Oddorama

May 6, 2009

Seven Odd Notions of Prison

Filed under: Oodles of Oddities — Tags: , , , — Tombro @ 6:54 am

People have been locking other people for years and years and years and, not surprisingly, people have tried going about this in a variety of strange and interesting ways. The problem gets tricky when you have a lot of people locked up together. Here are some approaches that people have taken that stray a bit from the good old familiar gray building with the towers and the walls and Burt Reynolds playing football in the yard.

Prison Concept #1: The Panopticon

Remember the HBO series “Oz“? In it the narrator, Augustus Hill, appears in a floating cube — essentially a glass cell where everyone sees everything. In addition, the unit he’s in, “Emerald City” was designed as a place where everyone could be seen at any time (although there were actually lots of nooks and crannies where Bad Things could and did happen. Turns out “Oz” absconded with a page from Jeremy Bentham.

Bentham proposed the Panopticon, a round prison building with a central guard tower. The cells would be backlit so that prisoners would be silhouetted, and guards in the tower would be shielded so that the prisoners would never know when they were really being watched. Paging George Orwell…

Panopticon as designed by BenthamPanopticon design

A schematic of the Panopticon as proposed by Bentham

Presidio Modelo Prison

A real panopticon in Cuba. Quaint!

Panopticon interior

It’s even more charming on the inside — what lovely light!

July 19, 2008

An MP3 player that instills the fear of God

Filed under: Oodles of Oddities — Tags: , , — @ 6:39 pm

Lord knows I love getting boxes full of goodies, especially when they contain a hodgepodge of MP3 players and speakers. Apparently, the Almighty One also believes that Crave readers need a little more God-fearing in their lives, because my latest shipment included an MP3 player in this shape…

March 3, 2008

233 Unusual and/or Useful Websites You Should Know

[Correction: Thanks to a reader tip we're now up from 93 to 233!]

Looking for something but you aren’t sure just what it is? Sometimes a search engine just isn’t enough if you have no real idea of what you’re searching for. With that in mind, here are 93 233 great sites for finding all kinds of things online from the useful and unusual to the bizarre and obscure.

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Since this is OddOrama after all let’s start with the weird (and somewhat more obvious) ones and work from there. These sites are all worth seeing if you haven’t already: Cracked, Dark Roasted Blend, Deputy Dog, Digg’s Offbeat News Section, Grow a Brain, Miss Cellania, Neatorama, The Presurfer, WebUrbanist, National Geographic’s Weird News Section. Know a few of these? That’s alright, these lists get more obscure as you go – with many that may be less entertaining but make up for it by being strangely useful!

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MakeUseOf likewise has a two-part series with 40 usual websites you should know and 40 more. Many of these are far more useful if also more obscure. Some of them serve a single function you might never have thought you needed but that could prove useful once you know it exists. These are perhaps more geeky and functional in general, but haven’t you always wanted fast-and-easy disposable logins for popular websites or even free disposable phone numbers?

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WebUpon has a two-part series featuring 9 websites you should know and 9 more along the same lines. The emphasis here is on semi-useful niche sites you may not have heard of. Some choice ones from the second (and arguably more interesting) list include a textbook rental site, local venue reviews and a bizarre community-based lending program.

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ACleverCookie’s list of 7 clever websites you should know about truly does have strange and unheard of sites, including ones that help you find older versions of programs you use, discover local happenings in your area or even find out who is sick in your area. Some are more useful than others but they’re all pretty interesting and even more obscure than those on some of these other lists.

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DailyBits has a more targeted list of 18 undiscovered gaming websites you should know that serve a variety of functions from highly specific game-related sites to more general resources. If you’re a gamer this is a must-bookmark article. The list includes all kinds of freeware, cheat, gaming trivia and history for pretty much every kind of game geek.

 

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And to top it off, here are 100 more useful ones from LifeHacker.biz. Know of more? That’s what comments are for!

February 14, 2008

7 of the World’s Weirdest Conspiracy Theories

We’ve all heard by now the one about the faked moon landing, that Azerbaijan doesn’t even exist or that the government manipulates the water supply to keep us drugged, right? What you might not have heard is that some people attribute John Lennon’s death to Stephen King or that we are controlled by aliens or bar codes, possibly both.

Reagan Nixon and King

According to one theorist who has written a short book on the subject, Nixon, Reagan and (for good measure) Stephen King were involved in the murder of John Lennon: “… government codes in major magazines, Including the killers face, and true identity. Mark Chapman’s name attached to a letter to the editor printed weeks before the murder and more that proves a Nixon, Reagan, and yes, Stephen King conspiracy.”

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The War of the Worlds broadcast that panicked the populace nearly a century ago was not just a humorous hoax but was instead a controlled psychological experiment: “… what has been

February 11, 2008

Scamming the Scammers: 5 Brilliant Reverse 419 Scams

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Countless people are victimized every year around the world by international scammers claiming to have access to fortunes through banks, royal families, business partners, deceased loved ones and more. Some clever crusaders, however, are fighting back in kind and hilariousy scamming the scammers. In some cases this ties up the scammers’ time with useless tasks and in other cases the result are downright hilarious, like a scammer baited into carving a Commodore 64 keyboard replica from wood. This sampling of scambusts is just a starting point and these are often quite involved and long, going back and forth for weeks, so read the descriptions and click the links if you want to read more!

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Scammer Shoots for MacBook, Gets Nightmare Computer

The nutshell: what started as a genuine attempt to sell a laptop resulted in a buyer (scammer) trying to get a free laptop and paying hundreds for a joke/junk one. The original laptop buyer realized right after his purchase he didn’t need the computer and attempted to resell it on eBay. The first responder was someone from the UK who asked about international shipping and the use of a seemingly sketchy Escrow service. The seller realized a scam may be in the works and kept the scammer on the hook. Eventually the scammer ended up paying fees in order to receive a package containing the hilariously junked “computer” shown above. He proceeded to send viruses and otherwise attack the seller but it didn’t stop his humiliating story from going public!

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Scammer Shoots for $150,000, Gets Scambait Tattoo

The nutshell: a fake pastor from Nigeria tries to con a stranger out of money only to end up with a horrific tattoo instead. In a supposed bid for financial assistance to help Pakistani earthquake survivors this scammer tried to trick the wrong individual. The scambusters write back that he could have up to $150,000 if only he were a member of the church. The scammer bites, of course, and is told that he’ll simply have to get a tattoo showing his devotion to the church. Sure enough, he gets the tattoo and sends pictures! At this point things get strange: the scambusters fake being another scammer who has hacked into the good church’s email system. They finally get the scammer to “work for them” and admit what he is doing. Before it is finished, the scambusters have the name and address of the scammer and leave him waiting (forever) for his funds).

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Scammer Shoots for Political Funds, Gets H.P. Lovecraft

The nutshell: a Nigerian scammer poses as a political candidate seeking funds toward his election, while the scambuster’s responses grow ever more creepy, surreal and insane. The scammer and scambuster begin discussing a transfer of money when the scambuster begins unraveling a tale that includes the discovery of a secret, ancient and still-active cult. While the scammer is asking him to send his passport, the scambuster continues with his story and cites furtive cult meetings and raises the possibility he is being followed. While the scammer pushes him to send some money via Western Union, he replies that a friend has died in mysterious circumstances while researching the cult. Eventually the scammer starts warning him to be careful, and even gets into the game: warning him what to do to play it safe and what to do with secret society objects he has accumulated. Then the hammer drops and the scambuster goes crazy before switching emails and sending the scammer information about the mysterious disappearance of the scambuster. The final response? The tables have turn and the insanity has spread as the scammer flips his lid and types – all typos and caps – a deranged warning to leave him alone.

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Scammer Wants Help Recovering Fortune, Gets Murder Plot

Nutshell: Mrs Marie Jeanne Keita, formerly of Saudi Arabia, now in Cote D’Ivoire, is supposedly dying of cancer and wants assistance in getting her late husband’s fortune – and winds up in a conversation with multiple personalities and faux-deadly consequences. The supposed money is secured in a “matalic” box at a security company, out of Africa and use it to fund orphanages and such. She also wants help taking care of and raising her son. New York ad executive Pete Moss has no time for Mrs. Keita’s problems unless of course she can help him solve some of his own – which she does. Adult movie producer, Dick Wadd and his sales manager, Hugh Jass, eventually get in on the act and when Mr. Moss is brutally murdered by British hit-men, Mike Rotch steps in, but only to try to steer him back to Mr. Wadd. In the end? The nice old lady sends photos of potential male models to be part of his non-existent pornographic films.

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Scammer Wants to Transfer Funds, Gets Hilarious Web of Lies

Nutshell: This one is too funny to even try to explain. In short: you should read it. This scammer stays on the line despite the scambusters repeated requests for him to use absurd code names, repeated abuse, bizarre requests for photographs, strange attached photographs sent to him and so on. Biblical quotes, sex references and nonsensical truisms are only the beginning. The Ebola Monkey Man starts out slow but once he takes the gloves off this is a no-holds-barred death match well worth checking out. Check here more scambaiting links and resources and this book if you are worried about getting scammed.

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