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Monday, September 10, 2007Chew Some Crazy Facts
I n the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have "the rule of thumb".
Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden"...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.
Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.
Coca-Cola was originally green.
It is impossible to lick your elbow.
The average number of people airborne over the US any given hour: 61,000
Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king in history:
Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs -Alexander, the Great
Diamonds - Julius Caesar
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural
Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?
A. One thousand
Q. What do bullet-proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?
A. All invented by women.
Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?
In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase "goodnight, sleep tight."
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down." It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"
Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they
used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.
Don't delete this just because it looks weird. Believe it or not, you can read it.
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the human mnid aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow
Money laundering is not a simple concept. It's two simple concepts, because there are two different--in fact, nearly completely opposite--activities that are called money laundering. Here's how to do both of them.
Classic Money Laundering
The classic money launderer was someone who had illicit income--drug dealer, jewel thief, con man--and worried that he'd get the Al Capone treatment and be convicted of tax evasion even if the government couldn't pin any of the underlying criminal activity on him.
If the illicit income is small--and especially if you also have a straight job that you do pay taxes on, there's no need to do any money laundering. For example, suppose you work in some cube farm that pays most of what you need to live on, but you also turn the occasional trick to bring in a hundred dollars a week. You probably don't need to launder that money. Cut down on the amount of cash you take from your paycheck and use the money from hooking to make up the difference. As long as you still take some cash from your paycheck, the government would have a hard time proving that your cash expenses exceed what you're taking from legitimate sources.
But suppose that illicit income is a bit larger. Once you've got more than a few hundred dollars a week--more than can be conveniently hidden in your ordinary cash expenses--you've got a problem. As soon as you do anything with the money--spend or invest it--it might well come to the attention of the tax man.
The solution--classic money laundering--is to create a business to ostensibly earn that money. Any business that brings in a good deal of cash will do. You run the business as usual during the day. Then, after closing, you feed in your day's illicit receipts, pretending that they'd been received by the business. In due course the business pays its taxes and all the tax man can see is that you're running an unusually profitable business.
Now, the tax man may well take an interest in such a profitable business, so it's best if it'd be hard to prove that you couldn't be doing the business you're paying taxes on. A bar, for example, wouldn't be the best choice, because you wouldn't have ordered enough booze to pour all the drinks your books will say you've sold. Coin operated laundries and car washes are classics, because the only way to prove that you hadn't actually done all that business would be to have an undercover agent surveil your place for weeks, counting every coin inserted by every customer. (Although agents have been known to subpoena the water bill and try to make the case that way.)
Modern Money Laundering
The other thing sometimes called money laundering is when you have some big lump of cash that you'd rather not have people find out about. Sometimes it's an effort to keep the money from the tax man (literally the opposite of classic money laundering), other times the goal is to keep it from coming to the attention of someone else who might feel like they have some claim to the money--an ex-spouse, a creditor, the guy who owns the land where you found the bag of gold coins in the culvert.
In this kind of money laundering, the point is to make the money disappear. This is the sort of money laundering where you might make use of foreign banks, shell companies, and so on.
There are two parts to these strategies. First, you need to make the money disappear. Second, you need to make it reappear in some gradual fashion that doesn't bring it to the attention of whoever you're trying to hide it from.
Disappearing the money
The easiest way to disappear the money, especially if it's already cash (as opposed to, let's say, silver bullion or a winning lottery ticket) is to just stash it in a safety deposit box. You miss out on any investment income, but it's safe and you know where to find it.
If you really want to be able to invest the money, get it overseas. If it's an amount that you can just carry with you, buy a vacation package to the Cayman Islands or visit your family roots in Europe and take a little side trip to Switzerland or Austria or Liechtenstein.
There are plenty of fancy, complex ways to get the money overseas, that mostly require an accomplice. The most basic is an invoice scam. Establish a business that imports or exports something. Meet with your customer or supplier and arrange with him to either over-pay or under-bill, and then to have your counterpart deposit (most of) the excess into your foreign bank account. An ongoing scheme is good, because the guy knows that the lucrative cash flow will stop if you find out the money isn't getting deposited as it should, but you can also work this as a one-shot deal if your counterpart can be trusted.
Banks used to help their good customers get money discretely overseas, but nowadays there are a bunch of laws against such things, and bankers are particularly averse to going to jail for their customers. Expect them to refused to get involved and to rat you out.
Reappearing the money
Now we're basically back into classic money laundering territory.
If you stashed a duffel bag full of cash it in a safety deposit box (or under your bed), all you need to do is pull out a few bills now and then when you're heading out for a night on the town. You can raise your standard of living modestly. Alternatively, you could increase the amount that's going into your 401(k) and then use the cash to keep your standard of living about the same--gradually turning the hidden money into above-board money.
If you've got the money overseas somewhere, bring it back in some way that makes it legit. The easiest would be to create an overseas company that then hires you to do something. You do whatever it is and send an invoice whenever you want some cash. You can also reverse the invoice scam that let you get the money overseas in the first place--now you under-pay (or over-bill), while making up the difference out of your foreign bank account. A third option is a fake loan where you "borrow" the money and then simply fail to pay the money back.
Instant disappear-reappear cycles
If you can't wait to reappear the money gradually, and the amount involved isn't too big, you can always use a simple casino scam. Go to a casino and buy some chips. Do a little low-risk gambling. (For example, bet each chip, one at a time, on red. Do that 20 or 30 times and you'll have about the same amount you started with.) Get a few more chips and repeat. Play a few different games (blackjack, craps, slots). Ideally, go to several different casinos and repeat the whole process there. Eventually, cash in all your chips and go home with a story about how you won a bunch of money at roulette. Pay taxes on your winnings.
There are lots of laws against money laundering as a general category and against specific techniques used in money laundering.
If your income is already illegal, breaking one more law may not expose you to much additional risk, but it might, and it might give the government a case that they can prove, rather than one they can't.
You're required to report cash or other bearer instruments (travelers checks, for example, but not gold coins or checks payable to a specific individual) that you carry into or out of the US. Similarly, banks are required to report large transactions (and to keep records of smaller ones).
If you have a foreign bank account, you're required to report it on your taxes each year. Also, if your foreign investments make any income, you're required to pay taxes on it each year (not just when you bring the money back).
Every time you don't declare the income, don't pay the tax due, lie on a form, or fail to file a required form, you're committing a crime.
All these money laundering crimes have large fines and long prison sentences. I recommend against them. I also recommend against expecting anyone else to be willing to commit these crimes for you--expect that any accomplices are really either Federal agents, or else will call Federal agents at the first opportunity.
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?
If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.
I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert.
Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts. It pays to learn the warning signs.
What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.
Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses."
How many people are introverts? I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—"a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population."
Are introverts misunderstood? Wildly. That, it appears, is our lot in life. "It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert," write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. (They are also the source of the quotation in the previous paragraph.) Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping.
Are introverts oppressed? I would have to say so. For one For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered "naturals" in politics.
Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, "Don't you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?" (He is also supposed to have said, "If you don't say anything, you won't be called on to repeat it." The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself.)
With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. "People person" is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like "guarded," "loner," "reserved," "taciturn," "self-contained," "private"—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.
Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours. "Introverts," writes a perceptive fellow named Thomas P. Crouser, in an online review of a recent book called Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? (I'm not making that up, either), "are driven to distraction by the semi-internal dialogue extroverts tend to conduct. Introverts don't outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness." Just so.
The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."
How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.
Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What's the matter?" or "Are you all right?"
Third, don't say anything else, either.