The Missed Call: The Decade’s Zeitgeist?

By Jeremy Wagstaff (this is a longer version of an upcoming syndicated column.) When people look back at the last decade for a technology zeitgeist they may choose SMS, or the iPod, or maybe even Facebook. Me? I’d choose the cellphone call that rings, briefly, and then is silent. It’s one of those social phenomena […]

The Inanities of the Visionary

I have a lot of respect for Doris Lessing but her recent remarks about the Internet reveal an ignorance and lack of understanding that is depressing and unbecoming of such a literary giant. Here’s what she said in her acceptance speech for the Nobel prize for literature: We never thought to ask how will our […]

How Technology Shrinks and Amplifies Distance

Two pieces in the NYT/IHT that weren’t about technology, but kind of are, illustrate how technology can shrink distance but also grow it. First off a piece by Geoff D. Porter,  an analyst in the Middle East and Africa division of the Eurasia Group, explores how African would-be immigrants to Europe are now making their […]

The Puppy Love Scam

A few weeks back I wrote about love scams (“You Give Love a Bad Name,” WSJ.com) — how scammers are trawling online dating sites looking for suckers. What interested me about the scam is that in some cases the scammers play a very patient game — luring the mark in over a period of months […]

Google Earth as Harbinger of Doom

Researchers are using Google Earth, the New York Times/IHT reports, to look for evidence of giant tsunamis, signs that the Earth has been hit by comets or asteroids more regularly, and more recently, than people thought: This year the group started using Google Earth, a free source of satellite images, to search around the globe […]

An Unlikely Blogger Expelled

Although it’s not good for Sudan, I think it’s good for blogging: CNN reports that  The government of Sudan on Sunday gave the top U.N. official in the country three days to leave, marking the latest hurdle in international efforts to bring peace to the nation torn apart by civil war. Sudan expelled Jan Pronk, […]

The Wrong Guy Goes to Hollywood

The ‘Wrong Guy’ story just keeps going. The Congo-Brazzaville man who was interviewed on the BBC mistakenly as a computer pundit back in May could have his own movie, according to the BBC: The incident involving Guy Goma is the basis for a film being planned by Alison Rosenzweig, who produced the 2002 Nicolas Cage […]

Is Guy The Citizen Pundit In Danger?

Disastrous news for instant celebrities everywhere: Being mistaken for an Internet pundit on the BBC can bring you to the attention of the wrong people. Our hero Guy Goma, whom we (mistakenly) called a taxi driver when he was in fact an expert in data cleansing when the BBC mistook him for an Internet pundit […]

It’s All About the Backstory

If you’re going to do a scam, have a good backstory. Here’s how. It’s from a Mrs. Sarah Welsh of 26 Kensington Court, London, W8 5DL, England who says in an unsolicited email that illustrates how best to do the old Nigerian email scam: I am Mrs. Sarah Welsh, an English woman who is suffering […]

The General, The Famous Psychiatrist and “Different Nigerians”

You don’t have to be dumb to fall for Nigerian email scams. According to a suit filed by a renowned psychiatrist’s son, Dr. Louis A. Gottschalk lost perhaps $3 million over 10 years to scammers from Nigeria. As the LA Times puts it: The court documents, filed last month in Orange County Superior Court, allege […]