Why not say it with style?

Here’s a funny and pointed video making a series of good points stemming from the unrealistic, unattainable ‘beauty’ images young women are presented with every day … and the ‘deception’ effect of make-up.

Jenna Marbles — a great example of setting a bad example, satirically (click) for video

How to trick people into thinking you’re good looking is a good-hearted (be warned: foul-mouthed) ‘tutorial’ for young women by Jenna Marbles on changing one’s appearance to get over the fact that ‘you were born ugly’. (i.e. It’s not too deep.)

Watch it below the fold.

And in the meantime, in the same vein as my earlier post, ‘Re-touching to the point of distortion‘, this pic from Photoshop — The Perfect Lie is yet another example of the beauty industry taking what’s already a breathtakingly beautiful image of a person and making it impossible — not a single blemish. I personally think this is unfair to women.

Left: already beautiful. Right: 'Flawless' — and impossible. (click for link)

Continue reading →

High profile conman jailed for at least 10 years

Apropos my comment yesterday about liars being stopped in their tracks:

Go on working your con-game and feeding your lies to anyone who will listen … until you are finally exposed by inconvenient truth (like Bernard Madoff?) and STOPPED IN YOUR TRACKS.

What's behind the facade of some 'motivational' speakers?

I heard this guy (below) speak once. He was very memorable. Highly engaging, funny, seemingly sincere and oh-so-persuasive. I felt ‘motivated’ after hearing him. (I even got a recording of his talk!)

Just a few short years later …

A MOTIVATIONAL speaker who ripped off investors to the tune of $1.7 million has been jailed for 10 years.

Kate Jones | Herald Sun July 22, 2010

Christopher Philip Koch, 60, was found guilty by a County Court jury of 15 counts of obtaining property by deception, seven counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception and one count of making an offer or invitation in a prescribed interest scheme.

During the Koch’s three-month trial, his lawyers told the jury he had not intentionally scammed his victims but was in a reckless state of mind. [Comment: Good grief!]

But in sentencing Koch today, Judge Carolyn Douglas rejected this defence and found that Koch had deliberately taken large sums of cash from his victims to invest in a high-yield scheme he knew was fictitious.

and

Christopher Koch jailed for $1.7million investment scam

By David Olsen on Thursday, 22 July 2010

Christopher Koch, formerly a high profile motivational speaker, has been sentenced to 13 years jail after being found guilty in the Melbourne County Court on charges brought by ASIC.

Christopher Koch, of Point Cook, Victoria, was found guilty on Friday 11 June 2010 and sentenced today. Mr Koch was charged with 15 counts of obtaining property by deception and seven counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception totalling $1,152,000. Mr Koch was also charged with one count of making an offer or invitation in a prescribed interest scheme totalling $1,742,000. Continue reading →

How liars deal with a challenge

Rachel Maddow telling the truth to Bill O’Reilly … gee she’s good at this stuff!

Whaaat? Meeting abuse meeting your facts with more facts? (click)

Spot the pattern:

Rather than contribute to a debate about ‘the facts’ Maddow asserted about him and Fox News, (e.g. ‘This is why what she’s saying is wrong…’) Bill O’Reilly merely whacked Maddow’s sincerity (‘you have to be kidding’) and mental alertness (‘Unbelievable. Do you even live in this country?’) and then trumpets the relative ratings of their networks (Fox ‘kicks your network’s butt every night, madam’).

In other words, a smoke screen. (A classic example of a bully’s crap argument style.)

That’s pretty much how liars deal with someone challenging them:
(1) Ignore the facts or assertions of facts
(2) Abuse and smear your critics as somehow mentally deficient or ‘envious’ of your ‘achievements’
(3) Go on working your con-game and feeding your lies to anyone who will listen … until you are finally exposed by inconvenient truth (like Bernard Madoff?) and STOPPED IN YOUR TRACKS.

Then, when you’re out of jail again, move on.
Find another niche (maybe in another country?) Rinse and repeat.

Watch the Rachel Maddow video below the fold. Or visit her page at MSNBC Continue reading →

Good writing

This is a very good article/profile by Miranda Sawyer from The Observer (via NZ Herald) of this complex artist M.I.A.
Worth reading.

I personally like this kind of semi-gonzo journalism:

While Maya is talking, I think: she’s nothing like I expected. She’s gentler, more smiley, more discursive. Still, it would be easy to pull out a damning quote or two; she’s no diplomat.

and the earlier judgement of another writer’s profile as:

To be honest, for the waspish Hirschberg the feature wasn’t that nasty, though its tone sneered and she made many of her points through implication.

Oops. {grin}

The whole thing is worth reading, even if you don’t know who M.I.A is.

The rush to certainty …

A WHOLE lot of wisdom in one bite-sized blog post from Dave Pell, internet superhero:

Talking sense: Dave Pell, internet superhero (click for link)


That’s an apt description of the new national pastime: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and making determinations and judgments without a full set of facts.

When confronted with the realtime web’s constant flow of incoming information, who has time for a full set of facts? We each take a few seconds to consider a one hundred forty character blurb and then hammer out our reactions by way of a Tweet or status update.
Read the full post

He’s onto it. Good on him.

It’s a natural human tendency (lazy) to revert to shorthand to describe things we encounter — we often frame new experiences in terms we already understand (the infamous, ‘Hmm.. tastes like chicken.’) One of my journalism teachers trotted out the adage: ‘Making the new familiar, making the familiar new’ describing an aspect of a reporter’s job.

The reason clichés are so common in reporting isn’t (just) necessarily because the piece was written by a lazy hack. It’s because clichés, bless them, communicate. That, and tired old hacks who have seen it all before and are reaching for the line of least effort. Also, some things ARE clichés: ‘Minister overspends expenses’, ‘Hollywood starlet comes off rails’, ‘Government breaks promises’.)

I remember reporting my first airplane-in-trouble-alert-at-the-airport story. It got my adrenaline pumping in a way the sixth one didn’t. Same with a sinking ship. (But, to be fair, I only ever reported ONE lion-escapes-from-the-zoo story. And I never got over the ghastly kidnap and murder of a young girl, Karla. Never.)

But back to Dave Pell’s excellent point: the rush to judgement without full facts is a hazardous path. I think the ‘wired’, ‘connected’, ‘status update’ aspect of the internet and (gasp) social media in particular … and the ‘snippet’ or ‘quip’ mentality that often ensues … can lead to a pronounced shallowness.

What’s wrong with taking a bit of TIME & THOUGHT to consider something, a situation, someone’s actions or the veracity of their statements?

What’s the hurry?

Research first, I say.
I’m personally often slow to form an opinion about people and situations. I’m reflective, almost a wonk in terms of archiving and gathering notes and ‘evidence’.

I’m also blessed, truly, with friends with whom I can and do share my thoughts and gestating conclusions deeply. I also check my expression of those ideas with that ‘brains trust’ (Main Q: Am I being unfair?) occasionally drawing back from some ‘purple prose’ (as one of my mates calls it) if the expression is getting too heated.

It’s the same with debate. Why jump down someone’s throat without fully considering their argument, if they offer one? I invite people frequently: Let’s hear your side of it. Have I missed something? Am I misunderstanding this somehow?

It’s different if their ‘argument’ doesn’t exist…. if instead of being a constructed series of facts or data points, it’s just a collection of shallow postures or vacuous, unsupported claims of genius, expertise, godliness or integrity.

You’ll never get to the bottom of that sort of stuff.

Because they’re not being authentic.

Yet another good graphic …

The latest in my series of graphics that communicate

This one from a brief article, ‘The Mental Anchor of Money Mistakes’ by Carl Richards in the New York Times:

from 'The Mental Anchor of Money Mistakes' by Carl Richards (click)

Never argue with an idiot …

… People watching may not be able to tell the difference.”

So, I made a brief comment, mainly about a bloke (perhaps) being misquoted and (perhaps) inadvertently being caught up as window-dressing for someone else’s selling machine.

He came out slugging and justifying his position. Defending his ‘reputation’ with legend-in-my-own-lunchbox slogans, bristling.

It reminded me of this, Dueling Carls:

Watch the video below the fold Continue reading →

Guest ‘guru’ sometime soon?

How long can it be before ‘Tumbleweed’ Dean Letfus invites G Sharp to share the stage as a guest guru? I’m sure his sales pitch would fit right in!

'Lazy millionaire reveals secret' ... Where have I read that before?

I spotted this engaging ad in last weekend’s Sunday Star Times — the very same edition that carried the Property guru does US u-turn story by Rob Stock about ‘self-styled New Zealand property guru’ Dean Letfus‘s changing view of US tax liens as ‘snake oil’, oops, a ‘unique opportunity’.

I had to laugh.

YouTube Traffic thieves spotted in the wild

Remember my review of Geekversity spruiker Shaun Stenning‘s YouTube Traffic Thieves report… An odious little volume?

Apparently news aggregator site Gawker.tv (parent of Gizmodo, receivers of stolen iPhone prototypes) recently used one of the dodgy ‘tricks’ promoted by the young guru’s mephitic ‘e-book’ i.e pinching someone else’s video and uploading it to get ‘their’ traffic.

Charlie Todd spills the beans:

So Gawker.tv posted about my Star Wars Subway Car video today, but instead of embedding my video from YouTube like the rest of the Internet does, they ripped it from YouTube and uploaded it to their own site without permission.

So I get no credit for any of the views of the video on their site. How nice! Also, by uploading their own ripped version of the video, they can prevent me from seeing any AdSense revenue and focus on making their own money from the ads surrounding the post. Awesome! Continue reading →

Now that’s what I call ‘news commentary’!

Taiwanese news 'summary' of iPhone 4 issues — Hilarious! (click for video at YouTube)

Steve Jobs defeats Bill Gates/Darth Vader and becomes the new Dark Lord harnessing mystical powers of the Force while laughing maniacly … oh boy, it’s good.

Here’s an ‘artists impression'(?) of how Apple dealt with Gizmodo editor/receiver of stolen iPhone prototype Jason Chen:

Not exactly a mini documentary. Very funny.

Watch the video at YouTube.

Thanks to John (“My linking to these videos proves that I’m a hack on Apple’s payroll.”) Gruber.

Lying, my dear boy, just compounds the crime …

image: geekalerts.com (click)

A while ago I posted a few thoughts: Potshots from behind a mask of anonymity are, by definition, cheap, saying in part…

Internet anonymity has also clearly been abused by what I call cardboard cut-outs and glove puppets who pop up in online communities to anonymously denigrate their “enemies” without declaring their allegiances (or building a case other than abusive name-calling).

I’m all for well-expressed (even strident!) comments, discussion, argument and debate. I much prefer it to be in the critic’s own name (accountability) but sometimes anonymous can be OK.

The recent case of a British history professor and author, Orlando Figes, anonymously trashing his “rival’s” books and then DENYING it was him doing it when caught and confronted — lying, then threatening to sue his targets/unmaskers for libel (?!?!) — opens up a different conversation.

The aftermath to these events is this unseemly spectacle:

Historian Orlando Figes agrees to pay damages for fake reviews

Orlando Figes posted reviews on Amazon praising his own work and rubbishing that of his rivals
Alexandra Topping The Guardian Friday 16 July 2010

One of Britain’s leading historians, Orlando Figes, is to pay damages and costs to two rivals who launched a libel case after a row erupted over fake reviews [he] posted on the Amazon website.

(Hello “Slapper“? Hello “MUFFIT“? Is there anything you need to confess?)

Here’s a good background article ‘How I rumbled the lying professor’ from one of Prof. Figes’ targets. A low tale indeed.

I maintain there is a way to criticise people and their arguments: cleanly and directly. It’s what I try to do. Truly. (Do I fail? Yes, sometimes I fail.) Here’s an example of how it’s done … where Columbia Historian Alan Brinkley took issue with Seymour Hersh’s book on JFK The Dark Side of Camelot:

How to criticise — in your own name, openly.

Continue reading →

Property spruiker Steve Goodey: let’s join the dots (Part 1)

A couple of days ago in my post Dean Letfus: change of heart or rudderless mercenary? I discussed the comprehensive about-face demonstrated by property spruiker Dean Letfus who criticised US Tax Liens as ‘snake oil’ — he even warned the investing public to steer clear of them and the (according to him) dubious characters hawking them to Kiwis.

'Self-styled property guru Dean Letfus' warned US tax liens are snake oil ... 'Fifteen months on, Letfus is spruiking the very same system.' — Sunday Star Times (click)

I pointed out that he seems to now be actually promoting the same US Tax Liens and the same sales personnel through his NZ Property Gurus … er, sales operation (whatever). That’s since been the subject of some news media attention (well, the turnabout is striking, let’s face it.*): Property guru does US u-turn (Sunday Star Times 18/7/10)

Rob Stock’s article includes this implausible bullshit puffery from Dean Letfus:

His [Dean Letfus’s] earlier opposition had, he said, been partly based on his personal antipathy for Jones, as well as other factors such as exchange rate risk and what he saw as excessive costs.

But Letfus said his new view was based on a changed exchange rate position, as well as the tax lien education being sold at the seminar being delivered by Steve Goodey in New Zealand rather than out of the US.

“Because Steve’s involved and people are making good money out of it, and the world has a totally different look to it, it is a good opportunity for some people.”

“… a good opportunity for some people.” Yeah right. Pardon my cynicism. Let me guess WHO is (generally) ‘making good money out of it’. Yes, the spruikers! (As for Steve Goodey’s alleged ‘tax lien education’, oh please stop! I can’t breathe!)

Today, in this post I’d like to share some thoughts about why I think buying property or get-rich-quick ‘unique opportunities’ (like US tax liens) from people claiming to be ‘investment property educators’ or ‘mentors’ or ‘gurus’ (or even ‘good friends’ of such claimants) can be fraught with difficulty and hidden traps.

Since he’s been cited, I’ll focus (for illustrative purposes) on the activities of the individual Dean Leftus claims showed him the light regarding last year’s dodgy “snake oil”, this years ‘golden opportunity’ US Tax Liens: Steven Goodey.

A buyer’s tale: Steve Goodey’s ‘Due Pensione’ apartment development, Wellington

Dean McNamara spoke up about his issues with Steve Goodey. (click to view as PDF)

Earlier this year, the owner of the website www.duepensione.com (since disabled and converted into a valueless Shaun Stenning-type MFA site) apartment buyer Dean McNamara competently and comprehensively documented serious issues with former Richmastery franchisee and ‘mentor’ Steve Goodey’s ‘Venture Property Group’ ‘Haining Street Trust’ and ‘Due Pensione’ development — by publishing correspondence and contracts and posing some informed questions (PDF): Continue reading →

“If you don’t want an iPhone 4 …”

OK, it’s unofficial(?) Apple PR, but as well as being entertaining (always a plus) Jonathan Mann’s song is also a nice serving of ‘Let’s keep this in perspective‘.

Jonathan Mann song re Apple iPhone 4 antenna 'issues' (click for video)

“The media loves a failure in a string of successes / the facts won’t ever matter if they can make their bigger messes/ sure I can make it happen / but in terms of daily usage / I’ve yet to drop a call / so this whole damn thing is stupid.”

Chorus: “If you don’t want an iPhone4, don’t buy it! / If you bought one and you don’t like it, bring it back…”

Video below the fold … Continue reading →

Dean Letfus: change of heart or rudderless mercenary?

'Two faced' by Dennis Preston (den.cc - click)

Property spruiker and self-proclaimed ‘internet marketing expert’ Dean Letfus gives me the inescapable impression of being rootless and slippery. He seems to flit hyperbolically from one cash flow generating event (for him!) to the next without much regard for consistency … or the trail of disappointment he leaves. (Examples here.)

I have long criticised property ‘educators’ and ‘mentors’ who sell property to their ‘students’. I say they’re crossing an ethical line. Others like Andrew King have agreed with me (PDF).

I am personally troubled by this particular travelling salesman’s fake-it-and-make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach to ‘property education’. I honestly think it is misleading, in some cases even akin to the Blue Chip-type scam where ‘investments’ were sold off the plans with ‘projections’, ‘guarantees’ and assurances that never materialised. Here’s why:

In March 2009, as part of public attacks on his former boss Richmastery supremo Phil Jones, Dean Letfus (oh so confidently) stated this about US Tax Liens:

I’ve spoken to people here and in the USA, they [US tax liens] are snake oil, complete with white shoes and wagons.

and this:

US Tax Liens

Other than this is what everybody has said, high risk, money can be tied up for years, no guarantee of profitability etc., you also have to look at what is said and what happens.

In PJ’s [Phil Jones] latest blog he says that they showed students 3000 properties for sale at 5 to 10% of their value, then says that their students deal is fantastic at 22% of valuation.

Why wouldn’t they buy such a bad deal?? Probably because the good ones don’t exist.

And the discount is off the valuation, which means nothing at the moment, and there is no mention of the taxes required etc. to hold the property. Yet this is all being talked about as “profit” instead of paper only equity, which may equate to zero in real dollars.

It is therefore logical to conclude that the “profits” from the liens may be paper only also.

In many states you require about a 22% yield to actually be cashflow positive.

I can find no evidence whatsoever of [Dan] Eckelman being involved with Trump as their Number 1 gloabl [sic] trainer and Tom was stopped at customs because of proceedings against him.

Would you trust the words of these people?

… but NOW Dean Letfus is actually promoting US Tax liens (!!) — as part of his business partner Shaun (G-string) Stenning‘s joint venture NZ Property Gurus hard-sell roadshow — the very US Tax Liens and the very operators (Dan Eckelman et al) that he and Matthew Gilligan criticised and warned people to stay away from. (Well, that’s how it looked — and not just to me, apparently.)

That’s a pretty serious change of tune: from ‘snake oil’ to amazing ‘opportunity’. That was then, this is now, I guess.

The self-proclaimed NZ Property Guru “educators” also seem to be selling “unique opportunities” to buy property in the USA, like this: Continue reading →

Who am I thinking of?

No comment! (image: fanpop.com - click)

OK, I don’t mean to denigrate anyone. I find this funny. Best wishes, P