Archive for the General Silliness Category

Okay, so somehow I became aware of what appears to be the latest, greatest weight loss scam/MLM (Multi-Level Marketing, aka Ponzi scheme).

Let me just preface by saying that yes, this is a scam. And no, I don’t need to know what it is to make that judgement. You may be wondering, “But how do you know it’s a scam, then?”

Simple:

I have not, as yet, been able to find out exactly WHAT Visalus IS. I can deduce that it is some kind of vitamin/herb/otherbullshit supplement that people are intended to pay lots of money for.

What I HAVE found, however, is at least 13 pages of Google search results (I stopped looking at them at that point) of fake websites trying to persuade me that Visalus is awesome and totally not a scam and I should definitely get involved and become a reseller.

The first search result is, unsurprisingly, the product’s homepage. What is interesting about this site is that it does not look like the website of a company selling a dietary supplement. It looks like a media site devoted to videos, public events, a “flash mob” video, and various other crap designed to make the company look new and exciting and “a big deal”.

Everything is in video form. There are no articles or text discussion of the product itself, what it is, what it does, or (perhaps most importantly), what it contains.

Instead I am asked to view videos of people telling me how great it is and that I should totally get some and become a fan.

visalushomepage

I took a screenshot so you don’t have to give them page views.

As for the other Google search results, they fit into one of several categories:

1. Fake personal blogs

These are websites that have names that make them seem like they are the personal blogs of normal everyday folks like you. Sites like “darrenlittle.com”, “meetstaci.com”, and “andrewmurrayhq.com”.

2. Fake consumer protection sites

There are a number of reputable consumer protection and scam-exposure sites on the internet (such as Snopes, the Better Business Bureau, Ripoff Report, and others, along with various government websites concerning fraud). If you go to sites like this, you will learn that Visalus is indeed a scam run by crooks.

But if you go by Google search results, you get page after page of sites like empowernetwork, mlmbrothers, visalusscams, homebizscams, and other completely fake sites that exist for no other reason than to attract Google search and provide yet another sales pitch to the gullible public.

3. Fake financial advice sites

These are designed to look like they are legitimate, online sources of news and business information, and industry “tips” on how to manage your money and take advantage of hidden opportunities. They have names like onlinewealthpartner, the25dollarmillionaire, rebootyourmarketing, realestatearticle, and other stupid names that kinda-sorta sound like they might be comparable in reputation to, say, Forbes.com.

4. Fake health/nutrition/body building sites

5. Websites designed to look like they are about something else totally unrelated like electrical contracting and lawn furniture vendors.

6. Fake news radio/TV station sites

I think you guys get the idea by now.

What is really fascinating to me is the sheer brute effort that someone (or some company) has put into creating this fake internet presence and this “sphere” of self-referential “evidence” for a product that is not readily described.

Any company that tries this hard to make themselves look legit is not legit.

I shouldn’t even have to say that. Maybe if I get lucky, this post will get cross-linked enough to actually show up in the search results early enough for people to find it.

I can’t get this stupid song out of my head, so I’m going to inflict it on you.  If you haven’t ever seen Weebl & Bob, by the way, I highly recommend the series for pure weirdness.

This video is NSFW, so wear headphones and don’t watch with other people around.

I’m so, so sorry.  (No I’m not).

Do government regulations covering the transportation of human body parts apply to sanctified communion wafers?  (Bonus question for the religious: Should they?)

Here, for no particular reason, is a list of some random fond memories I have from playing computer games over the last twenty years or so. These were shaken lose by a thread on Usenet, and I figured why not share them here as well. I’m actually surprised in retrospect how significant a value computer gaming has been to me.

  • Playing Wizardry I on the Apple 2 with a friend. We reached the wizard at the end of the game, only to be told “You meet a friendly Werdna. F)ight or L)eave?” Naturally, we left, which we thought was hilarious until we discovered we were stuck at the bottom of the dungeon with no way out. D’oh! I think that’s the first quest bug I ever encountered in a computer game.
  • Finishing Ultima IV the day before an Ultima panel at a local science-fiction convention, only to discover that I was the only person in the room (including the panelists) who had finished the game. Much advice was given.
  • Ultima V. When I found out how Blackthorn had perverted the virtues and oppressed the citizens of Britannia, I got angry. That was the first time a computer game’s storyline evoked a significant emotional reaction in me. In those days, Origin’s slogan (“We Create Worlds”) wasn’t just marketing hype. (Their game Autoduel deserves an honorable mention. Getting as close as they did to a Car Wars computer game, with the technology they had at their disposal, was an act of genius.)
  • Finishing the original Quest For Glory with a different friend at college. The ending of that game, which showed you the impact your choices in the game had on various NPCs and the world, was one of the best I’ve ever seen. The personalization made it far more satisfying than any pre-rendered cutscene ending I can recall, even though the graphics were primitive.
  • The original System Shock. The antagonist, Shodan, had killed everybody on the space station where the game was set. But when I found out she left the muzak playing in the elevators — that’s when I knew she was truly evil. But really the whole game is one entire favorite gaming memory. I wish there were a way to play it again for the first time.
  • Lemmings. The way the game ratcheted up the difficulty was seductive and brilliant. You’d do a level using all the lemmings they gave you and swear that it couldn’t be done with any fewer. Then you’d get the same level with fewer lemmings, and curse, and experiment for hours, and finally figure it out, and feel really clever for a while — until they gave you that level again with even fewer lemmings. And they repeated this cycle many more times than you’d think possible. I still have the theme song stuck in my brain almost two decades later.
  • Getting stuck at the very beginning of Sorcerer, figuring out the puzzle on Friday afternoon and then solving the whole adventure in a single 12-hour marathon gaming session.
  • Solving the infamous “Babel fish” puzzle from Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Without assistance.
  • Writing a character and item editor for the original Bard’s Tale, just because I could.
  • Boot-trace cracking the original Might & Magic. (Not something I would do today, but I was much younger then and my grasp of property rights was shaky to say the least. It’s still a fond memory because the technical problem was interesting and my ‘crack’ required changing literally a single bit of the code. That’s elegant.)
  • Having my roommate ask me for help in a combat in Ultima Underworld II. As I recall, the conversation went something like this.  Roommate: “Hey, Kyle. I’m having trouble kicking Dorstag’s ass. Any advice?”  Me: “Sure. It’s a simple two-step process. You go up to him, and you kick his ass.”  To this day, I find the “simple two-step process” a useful locution for giving useless advice.
  • “Ward Bwitish? I have a cwose personal fwiend, a wuler fwom Bwitannia named Ward Bwitish.” (This will probably only be funny to people who have detailed memories of both Ultima VII: Serpent Isle *and* Monty Python’s LIFE OF BRIAN, but at the time it was hilarious.)
  • The interactive cutscenes in Mass Effect. Sometimes I fire the game up just to give alternative versions of the “pep speech” prior to taking command of the Normandy, because I love the cinematic nature of the experience so much.
  • The entirety of Deus Ex and Baldur’s Gate 2. As with the more recent Portal, the only complaint I have about those games is that they ended.