An Especially Devious Spam Comment.

People can be so bloody dishonest it makes my brains hurt. This comment showed up on my post regarding combating elder fraud:

I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody else encountering problems with your blog.

It looks like some of the text on your content are running off the screen.
Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if
this iis happening to them too? This may be a issue with my
browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Manyy thanks

Looks legitimate and reasonable, except for the lousy spelling, but I know a lot of bad spellers and bad typists.

What was the dead giveaway was the user name: “Miracle Dr. Oz garcinia cambogia dosage,” and the link to a spammy review website promoting this worthless garbage, which then links to an even spammier order page. Dr. Oz should be ashamed of himself; he’s the health world’s “Mr. Popiel,” hawking anything and everything to the drooling viewers of late-night cable stations and internet infomercials.

As for this comment… into the spam can it goes. I won’t be increasing your SEO rankings, thank you, and what I would like to say to people who do this sort of thing – not to mention those who hawk worthless snake oil to the gullible masses – is not fit for a family-friendly blog.


The Old Wolf has spoken.

Cigarette Psychology, 1959

Anyone who has ever smoked or still does, knows that a big part of the habit is the ritual – to mention a few, opening the packs, tamping the cigarette down, the lighting with match or lighter, how you inhale, blowing smoke rings, flicking the ashes, having coffee at the same time, and – of course – how you hold that death stick.

This  image from a 1959 issue of Caper magazine shows Dr. William Neutra’s analysis of personality, based on how people hold their death sticks. Neutra was a Los Angeles psychoanalyst, which of course explains a lot.


Click the image for a full-size version.


You wanna buy some death sticks?

Back in the 50’s, nonsense of this kind bought a lot of Cadillacs for a lot of psychiatrists, but people were eating it up, so it got published.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Look Magazine: The first mass-produced 3D Picture

The magazines LIFE and LOOK were regular guests in our home, along with the New Yorker, the Saturday Evening Post, and a few other esoteric offerings. At one point in the 1960s, LOOK began including small postcard-sized attachments in the back of their magazine – mass produced parallax panoramagrams, or 3D pictures; the one you see below was the first.



The principle was very similar to the “wiggle pictures” one still occasionally sees today on toys and games – I remember being delighted with the little ones I found in Cracker Jack boxes in the 50s (before their prizes went to hell in a handbasket); the idea is to present a different image to the eyes as the ridged surface is rotated and refracts the underlying picture differently. In this case, however, the image is engineered to present a slightly different parallax to each eye at the same time.

TIME magazine had the following writeup about this innovation:

“A LOOK FIRST: 3-D PHOTO,” proclaimed the message on the cover. The Parallax Panoramagram “may mark the beginning of a new era in graphic-arts,” said the press release. As it turned out, Look’sfirst ran almost last in the magazine. On page 105, just short of the back cover, persevering readers found a stiff, postcard-size appendage, attached in the manner of a subscription renewal card. On the card was a black and white picture that showed a bust of Thomas Alva Edison surround ed by some half-dozen of his inventions. What made most readers stop and look twice was the picture’s distinct illusion of depth.
Look’s stunt, the result of 13 years’ research, constitutes the latest effort to translate the real world of three dimensions into the picture world of two. Artists have employed trompe I’oeil three-dimensional techniques for centuries. But true success for photographers awaited the invention of the stereopticon camera in the 19th century, which took two pictures of the same subject through lenses that were separated like a pair of human eyes. When the viewer saw each picture separately, through separate lenses, his brain automatically supplied the missing dimension of depth.
The Look process is almost identical. A specially designed camera takes pictures through a transparent screen that is serrated to break up the image into hair-thin vertical slices. The camera is then moved slightly to the right or left, as other, sliced-up pictures are taken on the same negative.
The process is laborious, costly and slow, and not yet adaptable to highspeed printing. Merely to pose the static picture in last week’s Look took two full days of work with a one-ton, cubical camera as complicated as an electronic computer. Five additional weeks were required to engrave the photograph, print it some 7,000,000 times on a sheet-fed offset press and then pour on and properly shape the clear plastic film that covers the picture with what amounts to a collection of lenses. The plastic lenses are so arranged that the viewer’s left eye sees one of the serrated pictures, the right eye sees the other (see diagram).
Look and its partners in the enterprise, Eastman Kodak Co. and Harris-Intertype Corp., which built the equipment that adds the plastic lens coat, have high hopes of commercial success. Cowles Magazines & Broadcasting, Inc., Look’s parent company, plans to establish a separate corporation, to be called Visual Panographics Inc., to sell its 3-D process to greeting-card manufacturers, display-art companies and anyone else willing to pay the price in money and time for an unspectacled illusion of depth. TIME Magazine

A much more detailed treatment of these images can be found over at Tattered and Lost.

An interesting bit of history, this was. It was impressive enough to me that  I’ve had it in my files for over half a century.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Not Dead Yet – The Celtic languages hold on for dear life.


From Maps on the Web:

A brief history of the Gaelic languages: Middle Irish spread into Scotland and the Isle of Man about 1000 years ago and has since developed into Scottish Gaelic, Manx and Modern Irish, though all are somewhat mutually intelligible (like Spanish and Catalan).

In the Republic of Ireland, Irish is a compulsory subject for 14 year’s of education up until college/university. While 41% of Irish people ticked Yesto the question Can you speak Irish? on the 2011 census, the reality is that only 4.4% use it outside the education system on a regular basis. This 41% figure is a reflection of Irish people’s aspirations for the language rather than ability. I would guess that no more than 10% of the population could actually hold a conversation in Irish, if even.

The situation in Scotland is worrying as they don’t have the huge popular and political backing like Irish does. And Manx died out as a native language 40 years ago but it’s seeing a recent revival with Manx-medium education.

Although the map states that 41% of Irish people surveyed claim they can speak Irish, the number of those who speak it fluently and daily is much smaller, with most of that 41% remembering not more than “cúpla focail” (a few words) of the torment they were required to endure in secondary school. But there is still a fierce pride around the language in some circles, even among the diaspora, which is true of the other Gaelic languages as well – witness the ongoing “Deireadh Seachtaine Gaeilge” (Irish Weekend) held yearly in San Francisco, and the ongoing work by Foras na Gaeilge, among others.

Even Cornish, which died “officially” in 1676 with the death of Chesten Marchant, has witnessed a revival, and Agan Tavas exists as a support organization for language learners; Breton continues to live, and its percentage of pupils in bilingual education has been growing. albeit slowly.

The map above does not address Welsh, (a Brythonic cousin to the Goidelic family) which has historically maintained the strongest foothold within the English-speaking world, but even this bastion of individuality is weakening somewhat:


The above map shows the changing percentage of those who claim to speak Welsh over the period of 10 years.

Throughout the Celtic world, street signs are one of the places where local languages are most visible:


And naturally, if you want to place a new sign, you need the text translated. But woe to the government worker who orders a sign without knowing what the hqiz they are doing:


The Welsh text on the sign above reads, “I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.” This was obviously an auto-response by a translator on vacation, but the ragskull handling the matter spoke no Welsh, and assumed that this was the desired translation. Oops.

Languages and dialects die almost every day. The Celtic family continues to struggle, particularly given the onslaught of English, indisputably the most popular international language. But the pride of Celtic language speakers will ensure that the death of these beautiful and historically rich tongues will not come until a day far in the future.

Tá an Sean-Faolchú labharta.

Going on a phishing trip

Scam Warning: Free Shipping Problem

Scam Email

This email appeared in my inbox overnight. It’s a scam, of course, but sadly many people will be taken in by it.

Why is this a scam?

  • First of all, I haven’t ordered anything from Walmart, ever.
  • Next, the mail was sent from “,” not “”
  • Third, notice the secondary text “Wallmart,” an obvious mis-spelling.
  • Fourth, notice the lousy English: “you must fill this form,” “you will be paid your money back.”
  • Lastly, if you happen to click the “this form” link, you are downloading a zip file called “” – and if you unpack that, you get “WalmartForm_Richfield_84701.exe

That last one is the biggest red flag of all: the first rule of safe computing is NEVER RUN ATTACHED EXE FILES. That’s a program, and it will either gather financial details and forward it to scammers, or install malware/adware/viruses/trojans on your system, or something else, or all of the above. Many people don’t enable the display of file extensions, so they would never know they’re opening a malicious program.

There are more scams out there than you can shake a stick at. Practice safe computing – never download or open attachments unless you are sure you know from whom they are coming. Be careful with your financial details. Never send banking or credit card information via email. Avoid sending money to anyone unknown via Western Union or Money Card. And never pay money to collect a prize, especially from a contest you have not entered.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Le Robinson Resort from the air.

Previously I wrote about Le Robinson, a resort in Patterson, NY just north of New York City. It was owned by my father’s first wife, Miriam, and her second husband, André Lavielle.

Recently I’ve been scanning a collection of slides and negatives that I inherited from my father, and encountered some shots of the resort taken from the air. My dad was an amateur pilot, among other things, and these are some pictures he took on one of his flights. They make an interesting addition to the history of the locale.

Le Robinson from the air 1

Le Robinson, showing the main house that burned, as well as the cottages. Visible are the tennis court and the bocce court to its right.

 Le Robinson from the air 8

Le Robinson from the air 7

Le Robinson from the air 6

Le Robinson from the air 5

Le Robinson from the air 4

Le Robinson from the air 3

The beginning of the pond can be seen at right.

Le Robinson from the air 2

Le Robinson from the air 9

It’s too bad the career of Le Robinson was cut short by the fire, but time was moving on and the popularity of these resorts was waning. I’m just glad the land was preserved and serves a useful community function.

Airplane (Le Robinson Flight)

For your gratuitous enjoyment, here’s a shot of the plane that these pictures were taken from. According to Miriam’s son David, Joe had rented this plane at Danbury airport to fly around the farm. He was almost shot down by the previous owner of Le Robinson, who had been fined $1,000 (a princely sum in that day) for jacklighting deer using lights and salt. Apparently he thought my dad was the game warden and was going to shoot him down for revenge.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Fraud by Deception – Labor Regulatory Compliance Office

Executive Summary: Do not pay this company a dime. They are charging an outrageous fee for something any business can get for nothing, and using scare tactics to imply that you are at risk of fines up to $17,000 for being out of compliance.

Fraud1  Fraud2

You can click the thumbnails above for larger images. Note that the “invoice” is designed to intimidate and frighten; the disclaimers and additional information on the back side are printed in very light gray type, difficult to read (I’ve enhanced the contrast and gamma for readability.) Note that they admit you are under no obligation to pay for their services, and what are you getting? A poster. A very, very, very expensive poster, plus three years of their “monitoring service,” which is worth precisely zip. Zilch. Nada. Cypher. Nothing.

Federal Labor posters are available for free. Utah provides a complete list of posters and where to obtain them. Unless you’re a company that’s rolling in so much money that you feel like it’s worth three hundred Benjamins to save the hassle of gathering these individually, save your cash.

And, in the rare case that your business is audited and you fail to meet the standards, most inspectors will simply let you know what’s missing and give you a chance to post whatever is needed. They are not draconian inquisitors, and fines are usually levied only in case of willful non-compliance.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A clever idea for combating elder fraud

I’ve written about sweepstakes fraud before – a number of times, actually, since greater exposure means more people protected. But it’s difficult to reach everyone, and especially those who are most vulnerable to being victimized are also least likely to be surfing around on the internet.


Now comes serial entrepreneur Kai Stinchcombe, whose grandmother was being victimized by all sorts of fraudulent operators, and who wanted to do something about it. I can’t tell you in practice whether this works as well as the marketing materials promise, but the idea looks very good, and I would definitely recommend that anyone who had vulnerable elders who are financially autonomous or semi-autonomous check out True Link, a specialized debit card that comes built-in with customizable fraud protection.

The True Link Prepaid Visa card works like a regular Visa Card. What’s different is that you can prevent purchases at specific stores and types of merchants using a personalized fraud blocker. Plus, it alerts you immediately if any suspicious charges do occur. If you need help resolving these charges, our free customer service is on your side.

There is no fee for the first year, and subsequent years involve a very minimal $20.00 annual fee. I wish something like this had existed when my own mother was in her declining years – it would have saved her thousands of dollars, and given her family priceless peace of mind.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Wind power? I’m a big fan. But not as big as this one.

Berlin’s Godzilla-size windmills, 1932




“Berlin rests in the shadow of a monstrously tall steel tower with a hydra head of spinning fans, each about 500 feet in diameter. A medium-sized town’s population climbs over the 1,400-foot-high structure, noshing in a cavernous cafeteria and peering off a cloud-shrouded viewing deck. The city is aglow with great gouts of energy pouring out of the windmill – as much as 130,000,000 kilowatt hours a year – illuminating the anguished faces of once-profitable oil barons now crying into their beer.

This was the ambitious 1930s-era vision of Hermann Honnef, a German engineer with a lifelong obsession with high towers and wind power.”

Found this interesting bit over at The Atlantic – Cities – click through for the full article.

On the other end of the scale, scientists are working on windmills so tiny that 10 of them could fit on a grain of rice, with a view toward using such small devices to recharge cell phones and such.



More on the idea can be read at The Verge.

While some ideas are phantasmagorical and others are yet futuristic, thinking out of the box and along these lines is both admirable and necessary. Anything we can do to get the oil industry crying into their beer steins is a good thing.

The Old Wolf has spoken.