sephira: (Default)
Awww yeah guys

I have to think of a column name. Anyone got any suggestions??
sephira: (Default)
5 Awesome Things With Inexplicably Bad Reputations

Read it, it has GUNS. And SPACE. And SNAKE OIL.

Actually the very nice associate editor of Collector's Weekly, Lisa, liked something on this LJ and emailed me with an interesting article about the history of snake oil, and said I should use it in an article. I agreed that it was interested and said I would. That was like... over two years ago now? That's how long it took for the little notebook page with "SNAKE OIL??" on it to fill up with enough entries to make an article out of.

More work goes into this stuff than most people think, yo.
sephira: (Default)

Yes I know that they are not all fonts. Fun fact: titles are often changed by the site editors, and then the writers get about 800 messages saying "ONE OR MORE OF YOUR LIST ENTRIES WAS NOT A REAL FONT/ACTOR/MOVIE/MONKEY OMG DO YOUR RESEARCH" come on people really it's a title the point is to be short and interesting and get you to click on it no one is trying to hurt you

I have a bad wrist right now and can't type please read it I love you
sephira: (Bones: Booth and Brennan)

His name is Mark Marsay, of London, England. He goes by the name “Mark Mitchell” and “Mark M.” online. Other internet handles include “Yowhound” (on Cracked and Twitter) and "Cleo's Patra." He used to run an antique-restoration business by the name of “MC Antiques”, which is now apparently defunct, and he seems to still work in the field of antique and tool restoration.

I was a bit torn over posting this. On the one hand, the story of Mr. Marsay's escapades have not, as far as I know, been detailed anywhere online that isn't private or locked, and this means that Mark will be able keep on doing this elsewhere on the Internet without even a theoretical chance of someone finding out about his reputation. On the other hand, by describing this guy as a big faker I do not want to damage Cracked’s reputation. In light of this, I want to emphasize that all of Mark Marsay’s fakery was done entirely with regards to his personal life, and not anything he wrote in his many Cracked articles, which like all articles there were fact-checked multiple times by editors. In fact, it was only when Mark got too confident and tried to take it into the article arena that the spiel unraveled.

According to the stories Mark told to anyone who knew him, this guy had not only had a liver transplant in 2010, but had also had a son who died in Gulf War 2 (or was it 1?) and a daughter who died of AIDS after an infected blood transfusion in the 80s. He overcame all this misfortune, though, and indeed leveraged people’s sympathy into contributing to a collection of fiction stories he edited and sold on Amazon. Other Cracked writers, myself included, contributed non-fiction pieces, and a Cracked editor wrote an introduction. Still others donated their time in order to copyedit and create the Kindle version. The money from the book, which sold well, was meant to go towards Kiva loans.

The money never actually reached charity, but Mark had many excuses about Amazon messing up the checks and a thousand other things. After that, I didn’t have much contact with the guy and didn’t respond to the emails asking me for more free work, not because I suspected anything so much as because I’m lazy. Meanwhile, a few other writers had apparently figured out what was going on, but chose not to tell anyone. I don’t hang out with them either so I don’t know why.

A few months back, Mark submitted a "personal experience" article to Cracked. These are different from normal articles, in that they’re less about general facts and more about your own life (for example, like this one I did). Mark Marsay’s claim at the article was that he made a living as a weaponsmith, and at first glance the article actually seemed legit (I'm guessing this is because he wasn’t completely lying – he is involved in antique restoration, quite possibly he reads up on weaponsmaking as a hobby; and also just likes to pretend he’s cool enough to make a living at it). Still, a few people immediately called him on minor errors in the text, which he brushed off with explanations and changes, and finally the eds requested more proof, particularly pictures of the weapons Mark was talking about making. Note, he'd told everyone that every weapon he makes was photographed by police (he lives in the UK, remember, and they don’t trust their subjects to defend themselves there), so all Mark theoretically had to do was give everyone the name of the police database where they were stored. Instead, he claimed that:

1. He had left his camera at home

2. His wife was mentally ill and paranoid, and would not allow his photos to go up (his wife is real, by the way. I wonder what she thinks about this)

3. He couldn’t send the pictures because he had Undisclosed Health Problem X and was in hospital for a while

4. He had suddenly entered a monastery (no, really.)

5. He would send the photos later

6. Don’t we trust him????? Some of the Cracked staff DON'T EVEN USE THEIR REAL NAMES!


Finally, he stormed off completely. His last demand was that passionate speech requested that Cracked send him an invoice so that he could repay the money he was given in advance for the article. He declared that he would not take money for work he hadn’t done. You see, Mark is honest.

When I heard about this, I spent about 15 seconds looking up the WHOIS information on a domain Mark owns, and found his real name and street address. With this information, I then found one of his old Internet incarnations posting on a forum called "Old Tools." One of his more recent posts was this delicious bio:

Back in April 2005, as some of you may recall, we bought a small farm in the south of Italy. I spent most of 2005 and all of 2006 getting it habitable… Got the garden going, raising chickens, pheasant, quail and olives, plus a couple of fattening hogs per year. Once the farm was ticking over nicely, with a good friend basically running the farm side of things, I came back to London to carry on work here, the plan being one month on and one month off in the summer, winters in Italy. Unfortunately........

I am (now was) a reservist (Technically an OTC reserve, but never mind - if they can find you they will use you). Yep, you guessed it, 6 weeks before I would be safe for all time, I got called up. A few weeks retraining, a few months in wonderful, sunny, cheerful Helmand province, and several months hospital time (and a rather interesting set of abdominal scars that look like a 3D map of the Alps) later, I make it back to the Porch.

That’s right, stealing money intended for Kiva loans recipients just wasn't classy enough for El Marsay; he's also a fake vet. Who got blown up, right before retirement. When all he wanted to do was raise quails. Because you know, that's totally how people talk about their war injuries.

I won’t lie: I’m a bad person, and it takes a lot to rouse my pissed-off-ness. I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to write this if Mark had just done the Kiva loans thing and run. But fake veterans are just kind of a trigger point with me. (You know what else is? Public bathrooms that don’t provide a hook or something to hang your purse. I mean you can sometimes awkwardly balance it in your lap but what if you have multiple bags? Is there anything filthier than the floor in a public bathroom? How many people rest their purses on the floor without thinking about it and then lay them on the kitchen counter later? Doesn’t anyone think about this but me? Anyway I am not accusing Mark Marsay of maliciously removing bathroom hooks, but I wouldn’t put it past him, if you know what I’m saying.)

Note: I’m putting up this information for the sake of information/warning people. Please do not take anything I have written here as an invitation to stalk the guy. He does have a family, and any information about them should stay out of this since I'm sure their lives are already hard enough. Please also note that there is a popular science fiction writer from Yorkshire by the name of Mark Marsay, and also a WWI historian who I think is from Scarborough. And probably many others. They are real, and are probably very nice people. However, Mark Marsay, antique restorer of London, is probably lying if his lips are moving. Do not trust him. He is a fugly slut.

sephira: (Default)
 Yeah I'm technically not meant to be posting but HEY I WROTE THIS SO YOU SHOULD READ IT:

sephira: (Edward)
Can anyone think of:

1. Recent American movies or TV shows that are about or are set in England or feature English characters - English-made movies might work, but I'm really looking for stuff that portrays an American idea of England.

What I have so far: Harry Potter, a bunch of Joss Whedon Stuff, V for Vendetta

2. Recent (last 10 years; the more recent the better) movies or TV shows in which a young character looks at pornographic magazines or video tapes (not online porn)

What I have so far: not much. You can probably surmise why I don't want to use Google to get ideas for this one.


Aug. 15th, 2011 07:40 am


Also, I have a guest column on Cracked today: 6 Reasons Your Plans to Move Abroad Might Not Work Out. It is wonderfully depressing! Please go read!
sephira: (BSG: Dance Party)

Thanks to [ profile] jsl32 for kind of inadvertently giving me the idea for #1 a while back, even if hearing about it did crush my dreams.
sephira: (BSG: Dance Party)
I have this feeling that any person who appears in today's episode of Agents of Cracked must be completely and utterly awesome. I'm just sayin'.


Jun. 27th, 2011 10:52 am
sephira: (Default)

 Also I co-wrote this article:

It is probably easy to guess which bits are mine!
sephira: (Bones: Booth and Brennan)
You might have seen this article get posted around LJ with much scorn a while back: 'The Online World of Female Desire.' What confused me about the scorn is that the main premise is exactly the same as something I'd mentioned offhandedly in this old Fanfiction article, and I didn't get a single complaint about that, or even a hint from anyone that there was anything negative about the idea. 
I would put this down to the obvious fact that one is the WSJ, and one is a random Cracked piece that didn't even get a front page feature, except that the Cracked piece only got the hits it did because of being linked around on LJ and other fanfic-heavy places. Also, several of the LJ people who complained about the WSJ piece were the same people who'd messaged me complimenting the article. Did they just skip that bit?

So I got curious, and read the link. The WSJ article says:

"Whereas two-minute video clips are the most popular form of contemporary erotica for men, the most popular form for women remains the romance novel, an artifact that takes many hours to digest... All romance novels, whether written by the likes of Jane Austen, Nora Roberts or Stephenie Meyer, employ a narrative formula that follows the gradual elucidation of the hero's inner character, leading to an emotional epiphany between hero and heroine. On this journey, the heroine—and the reader—investigates the character of the hero. The goal of a romance novel's heroine is never sex for its own sake, much less impersonal sex with strangers. In addition to providing a new platform for traditional romance tales, the Web has fueled an explosion of stories written by a highly interactive community of female amateurs: a genre called "fan fiction.""
Okay, not that different to this:

"The main writers and readers of all kinds of fanfiction are women, but the ladies particularly dominate this genre. This might be due to the need of many women to experience emotional as well as visual stimuli to enjoy sex fully. Fanfic comes with emotional bonds to the characters already built-in: these have been formed during the fan's prior experience of the book/show/music/whatever.
This saves the female reader all the time she would have wasted reading a romance novel, slowly building up a 200-page bond with the characters in order to finally get to the sex. Instead, having already invested the time to read Harry Potter, the reader can immediately dive into an unlimited supply of hot Lupin/Snape action.
Which isn't to say men don't write fanfiction, It just tends to all be all about them boning a female character with the addition of "Oh yeah and we were on a spaceship or something.""
Awesome, we're in agreement. But wait. The authors, in their infinite wisdom, also give us this:
"The female cortex contains a highly developed system for finding and scrutinizing a prospective partner—a system that might be dubbed the Miss Marple Detective Agency. Agatha Christie's fictional sleuth is often dismissed as scatterbrained, but she is actually a shrewd judge of character and harbors deep knowledge of the dark side of human nature. She uses her surprising analytical acumen to solve mysteries that have stumped the police. Using similar investigative skills, the female brain evaluates all available evidence regarding a potential mate's social, emotional and physical qualities to make an all-important decision: Is he Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong? Only if Miss Marple gives her stamp of approval do physical arousal and psychological arousal harmoniously unite in the female brain."
Guys! It's the Evo Psych Good Will Theory Destructobomb Paragraph!
So I think I've come up with a plan to make sure your theory alienates as many people as possible:
1. Linguistically reduce not just an individual, but an entire group of people to a single 'brain'. Don't worry about stuff like 'the endocrine system' either. Just say 'cortex' and people will think you're smart. 
2. Even though you're talking about a part of the brain which isn't exactly known as a dark unknown ocean of irrational desire, act like everything you're talking about is completely inevitable, unconscious and unaffected by free will. It doesn't matter whether this is true or not! What matters is that people love being told they're slavering, robotic meat-sacks.
3. Throw in something about 'social and emotional qualities' in the hope that your audience hasn't actually read any fanfiction, so they'll won't be confused about what 'qualities' make Snape desirable when he's statutorily raping someone.
4. Be sure to put in a reference to 'Mr Right' somehow, because it's the end game of all female desire for anything and explains why married women don't read fanfiction or have any hobbies.

5. ???
6. Profit!
I have a theory about why the authors are being so supposedly counterproductive here: back when humans still lived on the savanna, early ancestors of homo sapiens began to alienate the vast majority of their social group by spouting off unfalsifiable bullshit about cortices. This method ensured that only the most gullible group members stuck around to listen to their theories. The low intelligence and docility of the group members that stayed around meant that it was easy for the alienaters to mate with them and pass on their genes successfully. As a result, the human cortex now possesses what I call an alienation desire structure, and I recently proved this by sticking people in an MRI and telling them that they only liked their favorite music because the steady beat reminded them of fucking and delicious berries and some shit.
sephira: (BSG: Dance Party)

It seems like editorial rephrased the title somewhat. A fellow Australian could tell you why I would not have used that turn of phrase.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who helped me come up with examples for #4 in this!

June 2016



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