’s that will make you the true inheritance of these funds but you will do me one thing, to have everything done in secret without telling or informing any person until the  money gets to us.

I will want us to invest the money in a venture that will profit both of us. I may also relocate to your country to avoid suspicion from my bank’s officials here in China. I will provide you detailed information of the modalities involved in completing this transaction within (5) working days. Be aware that this transaction is very safe and 100% risk free and as such I expect you to put in all your efforts in this transaction so that we can transfer the 9.3 million out of my bank to you without any problem. For your information, I will like to make you understand the nature of this transaction will not encourage the state of unserious partner if you can afford the expenses involve during the time of collection or transfer (I mean its will cost you little at the point of collection from your end), kindly let me know if you are ready to proceed with me in this transaction, I am very sure the expenses will not be much. The attorney’s charges and the paper work will be taken care off by me.

You are to please assure me that the funds will be safe with you when it is transferred to you because I am planning to resign as soon as we complete this transaction, if you decide to run away with the funds there is nothing I can do than to leave all my life here in China after retirement this is because you have assured me to assist me that is why I am resigning. And also you are going to let me know the way of life of your people, their culture, tradition and more so that I can start imagining myself leaving already with you. However, I want to quickly find out from you if your account is big enough to take the 9.3 million that is coming to you, and how costly is a house in your country, as this will give me a guard line in making up my plans of coming to join you up. You will need to help me get a place where I and my family will be putting up as soon as the funds get to you.

I really want to go into partnership with you but you will have to advise me and pre-informed me on a venture that is very profitable as soon as you can so that I will be ready here and be equipping with the type of business I am coming to do in your country. You do not seems to know what both of us are about to going to gain, I have planned everything out for you to secure the funds and we will have this funds in your possession without any problem but you will still have to spend a little at the point of collection that is exactly how it see now.

I have called my attorney to prepare the documents that we make you the real depositor of the said funds in my branch, as soon as he gets that done I will let you have a look at it and you will
have to sign the deposit receipt and send it back to me, then I will deposit it to my bank for then to release the funds to you, Please do not swing me over after you have receive these funds.
Meanwhile, I will furnish you with the processes as time goes on.

Should you have any question, kindly let me know.

Kind Regards
Zhang Yong

It will be good to proceed as you have suggested. My bank is prepared to receive the funds.



Thank you very much for the kind hearted email and that you are willing to help me carry out this project of mine and i promised you that you will never regret the you replied my email and accepted my proposal.

I am in receipt of your mail and the words in the contents made me happy that I finally got the right person for my proposal. As you have stated in your email that all monetary assets pertaining to this venture are confidently secure and that you are going to search for a business that will profit both of us. I will so much appreciate if you could start searching for a very nice four bed house with a very big garden located in a quiet environment conducive for learning.
In my last email to you, I make you understand the nature of this transaction will not encourage the state of un-serious partner if you can afford the expenses involve during the time of collection or transfer (I mean its will cost you little at the point of collection from your pocket), kindly let me know if you are ready to proceed with me in this transaction, I am very sure the expenses will not be much.

The attorney’s charges and the paper work will be taken care off by me.
Please note: The officials from our correspondent bank in Asia,India where our funds will be transfer to with your name as the new beneficiary to the inherited funds we ask you to open an offshore account (that is a dollar account) with them because our funds is in U.S dollars so you must be advised to create an offshore account of that kind so that our funds can have a foundation for

transfer to you and this is what i meant by (I mean its will cost you little at the point of collection from your pocket) in my last email and this is all i request from you now that both of us are about going to execute this project I would advise that you must have to keep it yourself alone, the wise man in this kind of proposal must be very discreet. I want us to enjoy the funds in peace, it is very good that it is only me here in my bank that knows about this transaction and as such we will not have any problem as far as you follow my instructions.
I will be here to advise you when we get to that stage may while my attorney is still working on the document needed to effect the transfer and make the deal legal.

Your 100% assistance will definitely make my plans work out. Please let us put our heads together as a team and rejoice at the end. The attorney charged me $172,000 to carry out the transaction but
i have already paid $122,000. I am looking for a way to borrow the balance money to make up the attorney charges for the documentation that will make you the real owner of the funds, as i do not want to bother you with that at all.
I will send you the documents from my attorney shortly as soon as i get it from him.

Kind Regards
Zhang Yong

I am waiting for your documents.


My dear friend and partner,
I have received the Certificate Of Deposit and affidavit of ownership of funds that will make you the original beneficiary of the funds from my attorney right now and I have attached both to this mail. I will appreciate you to sign at the bottom were you have beneficiary signature for both. Please i will appreciate you to do that ASAP and send back the Certificate to me the way I have sent it to you.
Please I’m counting on you, do not swing me over after the successful transfer of this funds to your account because if you do, all my dream in life will be chattered as you know i will be resigning  from my bank work as soon as the funds is be transfer out.
On receipt of the signed certificate of Deposit from you, i will transfer the funds {9.3 million dollars} out of my bank with your details as the beneficiary of the funds to the corresponding security financial bank in India. As soon as the funds get to the financial India, The bank will be in touch with you, either via phone or email, to let you know that they have your funds and also ask you how you wish to receive your funds from them and do please note that the 5th June 2001 was the day the said funds was deposited in my bank branch here in China.
Be rest assured that everything has been legally taken care of with the help of my attorney. Do get back asap with the documents to me.
Thank you.
Zhang Yong
So he attached these lovely official documents for me to complete and sign.

Dear Mr. Zhang Yong,

Please find attached the documents you requested, which I have signed. Per your previous request, I also recommend this delightful property for your consideration:
Inline image 1
I await your further details.
(I fill out the documents with bogus information and send them back to him.)


Dear Partner,

Congratulations my partner.
As regards our transaction, I have successfully transferred the funds {9.3 million dollars} out of my bank with your details as the beneficiary of the funds to the corresponding bank(Hsbc Bank India). The Hsbc India, they will be in touch with you soon either via phone or email, to let you know that they have your funds and also ask you how you wish to receive your funds. And also below is their contact email:

Contact person:
Hsbc Bank India
Name:Kumar Das
Tell: +919711175796

I will suggest you quickly write an email to them saying my name is …, I was told the money i had Inherited was transferred to your bank with (REF NO: Hs70/49/2076). I’m emailing you to find out if my inheritance was transfer to your bank or not and also you will know how to contact me when you need to transfer the money to my bank account.
I will be waiting to hear from you that Hsbc India, INDIA have received the funds on your behalf and the home you send the picture to me is very nice and please transfer the funds to your account on time so i can buy it and move in.

Do have a nice day.
Thank you.
Zhang Yong


I was told the money I had inherited was transferred to your bank with (REF NO: Hs70/49/2076). I’m emailing you to find out if my inheritance was transferred to your bank or not and also so that you will know how to contact me when you need to transfer the money to my bank account.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

-Christian D. Sanders

Welcome To Hsbc Bank India <>\

No-34 Central Market, Sector-2 ;
West Avenue Road, West Punjabi Bagh,
New Delhi 110026,India


Tell: +919711175796
Dear Customer: Christian D. Sanders,
We have indeed received signal from our affiliate in China, instructing us to release Entitlements to the tune of Nine Million, Three Hundred Thousand United State Dollars to you as the ultimate beneficiary.
You are very welcome to the HSBC BANK INDIA, we are happy to have you as our customer. We actually have different types of accounts with various facilities attached and as an offshore customer, you are requested to choose from the list of accounts we have and each have its minimum opening deposit which you have to send to us before an account can be properly set-up for you. You would find the Account Opening Form attached to this mail, fill and return to us either through email attachment. As soon as we receive these information with the Opening Initial Deposit from you as well as the choice of Account you wish to open with us. We shall go ahead to set-up account for you. Your urgency in opening of this account will depend on when we received these requirements from you. Find attached, Account Opening form, Download, print and fill it out then resend it back to us.
(Note the weasel words to ensure that I know I have to send money. They have the balls to talk about “Banking Ethics”.)
It would interest you to know that Your Funds with us does not have a “Proper Account or Foundation” and Deduction from your Funds to Open the account in your favor would serve as a Violation of the Banking Ethics enacted by the Bank of Asia (BOA) which serves as the Regulatory Body of all Financial Institutions here in Asia. In order to avoid Strict Sanctions, We sincerely advise that you pay the Account Opening Fee which would also be CREDITED to your Account once you have Access. As for the Account that could be good for you, we advice you take the Offshore Account which most Non INDIA residence have with us. This Account allows you make payment online and transfer funds online without being subjected to questioning. We advice you act fast as we do not have Authority to keep this funds more than expected.
Furthermore, it should be noted that using your funds to open an account with us does not mean that the money goes to your local account. This is like an initial deposit made into a new account with us to make it active after which we will pay in your borned deposited funds of 9.3 million dollars into the account you are about to have with us and then, you can Initiate a Transfer to your local account in your Country.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by Engaging your Phone across to us or sending us your questions via our email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Note: Do scan a copy of your international passport or driver’s license along side when returning the form.
Best Regards,
International Transfer Department Hsbc India
Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved
Hsbc Bank INDIA(HBI) International Remittance System.
Confidentiality Note:
The information contained in this message is confidential and/or privileged. This message is intended to be read only by the person named above. The unauthorized use, disclosure, copying or alteration of this message is strictly prohibited. If you are not the addressee, (or responsible for delivery of the message to the addressee), please notify the originator by return message and destroy the original message immediately.

To whom it may concern:

Please find attached your Account Opening Form as requested.

Sincerely yours,

-Christian D. Sanders


(Here’s where they get down to the nitty-gritty. “Send us the money via Western Union.”)

Welcome To Hsbc Bank India <>

No-34 Central Market, Sector-2 ;
West Avenue Road, West Punjabi Bagh,
New Delhi 110026,India



Dear Respected Customer:Christian D. Sanders,

You are welcome to Hsbc Bank Of India. We are pleased to be at your service. We are Regulated and Stipulated by the Financial Service Authority (FSA), the financial institutions that govern all financial activities in the Asia,India.This bank is in receipt of your offshore account set-up. It might interest you to know that we have already updated our record. Your account will be activated 4hours on confirmation of your payment.
Furthermore, it should be noted that using your funds to open an offshore account with us does not mean that the money do not go to your local account. This is like an initial deposit made into a new account with us to make it active after which we will pay in your borned deposited funds of 9.3 million dollars into the account you are about to have with us and then, you can Initiate a Transfer to your local account in your Country with our online transfer details which will be sent to you once your account is activated

For prompt disbursement of your inheritance funds, payment for Offshore Account can be effected via Western Union Money Transfer for speed and convenience sake you are to locate the nearest Western Union Money Transfer close to you and make the required payment to the name of our receiving accounts officers.

NOTE: Payment should be addressed to this bank with instructions given below to account receiving officer :

RECEIVER’S NAME: Maduneme Christian Anthony
RECEIVER’S ADDRESS: No-34 Central Market ,West Avenue Road, New Delhi 110026.India

After you have made the payment, You are required to send to us a scanned copy of your Western Union customer payment slip/receipt to enable our account officer confirm your payment. Also You Can Send The Following Information via Email as they appear on the Payment Slip:

Senders First Name.
Senders Last Name.
Sender Address.
MTCN(Money Transfer Control Numbers).

We look forward to serving you better.

Best Regards,
Mr. Kumar Das
Chief Operation Officer Hsbc Bank India
Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved.

Hsbc Bank INDIA(HBI) International Remittance System.

Confidentiality Note:
The information contained in this message is confidential and/or privileged. This message is intended to be read only by the person named above. The unauthorized use, disclosure, copying or alteration of this message is strictly prohibited. If you are not the addressee, (or responsible for delivery of the message to the addressee), please notify the originator by return message and destroy the original message immediately.

(I thought I’d prolong the agony a bit more, and see if I could waste a bit more of their time.)
Dear Mr. Das,
You have 9.3 million dollars of mine sitting around in your bank, earning interest for you rather than for me. Please apply some of that interest toward the creation of my account. Even at an effective rate of 1% per annum, that’s over $1,000 in the four days since you have notified me that the funds are available. This should be quite sufficient for the establishment of the offshore account. Please let me know when this has been accomplished. Thank you.”

Sincerely yours,
Christian D. Sanders

(Unfortunately, I heard nothing back from either one of them for a day or so.)

Dear Mr. Zhang Yong,

I have received two communications from HSBC in India. They are requesting an inital deposit of over $900.00 to set up an account there. I responded thusly:
“You have 9.3 million dollars of mine sitting around in your bank, earning interest for you rather than for me. Please apply some of that interest toward the creation of my account. Even at an effective rate of 1% per annum, that’s over $1,000 in the four days since you have notified me that the funds are available. This should be quite sufficient for the establishment of the offshore account. Please let me know when this has been accomplished. Thank you.”
I have since not heard back from them. Can you please contact them and let them know that they should move forward with this transaction?

Well i contacted the bank and only to know that you gave a police phone no and you are not ready for this transaction so i ask them to stop the transfer as i will look for someone to help me out.
(Evidently he actually tried the phone number I gave him, and was connected with the San Francisco Police Department. Oh noes!)

(Well, game over.)

Dear Mr. Zhang Yong,

I’m impressed. Most scammers don’t actually try calling the phone numbers. But I have had a lot of fun wasting your time – I’m only sorry I couldn’t get you scurrying to Western Union a few times with bogus MTCN numbers. You should be ashamed of yourself, and try doing honest work for a living instead of stealing from others, 小兔崽子. You and all your kind are 大象爆炸式的拉肚子. 你给我滚.
PS – don’t forget every scrap of information I provided you was just as bogus as your ignorant scam.
Up yours.

My followup message to the “bank”, just in case this was a separate accomplice

I had a lovely conversation with Mr. Zhong Yang today, in which I told him that he was a pile of steaming elephant dung, and a scamming criminal.

The same goes for you, whoever you are – but in all likelihood you’re the same person, so take your repulsive scam and [censored censored censored.]
I enjoyed wasting your time.
with great disrespect,
Christian D. Sanders (also a false name, just in case you were wondering.)

How productive is this? Well, not very – but every second these drones spend messing with me is time they can’t use trying to scam other victims, who might actually be foolish/greedy enough to send them money.

For the love of whatever you consider holy, do not deal with drones like this, and make sure your vulnerable loved ones don’t either.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Are you triangulating mission-critical units?

15 years ago, Scott Adams was making fun of business buzzwords.


In fact, something called “buzzword bingo” became a thing for a while, at least before managers caught on to the fact that they were being mercilessly mocked in meetings:


Here’s an example of a typical bingo card:


Rank and file employees, who are less concerned with leveraging proof of concept paradigm shifts than with trying to get their daily work done have long realized that management’s core task is to look impressive to the next level of management; the following chart has been in my files since the late 70’s:

Virtual Storage Buzz Phrase Generator

Imagine, then, my dismay to find out that this phenomenon has infiltrated the world of education. A recent article at Slate, “Parents Left Behind: How public school reforms are turning American parents into dummies,” takes a hard look at this phenomenon.

The author lamented,

“Then my friend Duncan helpfully explained that he was as confused as I was about the pedagogical objectives and aims of his child’s public elementary school in rural North Carolina. Until he realized that the school had seamlessly adapted Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Successful People into its curriculum, and his first grader started accusing him of failing to be sufficiently “proactive.” Last year I was grappling with rationalizing my son’s fractions. Suddenly I am also failing to employ proactive strategically dynamic new paradigms as well.

I have nothing against Covey personally, but his writings – along with those a plethora of other one-minute-manager types – have been adopted by bureaucracies and executive food chains nationwide in a frantic attempt to boost the bottom line, not realizing that giving a 5¢ item a $10.00 name doesn’t change the nature of the beast. Jennifer understood this all too well and saved herself from a career of servitude in the worst of all possible companies:


Only marketing departments have failed to grasp the essential truth that buzzwords are a sham, and an excuse for not obtaining actual results:


Doc Rat by Jenner

The important thing to remember is that results are often harsh, but always fair. If schools are focusing on finding new ways of describing “teaching,” which is what they should be doing, then they are spending needless time and effort on one-off tasks, and the quality of their results will suffer.

I want to see schools do the following, at a bare minimum:

  • Spend less time “teaching to the test,” and instead focus on the needs of individual students. In other words, “If students cannot learn the way we teach them, then we must teach them the way they learn.” [1]
  • Put as much emphasis on the character/social development of their charges as they do on the “3 R’s”
  • Pay teachers a living wage and make it easier to offload unproductive, burned-out or ineffective ones.

Make no mistake – in order for our schools to become effective at teaching again, instead of administering, the entire system will need to be overhauled. That means taking a good hard look at the power vested in teacher’s unions. I have nothing against unions themselves – my parents were proud members of AFTRA and SAG – but if a union has shifted its goal from ensuring fair treatment to the preservation of all jobs at any cost, it has missed its mark and needs to be reformed.

If you want to amaze your education colleagues, you can wax eloquent about disintermediating mastery-focused learning; if you want to turn out well-rounded, well-educated students, you can get away from the bureaucratic camel-ejecta and simply teach your kids, looking at them as distinct individuals instead of statistics on a performance chart which will determine next year’s funding.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] This quote has been attributed to Kenneth Dunn, Kenneth and his wife Rita, Robert Buck, and a number of others. Regardless of who said it, I consider it valid.

If you found a wallet, would you return it?


Hottest buzz in the travel world: a human error caused United Airlines to offer tickets for $0 for a brief time. Some of the comments are telling.

One Houston woman booked a Christmas trip back to Washington to visit her parents for $5; the return leg was $220, but it was still a cheap ticket. But why wait? She decided to try booking a cheap flight to surprise her parents today. “It was $5 round-trip, no fees, nothing,” she says. “This is nuts.” She checked in right away and printed her boarding pass hoping to increase her chances of being able to use the ticket.

United, to their credit, decided to honor the fares.

One attorney – irony! – who got six tickets to LA for all of $60, said “They took the high road, said, ‘We made a mistake.’ It may cost them some money on the front end, but it saves them potential litigation and bad press.”

The bad behavior of corporations is always good for a public outrage fest or a media frenzy, and there’s no disputing the fact that many businesses, large and small, are out to get as much as they can from the public and their employees as the law will permit. It’s natural, then, that people should see a chance to get their own back when the opportunity presents itself as a well-deserved entitlement, but there’s something fundamentally wrong with this attitude. Taking advantage of an obvious error is no better than finding a wallet on the street, stuffed with cash, and keeping it.

Speaking of lost wallets, it appears that according to one study, honest people outnumber the dishonest by a margin of three to one – but from where I sit, a 25% failure rate is still a pretty dismal showing. You can say all you want about times being tough, but honesty is an absolute: you don’t take, nor do you have a right to, that which is not yours. An Ethiopian cab driver in Las Vegas understood this when he found $200,000 left in his cab and promptly returned it; the owner tipped him $2,000 for his honesty, but I was unsettled by some of the comments from his friends:

“That’s all? How about 10 percent, at least? That’s $20,000. How about 15 or 20 percent? That’s the going rate for tips in Vegas, after all.”

There is no greater reward for honesty than the knowledge in one’s heart that one has done the right thing. Even if the owner of the money had been a thermonuclear cheapskate – had he given the cabbie nothing at all, or $5.00, for example – the fact remains that the money was never the cabdriver’s in the first place, and he had no right to a penny of it; this concept was obviously lost on his friends, who saw an opportunity to profit from someone else’s mistake and were disappointed when it wasn’t as lucrative as they hoped.

So our lawyer friend, who had the good fortune of scoring six – count them, six – free tickets due to United’s error, was not only reveling in his good fortune, he was also dangling the litigation card by implying that if United had failed to honor their error, they would have been sued – and sadly, there’s no question that he is right. In fact, I’m sure he would have happily jumped on the bandwagon for a share of the settlement, or at the very least, the billable hours from his work on the case. United understood this, and decided quickly that it would be cheaper to eat the costs of their error than face a rash of lawsuits and bad publicity – none of which would have been possible without a universal sense (or at least, extrapolating from the wallet study, a 25% sense) that “finders keepers” trumps “thou shalt not steal.”

Justification for dishonesty takes many forms. Conversations with Nigerian scammers have shown that there is a country-wide sense that any money extorted from rich westerners is payback for decades of colonial rape (from the 419eater Ethics page):

  1. Nigeria was a happy and peaceful country until the west came along.
  2. Western companies, such as Halliburton and Shell, bribed their way into the country and proceeded to strip Nigeria of its assets leaving the inhabitants poverty stricken and struggling to survive.
  3. The West is responsible and now it is payback time.

One scammer wrote,

“Ok, I don’t really call it cheating, most times the smart person become victorious. Some body has to pay what we call retribution. From what Africa went through during the Slave trade era, the west took all our resources, manpower, and our cultural and traditional wares… Some body will pay some how what your lineage owed.”

On top of this, there is a culture in Nigeria that esteems those who can make money without working.

On the other hand, sometimes dishonesty is born of countrywide desperation – a perfect example of a society that functions more or less based on the Ferengi “Rules of Acquisition” is Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An article in the September, 2013 issue of National Geographic paints a vivid picture of a society that is doing its best to survive plunder from within and without:

Despite its status as the capital city of the second largest country in all of Africa, Kinshasa is a marvel of dysfunction. Each of the government ministries has to be, as one U.S. official tactfully puts it, “basically self-financing”—meaning much of the money it has is generated by bribery and extortion. This is especially true of the police, who, says the aid adviser, “are one hundred percent on the take. Every one of them is an officer for one reason: to collect for himself.”

You would be right to expect anarchy from this collision of burgeoning poverty and state failure. But the West’s faith in institutions happens to be irrelevant in this slapdash confluence of metropolis and village. Nor is Kinshasa’s story the familiar African tale of woe, oppression, and no way out. Having first gained independence in 1960 from their Belgian colonizers, who left behind no governing capacity to speak of, and having then been deceived and plundered by the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, the Congolese have long since discarded expectations that their civil institutions and elected leaders will perform as promised. The miracle of Kinshasa is that it has not discarded hope along the way. On the contrary: This is a city of frenzied entrepreneurship, where everyone is a salesman of whatever merchandise comes along, an uncertified specialist—self-employed, self-styled—a creator amid chaos, an artist in a shed.

I’ve been to Kinshasa four times, and experienced this first hand.

  • I brought some computer equipment into the country on behalf of a gentleman who was providing it for his friends. $200.00 “duty” had to be paid before it would be released, and I’m certain that fee was determined arbitrarily by the customs agent on duty for that day, to be shared with my “escort” who facilitated all my dealings while in the country.
  • When leaving the airport, I was surrounded by people who demanded money for everything and nothing; the sleepy-eyed “official” lady at the gate who asked if I had any Congolese francs; when I said yes, she said, “Give them to me.” Now, there is a government requirement that no Congolese money can be taken out of the country, so she was justified in asking – but the fact that I produced a handful of currency worth only about 50¢ clearly annoyed her, and it was plain that the government would see little, if any, of what she collected. [1] Other people, none of whom I knew, simply asked directly: “Give me twenty dollars.”
  • My above-mentioned escort was a leading member of the Church community I was there interacting with. A rising star among the congregation, he was a trusted advisor to the mission president and a member of Church leadership. He ended up plundering the office safe and throwing away an astonishing opportunity to advance both in his country and in the world… all for a few dollars within easy reach that he thought he was entitled to because he could take them.
  • On the subject of missionaries, the Church in Congo was obliged to re-supply their missionary apartments after every transfer, because everything that had value was stripped by the departing missionaries, sold on the street, and the funds sent back to waiting families. At the time, the administration was instructed that there was to be no disciplinary action for such things, because this behavior was so deeply-rooted in the culture.

It gets sticky, doesn’t it? When your entire country is based on “catch as catch can,” there seems little hope for breaking out of the cycle. For what it’s worth, I love the Congolese people that I have known, and I wouldn’t presume to judge them; I can’t imagine living in such chaos, nor do I know what I would do in their shoes. But we live in a different society than Nigeria or the DRC; the poorest of the poor in our nation would be considered solidly middle-class by many African cultures.

United Airlines made a mistake, and stood by it; from a strictly ethical point of view they were not obliged to, but from a public-relations point of view they made the best choice possible. It gets them some positive karma (which they sorely need, after the “United Breaks Guitars” debacle) and ends up being cheaper in the long run. But the episode serves to point out that we have a serious breakdown of ethics in our own country, one which will surely cause our nation more collateral damage in the future.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] I am reminded of the attitude of Praetor Garovirus in “Asterix in Switzerland”:


Be of Good Cheer.

I grew up reading Peanuts™. In fact, I learned to read with Peanuts™. They may have used Dick and Jane in school, but at home, I read the delightful work of Charles M. Schulz. I even remember encoutering the strip below, and thinking about it at a tender age.


Schulz had a habit of working a bit of theology into his strips, especially with Linus, and especially around Christmastime, but later in life as I became more acquainted with Scripture, I immediately thought of this strip when I read:

“And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:16. King James Version)

In modern English, that translates as:

“If you say to that person, “God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,” but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing.” (New Century Version)

Pat Bagley is a cartoonist for the Deseret News, and he has done much humor orbiting around the faith of his fathers, specifically the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have this program called “Home Teaching,” in which members of the congregation visit others to make sure all is well, to bring words of comfort and inspiration, and to take care of needs that are not being met.

The cartoon below echoes the same sentiment expressed in the work by Schulz above:


The sad part is, I’ve seen this happen. When you’re in charge of a family’s welfare, it behooves you to find out if there is anything amiss that the community can help with. But when needs are screaming at you with the force of a turbocharged bugle, and you “make that visit” to check off your list and bump your statistics, brother or sister, you’re missing the point.

We’re supposed to help one another. In fact, that help is often coming and going.

A story:

In 1980, my young family moved to Olympia, Washington to take a job after my research staff position at a university was eliminated due to lack of funding. Shame, too, because it was a wonderful project. But at the time, IT jobs were hot in the Pacific northwest, so up we went to work for the State of Washington. The money was good, but only just barely – we had bought a home and were renting it to university students, and had to find a place to rent while we were there. The student’s rent didn’t cover the mortgage, so in effect we were paying two house payments, and things were tight, I mean, tight. We wuz po.

We knew we were stretched, but we didn’t feel poor – we had our year’s supply of food with us (that’s one of the self-reliance programs of the Church), and by scrimping here and there – mixing milk half and half with powdered, walking the two miles to work to save the quarter for bus fare, making pies out of the blackberries that grew abundantly in our backyard and everywhere else, we made it through. And when two years later we moved back home and were able to move into our house, things got a lot better.

But in the meantime, we were very tight on cash.

Around Thanksgiving time, it’s common for congregations to pitch in together and pool food for gift boxes for needy families. We raided our abundant food storage and took a box over to the chapel to add to the effort; and the day before Thanksgiving, we returned from doing errands to find a box on our own doorstep. It was an odd feeling; we were almost insulted, as we didn’t consider ourselves “needy;” but in retrospect, we were – and once we had gotten over the initial discomfort, the gift was most welcome. A turkey with all the trimmings, which is something we might have done without.

I’ve learned along the way that it’s often much harder to receive than to give. But it gets easier, especially when I think about the fact that someone (like myself) who receives help today might just be giving it tomorrow, or next year.,

The painting by David Linn, “The Ascent,” is a marvelous metaphor for life:

Helping Each Other

There’s no getting around it: Life is tough. It’s a lot less tough for the 1%, but even having more money than God is no guarantee that things might not go sideways in other areas of one’s life, as many a celebrity, politician, or CEO have shown us in recent years. When we band together as a team, as communities, as nations, as a species, and reach out to those struggling – only to have those people pass us on the way and offer us a helping hand further along the path – we all win. We all rise. We all walk into the light of a better world, a world that works for everyone, with no one left out.

I’ve been able to help a lot of folks along the way, and I’ve been the recipient of a lot of help as well. There’s no shame in it. It adds to our humanity, which – in the end – is all we come with , and all we can really call our own.

Reach and take my hand, and pull me up – so that I can do the same for others. In the meantime, be of good cheer.

The Old Wolf has spoken.