The Sting (Part 3)


If you’ve come late to the party or just need a refresher here’s  PART 1  and PART 2 .

My fun-filled (for me) quest to scam the scammer who emailed me with the promise of unlocking a metal trunk containing $4 million endured for a total of 26 emails exchanged across 9 days.

We rejoin the frolicks beginning with email number 15 –

Ok, but we will take it slowly until you get your money Glen.

I will give you my personal number sooner.

Have a wonderful day dear. 


Playing the part of a love-starved tragic for all it was worth, I shot back with –

Your ‘personal’ number Katie?

Now you’re talking dirty!

Since we are getting to know each other better, could we start using pet names for each other?

If you feel comfortable doing it, I like to be called ‘Bumpkins’.

May I call you ‘Sweet Pea’?


Now it was time to get my first dressing down from ‘Kate’. Because if it’s one thing a true scam artist insists on at all times and that’s keeping it professional.

Dear Glen, 

What’s that all about “Bumpkins”?

Kindly step it down a notch.

If giving you my personal number makes me dirty then I will not.

I hope you are doing great anyways.

Mr. Badenhorst will be paying the fee today. 

I will keep you posted.


Was I going to let a little reprimand from by beloved scamming ‘Kate’ come between us and possibly stop me wasting even more of her/his time. Not on your life! She did say ‘Step it UP a notch’… didn’t she?

Hello Sweet Pea,

I want to take our relationship to the next level Katie.

And the money? Forget it. It is your love I yearn for.

I am in love with you now and I doubt the spell can be broken.

Yours forever,


Ps. Don’t tell Badenhorst about us. He may be jealous.

This is how I picture ‘Kate’, ‘Katie’ or ‘Catherine’ may actually have looked in real life –


The person variously calling themselves ‘Kate’, ‘Katie’ and ‘Catherine’ in all likelihood probably came sporting face stubble and chest hair.

The next email that arrived from ‘Katie’ marked a turning point on at least two fronts –

(1) ‘She’ had conceded to my request to use pet names for each other (when this happened I knew I’d truly struck comedy gold)

(2) The scammer had decided the time was right to finally reveal their hand and request payment of $3000 in order that the mythical metal trunk containing the equally non-existent $4 million be released from customs. What a giggle!

Hello Bumpkins,

I appreciate your affection and will never let Mr. Badenhorst know closer now, but you already made it obvious you have something for me with the way you talked to him that you want to deal only with me.

My boss hasn’t time getting jealous, he is much interested in the successful completion of this transaction and he is working very hard on it, so I will advise you to be focused to follow his directives and sooner than later we will meet ourselves.

As earlier stated, he has paid the Non Inspection fees of $3,200 which caused the initial hold up. After making the payment, he was required by the customs to settle the accumulated demurrage fee of $6,640.00 otherwise clearance will not be issue for final delivery to you, and the delivery department will not board the luggage. 

He has been battling this issue with them since early morning after the payment trying to convince the customs to allow the shipment to be made and for him to be held responsible for paying the fee within two days of delivery, but to no avail. 

The extra fund he was able to source was not also accepted as part payment which left us in dilemma since today because no one envisaged this turn of event.

So we are now left with only about $3,600 which the customs refused to accept as part payment and allow the delivery for the balance to be paid later.

It is imperative for you to support us at this point, so that we can make this payment as required to avoid delay and additional demurrage charges.

We have also made frantic efforts to get financial assistance and still waiting for feedback. But I want you to be updated, so that you can add to our effort since so far what is available is $3,600, requiring an additional $3,000. Let me know how much you have so that it will be easier and faster for to source and complete the balance.

Find attached payment receipt for Non inspection.



Cue me, in classic poker-playing tradition, calling ‘Katie’s’ bluff –

Hi Sweet Pea,


If it costs me a few thousand to secure your heart then it will be worth it, my love.

First though, I would like to see what you look like.

I wish to see if my mental picture of you as a ravishing beauty with high cheekbones, full lips and a Hollywood nose matches the real person who’s been sending me these delicious emails.

Are you able to send me through a photo of yourself?




In this next email, at my request, I’m still being called ‘Bumpkins’ by fraudster ‘Kate’. That’s the good news. But wait! Here ‘she’ goes again trying to remain all professional by insisting business and personal be kept separate. Sorry ‘Kate‘, but with the likes of you, that’s not how I roll…

Hello Bumpkins,

You are really funny and exciting. But I am sorry I can’t send you my picture in order for you to do what you are supposed to do. I will do that in due course. We can get to knowing ourselves better as time goes on but attaching any part of your business condition on our perceived relationship is not what I will do please.

Let me know if you have the needed balance or how much of it you have so that the demurrage could be paid in time for the delivery which I almost certain I will accompany. They you can see me.  I will surely send you my pictures before I set off to make the delivery at Australia.
You can be fast about it because Mr. Badenhorst negotiated for payback of the non inspection fee, so he may call of the transaction and take all his money back if he has no help. He confided this in me. He would have told you directly, but he sees you as a jerk. Sorry about that, but you shouldn’t have talked to him that way in your mail. I am doing my best to manage the bad blood you created with that mail. So you are not helping with the fee, he will definitely call it off. 

I await your prompt response.

Yours Sincerely,

Bad blood indeed!

Turns out cranky BADenhorst really knew how to hold a grudge. Who would have guessed such a well-meaning, kind-hearted and downright helpful (he was, after all, going to go to a lot of personal effort to get a metal trunk containing $4 million through customs all for me – a person he’d never personally met) would be that way?

The writing was definitely on the wall by this late stage…

Hi Catherine, (formerly known as Sweet Pea, Katie and Kate),

It seems our love is fading.

You speak only in terms of business and money.

My heart sheds tears of sadness for lost opportunities between us.

And no photo?

When you threaten to “call it off”, I ask in return “Call what off?”

Our blossuming love has barely had a chance to sprout like the geranium seed I spoke of several emails back.

Alas, I am so confused right now.

Bummed out Bumpkins

The final email I ever received from ‘Kate’ came a few hours later. It completed an entertaining  (I thought) nine-day exchange between the two of us –

Stop confusing yourself.

I sent you a mail from my boss about a business and you started getting funny ideas. There are several dating sites if you need a date and not try to pollute business ethics with conceited love affair. 

I never contacted you about a date so why are you changing the business to your pervertted mentality? 

Good bye if that is what you mean. It’s business and can’t be missed with pleasure. Men work to make money before pleasure but you are putting the cat before the horse. 

Me put the CAT before the horse? THAT is something I would definitely never do. And there ‘she’ goes again lecturing me about business ethics without even the tiniest hint of irony. I recognise comedy gold when I see it and this is 24 carat.

There was only one thing left for me to do and that was to say goodbye…

Oh gosh..

I think I’ve really blown it this time.

Love is blind and it appears the cat has indeed been put before the horse and both are pulling a rickety cart with one wheel in the ditch while tumbleweeds blow this way and that (but mostly in a southerly direction). 

It seems what ever we had between us is now lost.

I will slink away silently now into the night like some kind of wounded animal (raccoon? beaver? alleycat?) and alas I shall never darken your email doorstop again.

Your heartbroken Bumpkins.

Ps. Don’t suppose you know any LEGITIMATE business that can mend a broken heart?


And that, dear readers, was THE GAME.

You may say “You might have succeeded in wasting a lot of the scammers time but you wasted a lot of your OWN time doing it”. Thing is – sad to say – I had the time to waste (six weeks of paid holidays to be exact) and the big difference between myself and ‘Kate’ was I knew from the beginning how it was going to end.


I was ready to hang up my pranking boots and draw the curtain on the whole caper, when, less than 24 hours later, this email – from a completely unrelated source – landed in my spam folder –

Dear Beloved,

I greet you in the name of the Lord.

Saw your profile on Google and moved to write you believing you are capable to handle this for me and God.

I am Mrs. Beatrice Potters, 65yrs from USA but now undergoing medical treatment in London. I was married to late Mr. Alex Potters.We were married for eleven years without a child.

My late husband deposited the sum of US$7,506,420.00 with British Arab Commercial Bank and that’s the reason my late husband’s relatives hates and wants me dead to claim this fund. I will send you details as soon as you indicate your interest in capable of claiming the funds and use this money to help orphanage homes to fulfil God
words in my life.

I will also issue you a letter of authority that will make you the beneficiary of this fund. I want you to always pray for me because the lord is the only strength I have but my happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. I don’t need any telephone communication as i am in the hospital.

Please assure me that you will act accordingly to my will.

Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.

Yours in Christ,
Mrs. Beatrice Potters


Ps. There’s always time for one last scam. Right?

A school down in Victoria has been rocked by revelations a parent of one of its students has been running a clandestine Uber-Eats style delivery service at lunchtimes under the noses of teachers and senior staff.

The mother has defended her actions by saying it is a push-back against the enforced ‘healthy eating’ menu recently introduced at the schools tuckshop which has proved  less than popular with many students and parents.

You can feast on the whole story HERE .



The Sting (Part 2)


Since this is the continuing 2nd part of a three-part series of posts, let’s begin with a brief recap from last time. Fed up with mountains of spam emails flooding my inbox each week, I decided to enact some good-natured revenge on the scam artists on behalf of all similarly afflicted email users.

The plan was simple. I would choose an email promising me riches beyond my wildest dreams, feign interest in what they had to say and in the process attempt to waste as much of their time as possible. I took inspiration for my mischief-making scheme from the likes of on-line videos such as this one –

By the time I’d finished, a total of 26 emails across nine days had been exchanged between myself and the not-so-bright fraudster at the other end. This person claimed to be female (something I’m pretty certain wasn’t true). Gender then would provide me with the angle I needed.

As our conversations across the days unfolded, I cranked out my very best ♥♥ ‘lonely hearts’ ♥♥ persona and managed to pretend to become totally besotted by this person. The aim was to gradually move our exchanges more and more away from the business side of things and more on to talk about ‘us’.  Part 1 can be found HERE.


Now bring on Part 2

My Dear Glen,

I have seen your details, I will hand it to Mr. Badenhorst as soon as I am at work in less than two hours to start processing the release of your luggage to you.

Have blessed new day.

Yours Sincerely,
Ms. Catherine Bessant.

Badenhorst. Great name eh? I never did get to meet him put I pictured him in my mind looking something like this –


I fully realize positioning the word SCAM not once but twice next to my mind’s image of Badenhorst does absolutely nothing to enhance his credibility but with a name like BADenhorst I figured he was kind of behind the eight ball from the beginning.

I  further gilded the honey trap with an encouraging follow-up.

Hi Catherine,

Things are moving along nicely.


Catherine then takes the time, God bless her, to wish me a swell day…

Hello Glen,

Mr. Anderson have completed all the necessary forms and waiting for some authorization. He will write you with more details. I don’t know if you have already heard from him, but expect to hear from him.

I hope you had a swell day.


Time for me to shoot cupid’s arrow… (This is gonna get weird!)


Hi Catherine,

‘Swell’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

Hearing from you is uplifting, exciting and right royal all rolled into one.


Next came the following email from Big Daddy BADenhorst himself –


Good evening Mr. Glen Donaldson,

My secretary Ms. Bessant has been corresponding between us because from you mail you prefer communication with her. You are at liberty to always communicate with her, but there are certain aspects of the transaction I must communicate with you in person that is why I am writing you now.

I received your contact details and have commenced processing of the release of the trunk box to you. 

Everything is working out well. So far I have completed the necessary release forms with our vaulting department and same have been submitted to the US International Airport Vaulting Headquarters here in JFK.

I have the money to pay the non-inspection fee and I am waiting for approval to make the payment as soon as that is granted. When that is done, I will pay the Non-Inspection fee and secure release of the shipment and notify you with delivery details.

I will let you know.

Yours Respectfully,,
Mr. Willem Badenhorst.
Phone. +1 (917) 473 0062.

NB. I will give you a call now.

Big Daddy Baddie may have signed off with ‘Yours Respectfully’ but things were about to turn sour between him and I (along with my dear Catherine)…

Willem do not, I repeat do not call me.

I will only deal with the beautiful creature known as Catherine.



The next day came this from ‘Kate’

Hello Dear Glen,

Thanks for this beautiful mail. I hope your day is going on well. It’s good to hear from you too.
Mr. Badenhorst asked me to call to reconfirm your number, but it was picked by a woman who didn’t hear me well. I tried sending you sms but it didn’t go through. Kindly reconfirm your phone number please. Especially the one you can use to receive text messages. 
He said he wrote you and got insulted, and so wouldn’t want to interfere between us again. I might as well be the one to make the delivery to you when the time is ripe.
Meanwhile approval has been granted for the payment of the non-inspection fee to facilitate the delivery of your consignment.
The fee will be paid before the end of this week since Mr. Willem Badenhorst will make up the money shortly and make the payment.


Time to lay it on nice ‘n thick. The phone number is of course another falsie…


When you permit me to call you Kate, I know the trust is building – like a geranium seed that may one day come into full bloom. I don’t mind admitting that checking my inbox for an email from you has now become a highlight of my day. There was a connection between us from the start so why deny it?

And who needs that big bad Mr Badenhorst when we have each other, right?


Call me on (07) 5656 9111 and don’t tell Badenhorst about us!

Just when things are starting to hotten up… it’s time to conclude Part 2.

Tune in next week for the concluding chapter when all will be revealed about Big Bad Baddenhorst, Dear Kate and the promised metal trunk containing the knee-slapping $4 million.


Ps. On a completely unrelated note, hands up anyone who remembers that woeful Kevin Costner movie (and blatant Mad Max ripoff) from back in 1995, WATERWORLD?

I spied a collection of spoof movie posters recently all proposing one change to really bad movies that would have made them so much better. Considering I spoke in glowing terms about AQUAMAN back in January (HERE) I thought it only fitting to show you how with just one little modification WATERWORLD could have been so much better –




The Sting


If your junk email inbox is anything like mine, then like me, every week you too are forced to employ nothing short of heavy-duty earth-moving equipment to clear away the mountain of excrescence that has built up over the preceding seven days.


You KNOW the type of ooze I’m referring to – emails from the ‘Healthy Hearing Institute’, the dodgy loan companies you’ve never heard of, the unnamed organizations offering everything from denture upgrades, military flashlights, home roofing deals and butt enhancement cream (ok, so I clicked on that one) to diabetic strips for cash, medical ‘cannabliss’, all manner of rubbish gift cards, as well as the stock standard bogus blood pressure alerts and naturally enough that old chestnut – weight loss products by the barrel full.

That’s nothing to say of the linguistically challenged red flags whose minimalist subject headings always read something like ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Good morning’ or the most annoying of all ‘What’s Up?’ (but never with a capital ‘W’). There’s regular droppings from Casino4You, Bitcoin and Huggle Hoodie Offer as well as the ‘Private Message for You’ type. The so-called ‘Russian Beauties’ who claim to want to meet me are pretty persistent as well.

Most conniving of them all however is the offal whose subject heading begins ‘Re:’, giving the impression they’re responding to a message you sent them.  I bet they think they’re so clever and maybe they were a couple of years back when that type of deception first appeared but really… that guile is so 2015 the dimwits really ought to have come up with something new by now. (Other tricks in their arsenal – the ‘ol CONGRAULATIONS! subject heading as well as the emails asking you to confirm an order for something you know you’ve never made).

There’s absolutely no point as well in me requesting the person who calls themselves ‘Backdoor 66’ to cease sending me the crude invites. ‘Cause every time I click  ‘Unsubscribe’ you can bet the house what I’m actually doing – according to the twisted logic at work within the vast scamiverse – is precisely the reverse ie. confirming my renewed interest in continuing to receive this blather.


I got to thinking – and after ploughing through that rogues gallery roll-call of unsolicited detritus listed above I’m quite sure you’d agree – a little bit of payback was long overdue.

The plan was simple. I would choose an email promising me riches beyond my wildest dreams, feign interest in what they had to say and in the process attempt to waste as much of their time as possible. The blueprint for my ‘scam the scammer’ little rouse was the video I’ve included below. It goes for close to 10 minutes but if you can stay with it it definitely delivers on laughs and the slightly snide warm inner glow that comes with comeuppance.

Yeah, love even just the sound of that word… comeuppance!


In truth, the internet is littered with stories and videos of people getting their own back against admittedly not-so-bright scam artists. As always the first question is “Where’s the game?, something I ask myself regularly.

In the end, a total of 26 emails across nine days were exchanged between myself and the flippy fraudster I chose to engage. This person claimed to be female (something I’m pretty certain wasn’t true). Gender then would provide me with the angle I needed.

As our conversations across the days unfolded, I cranked out my very best  ‘lonely hearts’ persona and managed to pretend to become totally besotted by this person. The aim was to gradually move our exchanges more and more away from the business side of things and more on to talk about ‘us’.

And I’m pleased to say, things worked out quite well in this regard. A lot of time and effort was outlayed by this swindling shark for zero reward.

It all started with this unsought email I received from a person calling themselves Catherine Bessant

Hello Dear Friend,

I am Ms. Catherine Bessant deputy to Mr. Willem Badenhorst the head of luggage/baggage storage facilities at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY USA.

In our last withheld-package routine check at the Airport Storage facility, we discovered an abandoned Metal Trunk Box prior to state confiscation, and decided to electronically scan it and ascertain its content.
When scanned, it revealed US Dollar, but due to the extreme security and seals of the metal trunk box, we could not ascertain the amount it inside, but I am sure it wouldn’t be less than 4 million dollars.

If you are interested I need your prompt response in order to update your information in the general waybill ledger, and we will take care of the United States Non Inspection Fee of 3,200.00 USD as well as arrange for the delivery and handover to you to you. If you can be fair enough, you will part with 40% of the money to us for our effort, while you take 60%.

However, to facilitate processing and delivery to you as the recipient, I want you to provide your complete names, Phone Number and delivery Address to affect the official documents. Also include the name of the nearest Airport around your city.

As a result of the sensitivity of this deal, we will not transact with our official email account or phone. So send your response through this my private email address or through the email address of Mr. Willem Badenhorst as he will be communicating directly with you as my boss.

We can get everything concluded within 5 working days upon your acceptance of the terms with an immediate feedback.

You can always call me on Mr. Badenhorsts telephone number: +1 (917) 473 0062 or drop sms if he is not available to accept your call.

Ms. Catherine Bessant.


I responded the next day with a ‘hard of hearing’ old-school clarifyer –

Hi Catherine,

How much did you say was in the metal trunk?


What followed was an attempt at what’s known in the trickster trade as a ‘handover’ to another person (supposedly higher up the clown-infested pecking order).

Mr. Donaldson,

please contact my boss Mr. Willem Badenhorst or I will have him contact you.
Phone: +1 (917) 473 0062

Mrs. Bessant

I declined the offer to deal with someone else and so commenced my plan to bit by bit romantically connect with ‘Catherine’

No Catherine.

I prefer to deal with the likes of you.


Feeling like the fish may just have climbed on to the end of the hook and my plan was beginning to gain steam,‘Catherine’ appeared fine with this and replied in this long-winded fashion –

Good Evening Dear Glen Donaldson,

I have shown your mails to my boss and your desire to be dealing directly with me. That is fine by me since my boss is also fine with it. 

Thank you for your response and understanding. As I stated in the first mail you received, I will commence negotiation with the airport vault authority for the release of the withheld luggage to you since we are on the same page now.

The starting point is getting approval to pay the US Non Inspection Charges of $3,200 on your behalf. Inability to make that payment initially was the main reason the consignment was withheld by the Airport authority.

If approval is given I will pay the fee, and negotiate for the release of the luggage to you, and as soon as I am able to clear the major release requirements, I shall make arrangement for final delivery to you.

You have to assure me once again that my own share of the money as agreed will be given to me as I undertake processing the release of the luggage on your behalf.

You know it is easy to make promises in the absence of tangible reality, so please I want you to respect my part of this effort, while I promise to do my best to pay all the needed fees, and work out a plan to ensure I am with the delivery department when hand over will be made to you. If not, I will have to depend on your sincere magnanimity and charity to get my part. But I will do anything I can to be with the courier department when it will be delivered to you or even be with you before the delivery is done. I hope you understand.

Once again to ensure the full protection of our persons since it is only you and I that know the content of the box so far, I would respectfully request for confidentiality. I want you to keep the contents of our communication confidential since I will be retiring soon and wouldn’t want to end up risking my pension and retirement benefits, or lose this opportunity. So I would strongly advise you to be discrete as ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’.

You should provide your contact address, phone number and nearest airport for processing to commence.

Yours Sincerely,
Ms, Catherine Bessant; for
Mr. Willem Badenhorst

Use of the adage ‘loose lips sink ships‘ was the first of many unintended crackups from ‘Catherine’. In turn I replied with some false details of my own –

Hi Catherine,

This is starting to get exciting!

My details are as follows –

23 Orchid Avenue

Surfers Paradise 4217

(07) 56 57 6888

I would prefer to transact through the Gold Coast Airport.


Ps. With you 100% on the ‘loose lips sink ships’ thing and therefore agree with the decision to go via plane.


And that brings to an end Part 1 of THE STING.

Tune in next week for the continuing adventures of Catherine, myself and the mythical abandoned metal trunk containing the even more mythical unclaimed $4 million.



I haven’t seen it myself yet but from the first-hand reports I’ve been getting from people who have, Nicole Kidman‘s new undercover cop movie DESTROYER is next level hard-core, gritty and downright ghoulish.

Last time I remember something being given the title DESTROYER was rock group KISS‘s fourth studio album back in ’76. That turned out well for those guys so let’s see how critical reception lands for Nicole.

Funny Bones


Tomorrow is Jerry Lewis’s birthday.

The iconic comedian passed away two years ago at the age of 91.

As the cliché goes, he lives long in my memory.

His career as an actor, film director, stand-up comedian, producer and screen writer spanned eight decades.

I loved him as a kid and if I was to think back over my all-time favourite comedians, Jerry Lewis would come out on top from a list boasting the likes of Dave Allan, Woody Allen, Tim Allen, Richard Pryor, Benny Hill, Chris Farley, Don Rickles, Warwick Davis (all 107 centimetres of him), Mel Brooks, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Kevin James, Peter Sellers, Jack Black, Don Knotts, Martin Lawrence, Paul Hogan, George Burns, Jay Leno, Phyliss Diller and Peter Sellers.

Comedy is subjective. One person’s comedy mastermind is another person’s Adam Sandler. But for me, Jerry Lewis was King.

Not many people I know remember him these days so I’m happy to be the one to pay tribute. His films never seemed to get the full recognition they deserved (he failed to be nominated for a single Academy Award) and he was more popular throughout Europe and in particular France than he was in his native U.S.A. Many folk just simply didn’t ‘get’ Jerry Lewis.

Those factors made me love him even more.

As an adult, I’ve read enough stories about him to know I may not have liked him that much in real life. (Don’t click here if you want to remember Jerry fondly) That doesn’t diminish in any way my love for his films and performances.

On the eve of the anniversary of his birthday, here are my Top Ten Favourite Jerry Lewis movies


As cruel as it was to relegate Lewis’s recognised masterpiece THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963) to second spot, my true heart belongs to the work of comedy genius he produced, directed and starred in 49 years ago WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT?

Lewis plays the role of Brendan Byers III, a rich playboy who forms his own privately financed army platoon during World War 2. He and his men travel to the front lines where the plan is he will impersonate and take the place of a German General just long enough to order a troop retreat.

In the clip below, Jerry Lewis as Brendan Byers is attempting to learn German in preparation for his impersonation of that German Army General. If nothing else, watching this scene should prove beyond any doubt that what makes me laugh may make you, well… not laugh. Or cringe. Or at the very least doubt my bona fides as a judge of quality mirth making material.

Here goes anyway…

Now that wasn’t so bad was it?

Here’s the other nine films that round out my list…




And because I couldn’t find space for it in that collection here is a clip from another of my favourites THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY (1964) which underlines the case for why Jerry Lewis was a master of non-verbal comedy and what used to go by the name of ‘mugging’ (ie. contorting one’s ‘mug’ or face in the name of laughter – think Jim Carrey.)

The over-talkative patient in this scene being wheeled around by Lewis’s orderly is played to perfection by actress Alice Pearce (1917 -1966) who played the nosy neighbour Gladys Kravitz for three seasons of BEWITCHED (1964 – 1972).

This is hypochondria played for laughs…

Jerry Lewis appeared /starred in more than 60 films including his last, MAX ROSE (2016) as well as the documentary METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS (2011).


If you’d like to get a sense of the esteem with which Jerry Lewis is held in the world of comedy by the likes of such professional funny men as Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase as well as film director Steven Spielberg, take a look at the trailer inserted below for the documentary METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS.

Ps. I really have saved the best for last with this bonus clip.

It’s long at seven minutes but if you consider yourself a connoisseur of the art of comic timing and delivery then this time will literally fly. This scene is taken from the 1961 movie THE LADIES MAN.

Jerry Lewis plays the part of a young man who, fresh from a breakup with his girlfriend, swears off romance and then takes a job at a genteel, women-only boarding house.

In this scene he greets a gangster who has dropped by the house to see his lady friend.

Seeing this again reminds me of another aspect of Lewis’s films I always loved so much – the small band of sublimely talented character actors he surrounded himself with and used over and over in small roles in so many of his movies. The gangster in this scene is played by Buddy Lester (1915 – 2002) who appeared in five of Lewis’s films (four of which feature in my Top Ten listing).

Enjoy this.

Enjoy this as I unashamably wheel out the wobbly-wheeled cliche cart one last time and declare – ‘They don’t make ’em like this any more.’

They really don’t.







Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything (Part 2)


If gift giving was an Olympic 100 metre race I’d still be on the starter’s block gathering my thoughts by the time everyone else was huffing and puffing ‘hands on hips’ style down the other end.

That’s my way of saying handing over the perfect present to another person is something I’ve never been very good at.

This I admitted last week.

But buying a special something for that person who already has everything anyway is a whole next-level kind of difficult.

Difficult, but with the suggestions that follow, not impossible…


You can never be too sure if you’re making a good investment with real estate here on Earth, so why not think outside the box? And by outside the box, I naturally mean outside the atmosphere. Clint Eastwood, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks and George Lucas are amongst the folk who all legally own an acre of Lunar land.




Hours of fun.  Apparently.





Drinking 8 cups of water a day is recommended. The only problem is water is boring. Not with this ‘smart cup’ it’s not. It uses three different senses to fool your brain into believing there’s a party going on in your mouth whereas in actuality it’s only plain ‘ol H2O.




With this gift your friend who  seemingly has everything can learn things about their home they never wanted to know. When mixed and sprayed onto an area, and illuminated with ultraviolet light, it will reveal the presence of blood or other fluids the naked eye can’t detect. They might not thank you.




Everyone may well march to the tune of a different beat but with these percussion-enhanced duds you’ll be the head of the orchestra.




Don’t give that temperamental friend just the cold shoulder. Give them the entire whole body cold-therapy treatment you know they deserve.




Why not go ahead and make the day of the friend who assures you they want absolutely nothing on their special occasion. The ultimate in bullseye-hitting present giving.




If your friend has everything they need then they surely have plenty of things to stash away in this time capsule. Dig it up together sometime in the future and laugh about primitive life in the olden days when we used things like the iPhone 8. This model is waterproof and comes with a 200 year guaranteed life. A companion gift is your old skool metal detector so you can find where you buried it all those years ago.




One of the things that most people, especially little boys, did growing up was play in the kindergarten sandbox with bulldozers, backhoes and the like. So, unless they made a career out of it, there’s a good chance that the full scale version might just tap into some pleasant memories and unrealised ambitions. You can even buy a Season Pass for unlimited access to excavator, bulldozer and wheel loader heaven.




This is the first of its kind, so your friend with everything will definitely not have this. Not sure if this robot chef will put on a temper tantrum if the almonds are not fully activated or speak condescendingly of the people eating its food, but it can probably be programmed that way if it pleases the owner.



And then there’s this…

Regifting? Recycling? Or Neighbour Abuse?

You decide.


 Ps. I’ve often dreamt of writing the greatest book in the world but it appears someone has beaten me to the punch. Not just ‘someone’ but renowned Victorian children’s author Matt Porter, who is certainly no stranger to the goings on around SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK  (Mind meld with Matt here)  has just released a new picture book called THE GREATEST BOOK IN THE WORLD.

And as far as book titles go this is definitely not one to be taken lightly! Here’s a little taste…



Gifts for the Person who has everything (Part 1)


I admit it.

I’m really bad at gift giving.

I may have fantasized about the look of delirious happiness and surprise on a friend or loved one’s face after they opened my ‘perfect’ present to them, along with imagining their gushing response (“You really know me! This was so thoughtful!”) but in reality I’m a ‘gift-card’ cop-out sort-of-guy through and through and have been for many a year.

I can remember back to a time, however, when I briefly had the midas touch as a gift giver. Literally every present I bestowed on a friend would hit the satisfaction bullseye with the accuracy of Robin Hood. When you’re ten years old and growing up in the 1970’s, a $2 matchbox car or a $3 plastic cap gun was all you needed to be a dead-set friend pleaser complete with the wish-granting powers of an Aladdin-style genie.

These days as an adult it’s infinitely more difficult.

The odds are stacked against anyone with pretensions of being the sort of present giver who hits the high notes and moves the orchestra to fire up in appreciation. Afterall, your average adult by the time they’ve reached the age of let’s say forty, has acquired not only a whole house (possibly multi-storey) full of ‘stuff’ but a garage and backyard shed as well equally stacked to the ceiling with both life’s necessities and useless trinkets.

Difficult, but with this list as your inspiration, certainly not impossible.

Try these ‘out of the (gift) box’ ideas on for size…


Apparently this stuff really works. Gross it may be but hey, beauty demands sacrifices. I prefer the activated charcoal masks myself.




Many, many people slaved away making these lollipops under great duress. Possibly the most satisfying flavour of all time.




The Japanese may be famous for creating miniatures, but with this astronomically correct creation it would appear they’ve outdone themselves. Just a pity no one sends letters anymore.



I’ll freely admit to taking a special pleasure in popping the real thing back as a teenager. This is a simulation that approximates one of the truly simple pleasures of life. As addictive as popping bubble wrap but without the sound fx.




I don’t play golf but I do drink a variety of liquids. There’s a lot of people who combine the two while having a day out on the green. This quirky (ok, creepy and ridiculous) convenience device would make the perfect gift for just that person.




 Color the cat and dye the dog in nearly every color imaginable. It even comes in brown for some reason!



self toaster

A true breakfast game-changer and one designed to leave a lasting impression.




Cute, weird or somewhere in between?




When a mountain of ego like American rapper Kanye West says something outrageous like “I need a room full of mirrors so I can be surrounded by winners” can anyone deny their first thought is to give that type of excrescence the same treatment they’d give a Bachelor’s Degree or treasured training certificate and frame it? Well I can and you can but there are people out there who might actually consider it. And one of them might just be that friend who has everything.




To hell with the idea of a more huggable world! This is all about harmless revenge and releasing those feelings of angst upon a helpless inanimate object. Feels good or your money back.

For the friend who has everything eh?

Nah, it only SEEMS like that person has everything.


Ps. What gift could you bestow upon someone whose latest movie has just won the Best Picture Oscar? Tough question to answer but there can be no doubt a director who’s capable of delivering the comic masterpieces (too complimentary you dare to suggest?) SHALLOW HAL and DUMB AND DUMBER is long overdue to receive their deserved place in the sun, recognition wise.


Apart from his many movies, Peter Farrelly is also the author of the classic 1998 semi-autobiographical novel THE COMEDY WRITER about a young man who quits his sales job in New England and moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a comedic screenwriter.


And since this concluding thread has been in praise of Hollywood ‘Man of the Moment’ Peter Farrelly and his many fine creative works, I will mention nothing of the at very best sporadically mildly amusing and definitely eighteen years too late DUMB AND DUMBER TO (2014).

Absolutely nothing.








Family Matters


I’ve read a total of nine books previously on the subject of Charles Manson and his murderous 1960’s cult known as ‘The Family’.

I’m a little afraid to think exactly what that says about me. I’ll put that small matter to one side for the moment. 

Back in September last year I released a list of my all-time favourite TOP 50 BOOKS (HERE). Standing atop of that list, at number one, was an account of what was known back in 1969 as the Tate/LaBianca murders.

Published in 1974, HELTER SKELTER was written by the prosecuting attorney who successfully put Manson behind bars for the crimes. No book I’ve read before or since has gripped me quite to the extent that book did.


Capture 2

Capture 3

These are the  nine books I’ve already read on the Manson Family Murders. If anyone wants to play Sigmund Freud and suggest what taking an interest as great as that in a subject such as this says about me, go right ahead. Just please don’t tell me.  I’m pretty sure I’d be too horrified to find out!

MEMBER OF THE FAMILY written by Dianne Lake and published only last year, is, along with Vincent Bugliosi’s seminal HELTER SKELTER, easily the best book I have read on this subject. And given the vast quantities of literature and things posing as literature that have passed before my eyes on this subject over the years, that’s  a claim I definitely don’t make lightly.

Books written by mere journalists on the Manson phenomena (Charles Manson passed away at the age of 83 in November 2017) are a dime a dozen. I say that because there are literally dozens and dozens and dozens of published books written about this person and subject; a person and subject that passed into popular culture five decades ago and has remained there ever since. Books written by people who were actually THERE – under Manson’s spell – doing his bidding – and who lived to tell the tale – are an infinitely rarer and more precious commodity.

Dianne Lake’s masterfully poignant ‘fly on the wall’ memoir MEMBER OF THE FAMILY is in that last category. It sits at the very head of the throne as far as authentic, touching, insightful and historically accurate accounts go. And try to keep in mind as you read that heaving praise that it’s coming from a person who thought he knew all there was to know about this tragic part of 20th Century American crime history. This book is nothing short of a revelation!


Dianne Lake was fourteen years old the day she was introduced to 33 year-old prison parolee Charles Manson. They made love together later that same night. The circumstances both personal and in a wider societal context that allowed that to happen are what this book so insightfully and at times painfully lays bare.

MEMBER OF THE FAMILY is divided into three sections entitled “Turn On”‘Tune In” and “Drop Out”. This was a counter-culture era phrase that became a slogan for a whole generation of alternate-minded youth (hippies) from 1966 through to the mid seventies.

The first section of the book details how Dianne’s parents came to embrace the free-thinking hippie lifestyle when she was around the age of 10. They eventually sold the family home and packed everyone (Dianne was the oldest of three children) and all their belongings into a modified bread truck. They travelled around California leading a largely nomadic existence. During this time Dianne was exposed to hallucinogenic drugs and witnessed group sex due to the types of people her parents socialized with. It was an era when experimentation and ‘freeing one’s mind’ through such practices was common and actively encouraged in many circles. Feeling less and less a part of her own family, Dianne left with her parent’s permission in 1967 at the age of 14 to join Charles Manson’s group.

The second section of the book, titled “Tune In”, documents her two years living with the charismatic, messiah-like Manson and his commune of uninhibited flower-power followers. She describes Charles Manson as both conman and charlatan as well as being a very resilient and creative person. She makes the point that at that time California was an epicentre for the counter-culture movement and everywhere one looked there were people investing in the ideals and promised claims of salvation  that were all part of ‘The Age of Aquarius’.


Dianne Lake aged 16 in 1969.

“As a fifteen-year old living with Charlie and the girls, I didn’t think about what was forming around us or how Charlie was moulding us. Perhaps it was because I also had the example of my parent’s efforts to seek a higher truth, but at this point, we weren’t much different from the other communes of the day, all of which were trying to eschew materialism and live off the land in a communal setting.

The biggest difference as far as I could tell was that Charlie was the center of everything for us, but even that wasn’t strange in itself. Charlie‘s form of guruism was in the California air, and up and down the coast there were men – they were almost always men – leading groups like ours and espousing many of the same things he was.

People were looking for guides to the counterculture’s promised land, and there were more than enough people out there who appeared to have the answers. In that regard, Charlie, as criminal as his instincts were, was fairly unexceptional, simply another false prophet taking advantage of the moment’s uncertainty.”   

Pages 209 – 210

Dianne freely admits to feeling confused at the time over her own loyalty to Manson, especially as the group and it’s purpose slowly morphed into what eventually became a perversion of its original ideals of love, acceptance and community.


Cult leader Charles Manson as he appeared on the covers of Life Magazine in December 1969 and Rolling Stone Magazine in June 1970.

The final section of the book titled “Drop Out” chronicles Dianne Lake’s life after the murder convictions of her fellow Family members in 1970-71 (murders which Dianne took no part in) right up to the year 2017.

She emerged from the cult an LSD-soaked, Charlie-programmed traumatized mess and spent the first eight months of her freedom in a Psychiatric Facility (Patton State Mental Hospital in San Bernardino, Los Angeles).

Today she is a retired special education teacher and mother of three adult children. MEMBER OF THE FAMILY is easily one of the most courageous, disturbing and all-round best memoirs I have ever had the good fortune to read.


(1) Inside the geodesic dome that Lake’s father built in the backyard of their Santa Monica house in 1967. Her father is holding a joint. This photo was taken right before their family dropped out. (2) The bread truck that Lake’s family drove around in when they dropped out.

Ps. Since 2019 marks fifty years since the tragic murders in August 1969 masterminded by Charles Manson,  a number of new additions to the books/films/documentaries ‘Manson’ cannon are set to be released.

One of them is a book due out next month called THE MANSON WOMEN AND ME. Based on conversations the author had with some former Family members while they were behind bars, this is yet another book written by the sort of commentator who was not there that I referenced at the beginning of this post. I’ll withhold further judgement on this one until I know more.

A much more eagerly awaited installment is what’s being touted as ‘Quentin Tarantino’s 9th film’ ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. This movie stars Australia’s own Margot Robbie as well as one of my all-time fave actors Al Pacino. Expect I’ll be among the first in the queue when it hits Australian theatres in September.


On Your P (Personalised) Plates


You definitely see some sights when you’re out driving.

On life’s highways the bold and the bizarre come into view on many an occasion.

Varied coloured cocoons each filled with people hermetically sealed within their own worlds, moving at speed to the rhythm of green lightyellow lightred light – for starters.

There I was stuck in traffic, two lines of steel and tire, each capable of over 160 kilometres per hour and each averaging about five in their stop-start fashion. My viewing options were limited so I chose what most others would do in this situation… to gaze zombie-like at the car in front of me. This turned out to be a not entirely wasted experience. In a vision of loveliness sullied only by the grey mist exhaust coming from its tailpipe sat the sleek chrome rear of a mustard yellow Nissan GT-R sports car.

That type of auto-eye-candy under any normal circumstance would have been satisfying enough but this particular sleek unit of hot metal came with a bonus: a personalised number plate that read SIR YANG”. (To supply added context to this story, the location for my stuck-in-traffic experience was the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank which is recognised as having a higher than average Asian population).

With time on my side and not going anywhere fast I tossed over in my mind exactly why that particular combination of words seemed so.. so.. unique (not to mention hilarious, at least to me). The best I could come up with was the idea that mixing the most English of sounding royal titles ‘Sir’ with the quintessentially Asian sounding surname (or is that first name?) of ‘Yang’ results in a most unlikely blending of European and what used to go by the name of ‘Oriental’ flavours one could possibly imagine.


Probably the most out-there personalized plate I’ve seen on a car on the road was one that simply read ANTS (to be honest I can’t recall if it was spelled with an ‘s’ or a ‘z’) Make of that what you will.

Naturally that’s nothing compared to the likes of the wanton weirdness you can find online –


 And they’re just the G-rated ones!

In the minds of some, there isn’t an item that screams ’empty status symbol’ more than the personalised number plate, or ‘vanity plate’, as they are still referred to in some circles. So why do people sometimes mentally roll their eyes when they see another driver’s attempt at being funny or what they may interpret as a gaudy ‘look at me’ gesture?

In part, it’s a legacy of the fact that personalised plates were born in the eighties, a decade when bankers’ greed had poisoned the well of public opinion against conspicuous displays of wealth. Getting a personalised plate was seen as something that was done by those with more money than sense, a rather gauche, loadsamoney thing to do.

But three decades on, the general wealth of the middle class has risen exponentially and personalised number plates, much like tattoos or piercings, are now widely considered simply a fun thing to do ‘because you can’.


An early adopter – Lady Penelope from the 1960’s tv series ‘THE THUNDERBIRDS’.


Ps. Your bonus read this week is the incredible story of the car that carried Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the day he was assassinated in June of 1914 (an event that triggered a series of events which lead to the outbreak of World War 1) and the eerie significance of the number plate of that motor vehicle.

It’s helpful if you keep in mind when reading this article that the peace treaty that ended World War One was signed on the 11th of Novemember 1918.






Into the Snakepit of Friendship


About a month ago a well-written US-based blog I follow going by the name of YEAH, ANOTHER BLOGGER published an uplifting ode to the joys of friendship (HERE)  It was a refreshing and affirming celebration of how friends enrich our lives while doubling our joys and halving our sorrows.

Such unabated cheerfulness was simply too much for me. With ice running through my veins in quick time I proceeded to pour acid-scented cold water over the whole notion by posting this comment on the site –

This friendship-themed post comes with a lot of good vibes Neil.

Unfortunately, along with some of your other readers like Alyson, Mahvish, Paddy and Les my experience of friendships has been more mixed. To this extent I’ve come to somewhat reluctantly believe over the years in two adages –

(1) Friends come and go but enemies last a lifetime and
(2) Keep a watch on your enemies but keep a closer eye on your friends.

Despite the slightly mafia-sounding ring to these old sayings, there’s no disguising a cynical (or is it just born-of-experience adult realism?) viewpoint at the heart of both. To be brutally honest, without even really trying, a great many adults I come into contact with begin to grate on the nerves after anything more than a short time in their company. Sad but true (for me)

And of the others, if a person who I’m compatible with on a friendship level isn’t prepared to put in at least something approaching a similar amount of effort to keep that friendship going, then whamo, unfortunately up in smoke goes another glorious ‘what might have been’.

I’ve heard that in order to thrive the one ingredient all friendships need is FORCED REGULAR CONTACT. Like back in Primary school! Remember those days? Back then friendships for all of us were based on innocent choices centred on the laws of personality attraction. These days work and family occupy the bulk of my time which is not to say I’m not on the lookout for personality types who I think could become friends.

Sorry for what probably comes across as an anti-friendship tone in this comment Neil but I just wanted to put across the idea that, at least in my experience, despite the best of intentions friendships and the desire for friendship don’t always go according to plan. Which is certainly no great truth bomb on originality count I think it’s safe to say.

And just when I was starting to feel guilty that maybe I’d popped the feel-good party balloons that up to that moment seemed fairly inflated, came this comment on the same site from a person named Pazlo  –

I’m tempted to quote Mark Twain and say “The more I know of people, the more I like dogs.”
However, you have painted a lovely picture of brotherly love from the city famous for such.


See, I’m one of those people who believes the word ‘friend’ is often mistakenly used by people who are simply referring to someone they’re on friendly terms with. And there’s a big difference, as we all know, between the two. With possible misunderstanding hanging thick in the air like negatively charged particles before a rainstorm, what else was there to do but haul out the analytical blowtorch and see if I could make any sense of it all.

Let’s start with exhibit A below – The Friendship Schematic


Tier 1 Friends – Those who feel somewhat like brother’s and sisters. This is hallowed territory indeed.

Tier 2 Friends – You might be invited to their wedding, but you certainly won’t be delivering any Best Man or Best Woman speeches.

Tier 3 Not Really Friends – Your relationship tends to exist mostly as part of a bigger group or through the occasional Facebook like.

Tier 4 Acquaintances – When you hear that something bad happens to one of these people, you pretend to be sad but you don’t actually care.

Tier 5 Strangers – We get to ‘meet’ about 80 000 people in our lifetime (that’s everyone from the teenager who served you a flat white in the coffee shop this morning to the uncle you only ever saw a few times back in your childhood) and the overwhelming majority of those will remain as barely one step up from complete strangers to us.



Before leaving this topic, I’d like to aim the cross-hairs at a couple of very recognisable friendship types –


You can be having a bad day. You can be having a good day. You may be having marriage problems. You may have just loaded a bloody body into the boot for all they care. None of it matters because  none of it will be discussed by the non-question asking friend who never, ever asks you anything about your life. This friend can be explained in one of three ways:

1) They are extremely self-absorbed and only want to talk about themselves.

2) They avoid getting close to people and don’t want to talk in-depth about either you or themselves or anything personal, just third-party topics.

3) They think YOU’RE incurably self-absorbed and know if they ask you about your life you’ll talk their ear off about it.



Whether we like to admit it or not there’s a power-balance at play in all friendships.

Friendships can be lopsided in a variety of ways. Someone can want to spend more time with a friend or vice-versa. One member can consistently do 90% of the listening and only 10% of the talking.

A near 50/50 friendship is ideal, but anything out to 65/35 is fine and can often be attributed to two different styles of personality. It’s when the number gap gets even wider that something less healthy is going on—something that doesn’t reflect very well on either party.



Infamous by name, white-anting by nature. The frenemy is a person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. They are common in workplaces the world over. The frenemy can’t disguise their pleasure when things don’t pan out for us.

The word itself has appeared in print as early as 1953 in an article titled “Howz about calling the Russians our Frienemies?” by the American gossip columnist Walter Winchel  in the Nevada State Journal. 

The trick to dealing with a frenemy is getting them as low down your friendship mountain – at least Tier 3 but more ideally Tier 4 or 5) – as is humanly possible.



A Historical Friend is someone you became friends with in the first place because you met when you were little and stayed friends through the years, even though you’re a very weird match. A true Historical Friend is someone you absolutely would not be friends with if you met them today.



In many groups of friends, there’s one pair of individuals who can’t ever be alone together.  It’s not that they dislike each other—they might get along great—it’s just that they have no individual friendship with each other whatsoever. Awkward? Yeah, awkward.


There’s no denying life is a far richer experience in the company of good friends. It’s just that, like anything, friends exist on a continuum, meaning that there’s a range. There can also be a dark underbelly and I’m just sorry I had to be the one to raise it.

Then again what would you expect from a person who used to loath with a passion the television series FRIENDS (1994 -2004) and would rather have root canal surgery than have to endure the indignity of watching a single episode in its entirety based around the romantic and career lives of a collection of twenty and thirty somethings?

Sitting through the antics of an ensemble cast of perfectly groomed and overprivileged, what used to go by the name of ‘yuppies’ back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, just was not on my wavelength either back then or now.

On the other hand …hitching my viewing wagon to following the ups and downs of working class married life centred around the odd-couple union of an overweight courier driver and his underpaid, feisty Manhatten secretary wife who both live in a small apartment with the wife’s hilariously volatile widowed father (who always manages to get in the way) was much, much more my thing. More my type of virtual ‘friends’.



Ps. I’ve always been a big believer in the idea that in a lot of ways its easier to like a person from a distance than it is up close and warts and all via a lot of daily/weekly contact. This is the theme explored in Australian author Lisa Ireland’s (Check her website HERE)  novel THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP released last year.

Libby and Kit have been best friends since Primary school. They’ve maintained their friendship over many decades via emails, phonecalls and an annual face to face catchup. So when Libby announces she is moving to Kit‘s city of Melbourne, the two besties are initially overjoyed. But both are about to discover the person they thought they’d known and stayed in contact with all these years has changed  in ways not revealed by their polite emails and up-beat phone chit chats.



Just how Unique is Unique?


My fingerprints are all over the keyboard that typed these words.

Your fingerprints are on the mouse that’s scrolling them.

Both sets are different.


Of course it’s right, if you accept the idea we’ve all been told, many times over, that no one who’s currently living, has ever lived or will be born in the future will ever have the exact same fingerprints as us?

But what if you don’t accept that notion?

What if that idea is really a bunch of pink-cinnamon-lip-gloss-flavoured-old-school- codswallop perpetuated by the same people who told us an apple a day keeps the           doctor away, you get warts from touching toads and frogs and sharks don’t get cancer.

As is pointed out in this clip from the ‘ol tv series NUMBERS (2005 -2010) unless you were to take the fingerprints of every person who is currently alive today (7.7 billion) plus the fingerprints of every person who has EVER lived but is NOT alive today (estimated to be a little in excess of 100 billion people) you can’t say you categorically ‘KNOW’ that no two people have the same identical fingerprints.

That’s why when experts state they have a DNA match they don’t say it’s a certainty but rather reword things to state more cautiously that, for example, there’s a one in three million chance that the DNA samples are NOT from the same person.

Naturally arguments along these lines that contend a person is prevented from stating something as impossible unless they have checked every single existing specimen that is living or has ever lived to see if it might in fact be possible are plainly ridiculous. Science more often than not arrives at not facts but what, to be fair, must be labelled assumptions (though these ‘assumptions’  are about as air-tight and scrupulously investigated as are any likely to ever be).

We are told the distance between the Earth and the Sun is 149.6 million km’s. But since no person has ever boarded a space ship, set the odometer to zero and then travelled the distance to measure it, how do we KNOW it’s 149.6 kilometres? For that matter how does the average person KNOW the Earth is not flat?

The answer is we don’t.

Instead we rely on armies of scientists from every country on Earth whose life work is to use super-sophisticated instruments based on empirical measurements  to make  calculated estimates based on scale. (FYI, and so I may appear mildly intelligent,  in the case of interplanetary distances, astro-scientists transmit a radar signal at another planet (or moon or asteroid) and measure how long it takes for the radar echo to return)


The same mischief-making argument can be applied to poke holes in the adage that says no two snowflakes are alike. How do scientists actually KNOW that to be true unless they’ve personally examined every single snowflake that’s ever fallen to Earth? (Here I go again attempting to pass myself off as some super intelligent being  but apparently there’s estimated to be one septillion – that’s a trillion trillion – snowflakes that fall from the skies every year).

According to Jon Nelson, a physicist and formerly assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, Tucson, there are this many possible snowflake shapes – 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000.

That’s a one followed by 768 zeros making the chances of finding two identical snowflakes not good.


There was actually a scientist who claimed back in 1988 to have found two identical snowflakes. Nancy Knight, a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado was studying wispy high altitude cirrus clouds. Her research plane was collecting snowflakes on a chilled glass slide that was coated with a sticky oil.

She found two hollow hexagonal prism shaped snowflakes in a Wisconsin snowstorm that she claimed were identical. The news made headlines around the world at the time. Closer examination under a microscope revealed in fact the snowflakes were not identical but rather amazingly similar.

So for the moment at least in the absence of any evidence to the contrary I’ll be sticking to the beliefs that hold fingerprints are indeed unique and that no two snowflakes are identical.

Old school I know.


Ps. On a contrasting but not entirely unrelated note,  you may have heard there’s a new KEANU REEVES movie doing the rounds. It’s called REPLICAS and features a pretty ‘out there’ plot line.

Reeves’ character is a researcher at a biotech firm who suffers a tragedy when his wife and three children are killed in a car accident. After carefully laying out the dead bodies on the side of the road, he calls not the police but rather a co-worker at the biotech firm. Together the two of them go about  preserving his family’s neural maps, cloning their bodies, and re-imprinting their memories into the clones.

But this being a sci-fi film centred around freaky experiments you know things are bound to go wrong. And they do.

And just so you know, these are my favourite six Keanu films