Thursday, February 14, 2008
Let's give the devils their due. Yeah, they've screwed over thousands of innocent people. But some of them had balls the size of hot air balloons and for that, we must salute them.
Charles 'The Ponz' Ponzi is, quite simply, one of the greatest swindlers in American history. The originator and copyright holder of the pièce de résistance of his career, the "Ponzi Scheme," Ponzi also boasted old-timey movie star looks and a smirk that could charm the pants off of the Pope.
Much like Vito Corleone, Ponzi came to America as an impoverished Italian immigrant. Also like Vito Corleone, Ponzi decided early in the game that his many talents should not be squandered working in a opium pipe-making factory, or wherever they sent the Italians to work back then. Keep in mind that the man had already served time in Canada, hiding it from his family by telling them he had gotten a job there. Once he was out and in the states, he created his own little plan for living the good life.
The deal was, back then you could get these coupons that could be redeemed for stamps in other countries. Ponzi noticed that back in Italy these coupons cost way less than the stamps in America. So, he figured it was still 1918 and there were a lot of retarded people around, and that he could buy like a billion of those coupons in Italy and then redeem them for the stamps here. He made 400 percent profit on each transaction, and didn't produce a damned thing.
Ponzi thought, well, shit, why isn't everybody doing this? So this smooth operator convinced thousands of people to invest in his totally legit business, the Securities Exchange Company, and by 1920 was making $250,000 a day.
Remember those coupons Ponzi was supposed to be buying with all this investor money? Yeah, he wasn't. There wasn't even a thousandth as many of the coupons in existence as the investors had given him the money to buy. He was basically just taking the investor's money, piling it up and swimming around in it like Scrooge McDuck. It was estimated that millions of dollars had passed through his hands and he had nothing to show for them but his awesome mustache.
Still, when an angry crowd of investors gathered outside his office, he walked right out there, smiled, gave them some money and offered coffee. That's the kind of guy he was.
He was eventually sentenced to prison, at which point he jumped bail, moved to Florida and went right back to scamming. When the cops came for him, he changed his appearance, stowed away on a boat and tried to leave the country. Finally, he got caught and went to jail.
The thing is, before that whole mess, Ponzi had come up with another idea. Back in 1918 he had tried to publish this book of business listings, where the businesses would pay to get listed and then people would use the listing to decide where to shop. Everyone told him the idea was retarded and he dropped it, plunging into a life of fraud instead. Later, somebody else would get rich on a thing called "The Yellow Pages."
For you poor unfortunates uneducated in the ways of evangelical fundamentalism, Benny Hinn may be off your radar. Which is too bad. Because Benny Hinn is king of the Muppet-Showesque monstrosities known as faith healers. He's so good, that he makes you forget about their supposed real king, What's His Name of Nazareth. "So what?," you may ask. "So he's a faith-healing evangelical--I've got dozens of those under my bed. What's the big deal?"
Mr. Hinn has built his ministry on a few tenets. One is his gift of prophecy. Here are just a few of his better known predictions:
God will kill all the homosexuals by fire;
Castro will die in the 1990s;
An earthquake would destroy the American east coast, also in the 1990s;
JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF was going to make a personal appearance at Hinn's African crusade.
Needless to say, Jesus had a great deal going on that day and couldn't make it. Followers have still donated millions to Hinn, who lives in a $10 million house and drives a Mercedes SUV. Apparently there's, like, some kind of law against asking people to donate money to God and then buying bling with it instead, because the Senate Committee on Finance launched an investigation late last year. If they have hearings it'll be interesting to see if Jesus makes an appearance.
It takes a special kind of guy to make this list. False prophesies and wicked combovers just aren't going to cut it. But Hinn is no ordinary minion of Satan. Observe:
As you can see, Hinn performs his miracles by slapping old people to the ground, and then apparently doing a Jedi force-push against those who come to their aid. Fat people, tiny deaf orphan children, epileptic mulleted types, anyone is fair game for the wrath of Hinn, who then swaggers around those passed out fools like Ali demanding a rematch.Audacity Factor:
In 2006 this pimp sent out this letter to his followers:
... we have recently taken delivery on our Gulfstream G4SP plane, which we call Dove One. I have enclosed a beautiful photo-filled brochure to explain more about this incredible ministry tool that will increase the scope of our abilities to preach the Gospel around the globe. Now we must pay the remainder of the down payment, and I am asking the Lord Jesus to speak to 6,000 of my precious partners to sow a seed of $1,000 in the next ninety days. And I am praying, even as I write this letter, that you will be one of them!
Walking may have been good enough for Jesus Christ, but it's not good enough for Benny Hinn. Somebody, please, buy this man a Dove One. Better yet, go ahead and purchase him a yacht, a subway line, the Orient Express, some rickshaws and a few of those elephants domesticated for human transportation. ANYTHING to get his egregious face-slapping ministry to the people.
Hell, maybe he's not a con man after all. Watch that video, the man's worth every penny.
Don't let the sexy name fool you. Kate, Margaret and Leah Fox were leading proponents of the Spiritualist Movement of the Nineteenth Century, their primary qualification for that job being that they were completely full of shit.
The younger two, Kate and Margaret, were only 10 and 12 when they convinced their idiot parents they could talk with a household ghost through a system of knocks and raps. The girls would snap their fingers and the ghosts would respond, much to the amazement of all the dumbasses who populated the world in the 19th century.
By the time big sister Leah got in the act, the three tricky Foxs had earned an international reputation as ghost-talkers and were making epic amounts of bucks with their other-worldly seances. Unfortunately, the sisters also gained a thirst for the hooch in their old age and were eventually exposed as fraudulent drunks who were using their toes to simulate the sounds from the great beyond, a trick that, in retrospect, doesn't seem it should have fooled the family dog.
Knuckle cracking? Really? Anyone who makes their living by popping appendages and is not a prostitute, side-show freak or chiropractor, deserves some mad props. And they didn't just say, "Hey y'all? You hear that? I bet the house is settling or something." No. These girls went through the trouble of creating a systematic knuckle cracking language to communicate with their pretend spirits ... and kept it up for almost 40 freaking years. A scientist (William Crookes) studied the sisters and declared them to be the real deal.
Well, we at Cracked have studied the people in the 19th century and declared them all to be mildly retarded.
One of the sisters eventually came clean when a reporter offered them $1,500 in beer money to spill the secret. The money was quickly pissed away and all three of the sisters died in poverty and were buried in pauper's graves. Even Charles Dickens couldn't have imagined a better ending for the Fox Sisters.
Gregor MacGregor made his fortune and reputation in the early 1800s when he convinced hundreds of investors that he was the prince of the fictional country of Poyois. Not only did Gregor MacGregor gain the trust and hard-earned pounds of his eager would-be colonists, he also created a guidebook detailing the geography and abundant natural resources of his island off the coast of Honduras.
By the time his 250 investors had sailed to the vacant patch of water where their island should have been, MacGregor was already rounding up his next group of colonists, this time from France. Undeterred by the eventual deaths of 200 of his first settlers, MacGregor went through the trouble of drafting a Poyois constitution naming himself as head of the republic. Even after his trial and conviction for fraud, this magnificent man continued selling non-existant land and stock to European nobility.
The real downfall of Jim Jones and Koresh and those Heaven's Gate fools was that they believed what they were peddling. Not Prince Gregor MacRadical. After the few survivors made it back from their boat trip to nowhere, most still couldn't believe MacGregor had lied to them, standing up for him in the papers and basically blaming the island for not being there. They simply could not comprehend that any one man could have balls that huge. They were wrong.
By the age today's emo kids are tripping over their first curbs on account of the hair in their eyes and the loss of circulation from their too-tight pants, Mr. Abagnale had collected over $40,000 from various banks across New York City. By the time some of you were hoping to unlatch your first bra, and for most of you, much much sooner, the man had faked his way as a university professor, lawyer, pilot and doctor. Pretty much all the occupations Cracked writers and readers are barred from entering.
By the time you and I were sleeping through our summers at home from college, whining about how boring our hometowns were and "Why can't you stay off my case, I'M ON VACATION," Frank Abagnale had already been caught by French police, served jail time in France and Sweden, was extradited to the United States, escaped from a moving damned airplane and nearly orchestrated a perfect getaway.
That's the sort of thing that inspires Hollywood to make movies about you, starring Leo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.
Once Abagnale was imprisoned, he convinced his guards that he was actually an undercover prison inspector and that he needed the privilege of having an unsupervised meeting with his FBI agent contact. Yeah, they bought it.
After finally serving five years in prison, Abagnale was released if he cooperated with the government in detecting fraud. Not one to miss a golden opportunity, he turned his specialized knowledge into a legitimate money-making machine, opening a wildly successful fraud consultation business.
This one has a happy ending: as once his businesses took off, he used his honestly-earned millions to repay those he defrauded over the years. Of course, there's always the chance that this whole phase of his life is also a scam somehow, one so convoluted that the world won't figure it out until Abagnale is leaving orbit in a spaceship full of all of the world's gold.
If you enjoy reading about history's bad boys, our run down of the The Biggest Badass Popes is probably right up your alley. Or, head over to the blog for the most surreal commercial for Japanese snack chips you're likely to see all day.
The humble toothbrush has long been ignored as a source of great, fun hacks. Only recently, with the popularity (and subsequent abandonment) of electric toothbrushes, has the toothbrush really come into its own as a hackable piece of household equipment. Whether you’ve got a brand new boring old analog toothbrush that you’re just dying to spice up or a whole drawer full of electric toothbrushes from Aunt Sally (who doesn’t seem to recall giving you one for every holiday for the last three years - WTH?), here are some fun things to keep you and your toothbrush occupied.
Don’t like the new kids’ toothbrushes that come with lame two-minute songs? Hack your very own musical toothbrush and play whatever music you like. Technically, you could just turn on the radio…but the radio wouldn’t use your skull to conduct the sound, now would it?
If you want the deep-cleaning of a $100 electric toothbrush but aren’t keen on actually spending $100 on a toothbrush, here’s how to turn your $6 electric toothbrush into a powerful cleaning machine.
This one is purely for entertainment purposes - or for tattooing bananas. Seriously, homemade tattoo gun + your skin = nasty, nasty infections.
If regular pool toys just don’t do it for you, use the waterproof motor from your electric toothbrush to make a homemade torpedo!
This is less a set of instructions than it is a 23-second video of a Lego car with a toothbrush motor strapped to it driving around in a circle. But it gives you an idea of the mind-boggling technology contained in that dormant toothbrush that’s just waiting to be unleashed upon the world.
Ever wished you could find your toothbrush in the dark? No? Well, try this anyway. You might be surprised how useful an LED toothbrush can be.
And finally, the world-famous Bristlebot. This little guy uses a simple pager motor and a single battery to provide endless hours of mindless joy for everyone within viewing distance.
London, Feb 10 : Natalie Cooper can savour all things except good, scrumptious food, for all she can eat is Tic Tacs.
The teen gets all her nourishment from a specially-formulated feed through a tube.
But the only real food her stomach will put up with are the little two-calorie mints.
"They do give me a bit of energy, but I eat them mostly to get rid of hunger. It is psychological," the Mirror quoted Natalie, as saying.
"When they started to come back up, I started reducing the size. I went from Trebor Extra Strong Mints to Polos and ended up with Tic Tacs," she added.
Her condition, which she has had all her life, has left medics puzzled.
At one point Natalie weighed only five stone, but is now back up to seven.
Experts first thought she had bulimia, but ruled that out.
"I like eating. It just comes back up," Natalie said.
(ACPA-london) Excitement is growing in the Northern England town of Huddlesfield following the news that a local man saw an image of the big-bang in a piece of toast. atheist donald chapman, 36, told local newspaper, "the huddlesfield express" that he was sitting down to eat breakfast when an unusual toast pattern caught his eye.
"i was just about to spread the butter when I noticed a fairly typical small hole in the bread surrounded by a burnt black ring. however the direction and splatter patterns of the crumbs as well as the changing shades emanating outwards from this black hole were very clearly similar to the chaotic-dynamic non-linear patterns that one would expect following the big bang". "it's the beginning of the world" he added excitedly.
Ever since news of the discovery made national headlines, local hoteliers have been overwhelmed by an influx of atheists from all over the country who have flocked to Huddlesfield to catch a glimpse of the scientific relic. "i have always been an Atheist and to see my life choices validated on a piece of toast is truly astounding" said one guest at the Huddlesfield arms hotel.
To the surprise of many, the UK national atheist association has asked its members not to pay attention to the story despite its potential to inspire less faith. "Given what the religious believe already, this is an easy sell" said one disgruntled activist who said he was going to huddlesfield anyway noting that "seeing is not believing".
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Have we learned nothing from the tragic events of 1998, when, under the watch of President Morgan Freeman, this nation was plunged into chaos, and hundreds of millions of people died at the hands of the deadly Wolf-Beiderman space rock? The mere fact that this country is even considering putting another black man, Barack Obama, in the Oval Office proves that we have not.
We can't deny the facts, people. All we will get by electing an African-American is Texas-size space particles crashing into the Earth's surface, mega-tsunamis that barrel into the Appalachian Mountains, and 6.6 billion dead people.
I'm not suggesting that President Freeman was directly responsible for the creation of the Wolf-Beiderman comet or its Earth-bound path. That would be ridiculous. What I am saying is that under the watch of a black man that comet destroyed the entire Eastern seaboard. So, if history is any indicator, a vote for Barack Obama in 2008 is essentially a vote for the complete and total obliteration of the human race.
Don't we owe it to our children, and our children's children, to use this upcoming election to guarantee the Earth's existence rather than dooming it for eternity?
To even risk putting Mr. Obama in a position where he would insist, as past black presidents have, that our nuclear arsenal is powerful enough to divert the incoming comet would be foolish, to say the least. Any decision like that would only break the fast-approaching space rock into two very powerful asteroids, both of which would end up heading straight for Earth, leaving all of us who aren't on the small list of people picked to live in the government-sponsored protective caves to burn, drown, or die while in the arms of our estranged fathers. The only difference is, this time around, the late astronaut Robert Duvall will not be alive to save millions of lives by conducting a suicide space mission to destroy the larger of the two asteroids before it enters the Earth's atmosphere.
In my book, any possible repeat of this extinction-level event is reason enough not to elect another African-American president. Consider that later that same summer, just two months after the first deep impact, this very country once again faced Armageddon in the form of another comet hurtling toward Earth. In this instance, under the watch of a white president who sort of looked like an older Dennis Quaid, that catastrophe was avoided entirely.
As if that is not enough, history shows us that, besides carrying the baggage of a guaranteed asteroid strike, black heads of state also give terrorists extra motivation to destroy the United States. During the presidency of 24's David Palmer, there were no fewer than four nuclear bombs smuggled into this country. That's four more than under any white president. Though we should have known better than to elect President Palmer in the first place (he was elected three years after President Freeman left office), the U.S. populace made him the commander in chief because it was swayed by then-Senator Palmer's commitment to change, his no-nonsense approach, and his ability to inspire. Sound familiar?†
Asteroids and nuclear bombs—that's what this nation can expect from an Obama White House.
Need I even mention that former President Chris Rock and his administration's slogan was "The only thing white is the house"? Though this attitude broke down the stuffiness typically associated with proper White House decorum, President Rock's laissez-faire approach not only made a mockery of the office at home, but made the United States look like a joke abroad.
I concede that the United States has had a competent African-American president in the huge black guy from the The Fifth Element, who did great things for this country by keeping the evil Mr. Zorg at bay. But that is years from now. There is no denying that by 2236, when we have flying taxicabs, this country will be ready for a black president. But until then, if we want life in this great land to continue as we know it, we owe it to ourselves to make the right choice and reelect Kevin Kline.