Thought Catalog


The 14 Most Badass Female Con Artists Of All Time

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:11 PM PST

jesych / Twenty20.com
jesych / Twenty20.com

1. THE LADIES WHO CATFISHED ISIS

Last summer brought news that a trio of plucky, entrepreneurial Chechen girls swindled $3,300 out of ISIS by using social media to pretend they needed money to travel to the Middle East and join the jihad. They rooked ISIS out of $3,300 before they were caught by Chechen authorities.

2. DWARF IN A TRUNK

In the mid-1700s, Barbara Erni from the tiny European fiefdom of Liechtenstein ran an amazing scam where she’d travel from one boarding house to another carrying a heavy trunk. She’d inform the innkeepers that the trunk contained a huge treasure and needed to be locked away wherever the in kept its own valuables. But during the night, a dwarf accomplice of hers would emerge from the trunk and pack it with every valuable item in sight, and they’d flee the inn before sunrise. This worked for years until she was finally caught and beheaded in front of a crowd of 1,000 gawkers.

3. QUEEN OF FAKE COSMETICS

In the 1800s, Sarah Rachel Russell—AKA “Madame Rachel”—made herself a fortune by exploiting the vanity of rich British women by selling them absolutely useless potions that she’d dub Magnetic Rock Dew Water, Armenian Beauty Wash, Circassian Golden Hair Wash, Royal Arabian Face Cream, and Honey of Mount Hymettus Soak. Some of her concoctions included dangerous and deadly substances such as lead, arsenic, and prussic acid. For years, she raked in the modern equivalent of $1 million yearly merely by selling women fake beauty treatments.

4. THE HIPSTER GRIFTER

Kari Ferrell gained brief fame in 2009 when the press christened her the “Hipster Grifter” for her tendency to befriend young skinny bearded males in Williamsburg and take them for every penny they had. She was accused of faking cancer, being a prostitute, and passing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bad checks. Her scheme finally caught up with her, though, and she spent jail time in Utah for allegedly passing over $60,000 in bad checks.

5. MOTHER AND SON MURDER DUO

One of the rarest criminal combos is that of a mother and son who kill people together, but that’s exactly what Sante Kimes and her son Kenny did. Sante was a lifelong con artist who grew up shoplifting and committing credit card fraud before she went “pro” and began fleecing people of millions and murdering anyone whose belongings she desired. Along with her son, she murdered Manhattan socialite Irene Silverman, wrapped her in trash bags, stuffed her in a duffel bag, and dropped the corpse in a New Jersey dumpster. She and her son were found guilty of murder and a whopping 117 other criminal charges.

6. THE WELFARE QUEEN

While campaigning in 1976, future president Ronald Reagan spoke of a Chicago “welfare queen”:

She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans' benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.

Not only was all of this true, the “Welfare Queen” in question, Linda Taylor, was also running multiple other scams. She operated in 14 states using at least 127 aliases. When finally caught for fraud, she shocked the media by appearing nonchalant and dressed in the highest fashion.

7. THE KING’S ILLEGITIMATE DAUGHTER

Helga de la Brache. (Wikimedia Commons)
Helga de la Brache. (Wikimedia Commons)

Born a poor orphan in Stockholm, Helga de la Brache lied her way to fame and fortune by claiming to be the illegitimate daughter of Sweden’s exiled King Gustav IV. The Swedish government believed her, and she lived on a lavish monthly pension for years until finally being caught.

8. BIG BERTHA, ‘THE CONFIDENCE QUEEN’

Bertha Heyman. (Wikimedia Commons)
Bertha Heyman. (Wikimedia Commons)

A psychological master from the 1800s who could allegedly bend anyone to her will, Bertha Hayman was described by a New York detective as “one of the smartest confidence women in America.” Even after being caught and arrested, she swindled people out of hundreds even from jail. She acted as sort of a Robin Hood figure and apparently gave all of her illicitly acquired treasures to the poor. According to her, she only did it for the joy of the hustle:

The moment I discover a man’s a fool I let him drop, but I delight in getting into the confidence and pockets of men who think they can’t be ‘skinned.’ It ministers to my intellectual pride.

9. ANDREW CARNEGIE’S ILLEGITIMATE DAUGHTER

Cassie Chadwick. (Wikimedia Commons)
Cassie Chadwick. (Wikimedia Commons)

Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was one of the wealthiest of the late 19th century’s robber barons. Capitalizing on this capitalist, a woman named Cassie Chadwick claimed to be his illegitimate daughter and was able to work (and even bankrupt) several banks out of an estimated $10-20 million, which is nearly a billion in today’s dollars. Andrew Carnegie was finally contacted about the swindling seductress and claimed that not only wasn’t she his daughter, he’d never even met her. She died in jail.

10. THE PHONY SPIRITUALISTS

The Fox Sisters. (Wikimedia Commons)
The Fox Sisters. (Wikimedia Commons)

During the mid to late 1800s, the Fox sisters—Leah, Margaret, and Kate—helped found the Spiritualism movement by holding public séances where audience questions were answered by a series of mysterious “rapping” sounds. After forty years of running this scam, one of the Fox sisters finally sold out their secret—it was actually achieved by cracking the bones in their knuckles and toes.

11. THE PHONY C.E.O.

In the 1980s, Brooklyn-born Dina Wein Reis made millions by defrauding Fortune 500 companies of their merchandise by posing as the conduit of a “National Distribution Program.” This “program” consisted of Reis begging corporations for free merchandise in order to set up a business relationship, then selling it for a pure profit behind their backs. The same worked for a decade until she was finally nabbed.

12. QUEEN OF DATING SCAMMERS

An alleged “expert at emotional manipulation,” a British woman named Patricia Wutaan earned untold thousands in unearned money by providing ready-made “scripts” for women to use on gullible men they’d met through dating sites. One of these fake letters read like this:

I am a widow. Lost my husband to 9/11 terror attacks in New York. He made it out of the collapsed building but he later died because of heavy dust and smoke and he was asthmatic

Wutaan counseled her would-be female scammers:

Let him do most of the talking, be sad and worried about taking care of bills for rest of the month. When he asks what he can do to help ask him for $2000 – $3000.

She also counseled the women to “stay calm and moody until you get his final word.”

13. AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST CONWOMAN

Jody Harris was able to take her innocent looks and bubbly personality and used it to bleed trusting women of their life’s savings while she conned one policeman after the next into falling in love with her. She would often appear in public in lavish automobiles while “dripping in jewelry.” When she was finally caught, police found more than 100 pieces of fake ID, countless wigs, a diamond watch, and a pearl necklace. Her victim count totaled over 30, and she defrauded them of an estimated $175,000.

14. PRINCESS CARABOO

Engraving of Mary Baker, AKA "Princess Caraboo." (Wikimedia Commons)
Engraving of Mary Baker, AKA “Princess Caraboo.” (Wikimedia Commons)

In the early 1800s, a poor British homeless woman worked a scam where she suddenly showed up wearing exotic clothing and spouting gibberish. A male accomplice pretended he could decipher her babbling and told onlookers that she was actually “Princess Caraboo” from a small island in the Indian Ocean. Pirates had captured her, but she bravely dove into the ocean and swam ashore. For months she exploited the kindness and gullibility of the British by posing as Princess Caraboo, becoming a media star. But once her ruse was discovered, she returned to poverty and died selling leeches. TC mark

What You Can Actually Learn From Doing The ‘Wrong’ Thing

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:08 PM PST

what-you-can-learn

You've been there. That moment of crushing realization when the weight of your own mistake seeps into your consciousness, wreaking havoc on your sense of wellbeing. The sudden, unwelcome awareness that things have gone wrong, and that you're responsible in some way. The pain of defeat coupled with the sting of regret and embarrassment, topped off with the knowledge that you've probably disappointed someone.

As humans, we're united in our imperfection—our tendency to make mistakes, even as we grow older and wiser. There's no hiding from the reality that each and every single one of us is vulnerable to making bad decisions. It's how you choose to handle the outcome of any poor choice that shapes you into the person you become and informs the kind of life you lead. No one is perfect. But there's a lot to be learned from veering off course in life.

So what does it take to reap a valuable lesson from doing the wrong thing?

According to Dr. Margaret D. Paul, co-creator of the Inner Bonding self-healing process, the key to self-improvement is "a deep desire to learn from our bad choices."

Essentially, if you confront your errors head on rather than wallowing in self-defeat, pretending as if they never happened, you'll be better positioned to move forward, armed with yet more insight about how to navigate the world.

"When we recognize our mistakes and allow the pain to move through us, we then open ourselves up to whatever we need to learn from them," says Dr. Paul.

This rings true to Martha Capon, 25, who is now grateful to her former self for making so many horrible financial choices. Why? Because thanks to a few massive errors, she eventually transformed from a "spendthrift with her head in the clouds" into a financially responsible young adult.

After moving across the country on a whim without considering the exorbitant cost of relocating, let alone the difficulty of landing a new job, Martha racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt and found herself homeless for months on end, reliant upon the charity of friends. The final straw came the day her car was towed because she failed to read a parking sign, and, unable to pay the $300 fine, she broke down. A few days later, Martha realized that it was time to clean up her act. As shameful as it seemed at the time, she moved back home and went on a self-imposed "spending vacation" that changed her life. Today, Martha has a steady job and a savings account.

Pivoting from any wrong seems to require a healthy dose of self-awareness, even if it arrives a tad late, and humility. You also have to be willing to give yourself a bit of a break.

"People who judge themselves harshly for mistakes have a very hard time with 'bad' choices, while people who are kind to themselves can eventually take things in stride and learn from those choices," says Dr. Paul.

Ken Chow, 28, understands this principle all too well. For two years straight, Ken dated a girl who was in a serious relationship with another man. Instead of paying heed to all the red flags, he let himself fall harder and harder for this woman who continued to assure him that she would leave her boyfriend "one day." Left to celebrate his birthday alone after being stood up "for the millionth time," Ken finally saw himself for what he was: A fool in love.

Though humiliated, Ken came to see that he had to cut himself some slack if he wanted to extract himself from such a painful situation. After all, his feelings had been genuine. He'd just fallen for the wrong girl, and made the wrong choice in dating someone who was already taken.

Ryan Holiday, best-selling author of The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumphs, advises people to focus on changing what they can, and to forget the rest. Differentiating between "what we can change and what we can't" in our lives is absolutely critical, he argues.

In this vein, Ken promptly cut off all communication with his quasi-girlfriend and pledged never to date someone who was already spoken for again.

Whether you've gambled your way into bankruptcy or splurged on an ill-advised purchase, there's value in doing the wrong thing—as long as you accept blame and commit to learning from your mistake. The lesson hidden within a bad decision might escape you at first, but it's there, lurking beneath the pain and sorrow that tends to accompany bad decision-making. The truth is, without all of the missteps you've taken; you wouldn't be the person you are today. TC mark

For More on Moral Quandaries, Stream the New Amazon Original Series Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime Video.

Totally Serious: My Father Was A Con Artist Who Scammed People For A Living

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:03 PM PST

money-card-business-credit-card-50987

They say that suspicion haunts a thief's mind. I would expand that to include the thief's children.

Seems every time I look at the papers, one more gullible mark has been duped by a con-man. Yesterday, as I drove across town, I flipped on the radio and listened to a story about a Nigerian scam. The broadcast began, "If you’ve never received an email from a Nigerian prince asking for a small loan—then you probably don’t have a computer." For the uninitiated, the host explained that this scam begins with an email request for a loan or your bank information to help out a deposed Nigerian dignitary. There are promises of a big payback if you'll only lend a hand. I wondered, as I often do, if my father might be listening somewhere, wishing he'd been born in the digital age.

When I was a kid, it astonished me that over and over again, Dad could instill the sort of confidence that would make a person hand over hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Though he was a con-artist in every sense, his specialty was card sharping. He was a mechanic, meaning that he could deal what he wanted to whom he wanted. He could slip a deck of cards up one sleeve and a "cooler" (fixed deck) down the other. So smooth you wouldn't spot the trick if he were to announce it blow by blow. He and his partner—let's call him Jack—would infiltrate conferences and college reunions, impersonating various professionals. They worked the room separately, making gregarious chitchat until they could lure enough suckers into a poker game. My father would play the slightly inept, gullible guy. Jack would be what they call a shoot-up man, meaning a public relations guy, the one who looks sharp and has the gift of the gab, the guy who would eventually provide distraction during the game and give Dad some shade when he was ready to make his moves.

As far as the other players knew, my father and Jack were strangers to one another. From all appearances Dad was a man with more money than smarts and Jack drew attention to that idea, teasing out the larceny-sense of the other players. If all went well, through subtle signals, false shuffles and double-dukes, my father and his partner would clean them out.

The Nigerian scam is just a variation on the good old door-to-door hustle. Like most con-artists, my Dad and Jack preferred to target the elderly. In one scam, dressed in dark tailor-made suits, they would knock on a woman's door, and hand her business cards that identified them as bank officers investigating an embezzler. The problem was internal, and they believed it was a teller. Sitting in the woman's living room, my father would gaze into her eyes with concern and gently explain what an extraordinary public service she would be doing if she agreed to withdraw her savings for the sake of this on-going investigation. Once they had her money, Dad and Jack explained, they would enter the bank undercover, target the teller under suspicion, re-deposit the funds and if any of the cash went missing, the culprit would be caught. Twenty-five thousand dollars, a small fortune in the 1970s, was promised as a reward.

From the time I was small, I was taught to assume that every stranger who shows up at your door is working an angle. It seems obvious that no bank would turn to a customer for help in this sort of matter, and yet, enough people fell for his scams that my father was able to amass considerable property and has never held a straight job in his life. Who would believe that a Nigerian prince would like nothing more than to park his thirty-five million dollars in your bank account? Yet the average loss for those who fall for that one is $200,000, siphoned bit by bit in the form of "lawyer's fees," "taxes," and "tariffs."

Victimhood has little to do with intelligence. Those who become marks tend to make emotional decisions based on their own greed and fear. My father always insisted that you couldn't cheat an honest man. He believed cash was the ultimate bait, and he strove to draw out the average person's greed, as well as their desire to be needed. Senior citizens were not only more trusting on average, but they were often lonely and eager for company, and it pleased them to feel useful again. My father's ability to tap into a person's avarice and ego at once was what made him a success.

Dad and I haven't spoken in years and I don't know what he'll think when he discovers I've written One Good Hustle, a novel that offers a peak into the world of con-artists. From what I hear, he's getting on and not able to work the hustles he used to. Recently, talking with my friend Karen, I mused, "If he can't go on the road and he can't work a computer, what could he be doing?"

"Maybe he's building a casino for the blind," she quipped.

I wouldn't doubt it. Regardless, he's certainly not the last of his kind. And it seems there is no end to those willing to play patsy. I'd love to offer tips—Don't hand over your banking information, don't accept business cards as proof of identity—but these suggestions would strike everyone as obvious. Edgar Allan Poe warned, "Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear." I prefer the old poker proverb: "If you look around the table and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you." TC mark

This post originally appeared at HAZLITT.

image – dupo-x-y

The Ten Commandments Of Con Men

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:03 PM PST

Thought.is
Thought.is

I told her I would never write about her again.

The first time I wrote about her was in 2009. I met her in a bookstore and she was drawing and I was attracted to her. I asked her what she was drawing.

She told me her whole story. And then a week later I wrote about it. That same day I got my first death threat. "I could kill you for writing about her."

I apologized to her. We met. I asked her out. She said no. "You're too old for me." Which I was.

I wrote about her again a few years later. Not because of her but because of who her boss was.

He was/is a famous artist. He paints beautiful images of semi-naked women in nature.

Only… she paints them. He takes photographs of the women, blows them up poster-size, and then she would paint over the posters with oils and the painter would sign his name.

Each painting went for tens of thousands of dollars. He would sell out.

"When collectors came to visit, we would clear out, he'd put on paint-smattered clothes and pretend to be at work."

The idea: if someone paid $50,000 for a work of art there was basically zero chance they would scrape off the paint and reveal the poster underneath. So the forgery and fraud was never discovered.

Until I first wrote about her. And then someone who was already suspicious did scrape and discover the fraud.

The artist was furious and couldn't figure out who in his stable of forgers was the one who told me everything.

Then when I wrote about her again, she wrote me and said, "you have to stop writing this story."

OK, I wrote back. I promise.

Who is the con man?

The artist? The girl who forged his work? The collector who discovered the fraud but didn't reveal it to the public for fear of how the value of his art would change?

Me, who keeps writing about it?


I went to my neighbor's boss's office. This was around 2005. I wanted him to put money into my fund.

On the way to the office, another friend of mine called me. Later this friend would deny calling me. He said, "Try to get me into his fund. We really want to allocate money to him."

Anyway: the boss of my neighbor gave me the tour of his offices. Then I described what I did and asked him to put money into my fund.

He said, "I have no idea what you are really doing with the money. You could be doing anything."

I was trying to figure out a way to argue this. But there was no arguing.

The boss said, "The last thing we need here at Bernard Madoff Securities is to see our name on the front page of the Wall Street Journal."


Maria Konnikova is brilliant. She is the author of "The Confidence Game" which explores every aspect of the science behind, and history of, being a con man.

The podcast I did with her is one of my favorites. Because so many of the techniques of a con man I see in the BS of motivational speakers and business-inspiration books and coaches and Wall Street people.

What's the difference?

She told me, "You have to always determine intent. Sometimes the intent can be good."

She said to me, look at the top con man in history, Victor Lustig. He's famous for actually selling the Eiffel Tower. Twice.

She told me a story of how Victor Lustig conned Al Capone. I recommend looking up that story.

After the podcast she told me, "Since we brought up Victor Lustig I have to show you his 'ten commandments of con men'." So we looked it up.

Here they are:

  • Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con man his coups).
  • Never look bored.
  • Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
  • Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
  • Hint at sex talk, but don't follow it up unless the other person shows a strong interest.
  • Never discuss illness, unless some special concern is shown.
  • Never pry into a person's personal circumstances (they'll tell you all eventually).
  • Never boast – just let your importance be quietly obvious.
  • Never be untidy.
  • Never get drunk.

Maria said, "Is someone who follows this advice a con man? Again, depends on intent."

I looked at the list and got scared anyway. I felt like a con man.

Although I guess I pry into people's personal circumstances. I enjoy doing that. But maybe I have to avoid writing about it afterwards. If I want to stay alive.

And I'm untidy. Even borderline dirty. TC mark

6 Ways To Protect Yourself From Getting Scammed

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:02 PM PST

Flickr Steven Depolo
Flickr Steven Depolo

If they're not trying to make you spend ridiculous amounts of money on technology, gadgets and other miscellaneous goods, they're robbing you of your hard-earned cash right in front of your eyes. Who are they? They are marketers, advertisements on TV, salespeople and anyone else in the business of selling you things you probably don't need. How are they robbing you right in front of your eyes? Through scams.

What are scams?
According to The Business Dictionary, something very serious, i.e., "a fraudulent scheme performed by a dishonest individual, group, or company in an attempt obtain money or something else of value." The worst part about them is how they have evolved thanks to the advent of the Internet and other technological advances. Individuals or companies that engage in such callous behavior pretend to have a skill or authority in the three most important parts of life, namely, health, money, and law. Think questionable doctor, foxy lawyer, and too good to be true investor.

So is all hope lost? Not if you read the following 6 scams and ways to spot the scam before it gets you.


1. Spam emails

What are they?
Basically, unsolicited emails from a person or groups of people that are trying to get your personal information for malicious intentions.

"You have won $1,000,000. Please provide your banking details to gain access to it. Hurry, as you only have 24 hours to do so before the account is frozen." At some point in your life, you may have received an email that stated something similar. If you're from Africa, you're usually told your distant relative six times removed has left you an inheritance in an account that can't be accessed without your banking details. Whatever the case may be, there is no relative, no benefactor/beneficiary, and certainly no money.

How can you protect yourself?
Most email accounts have spam filters and allow you to filter and ban email addresses that reek of spam material. Gmail is one of the best mail apps at monitoring and filtering spam, so create an account with them if you can. Also, let the experts deal with it. Inform them of spam accounts and leave the rest to them.


2. Phishing

What is it?
No, it's not a fancy type of fishing. It's actually a cunning way fraudsters try to access your personal information, such as banking details, usernames, and passwords under the false pretence of a legitimate company.

How can you protect yourself?
Make sure that the email you have received is from a trustworthy source.

Check spelling, grammar and whether links match up WITHOUT clicking on them.

You will NEVER be asked for your pin, password, or banking details over the phone or in an email.

Do not open the offensive email; report it to your bank as soon as possible.

Be sure to visit the bank in person if you are suspicious of any fraudulent activity on your account.


3. Spam calls

What are they?
Phone calls from unsolicited people or companies who try to get you to give personal information like usernames, banking details and passwords.

How can you protect yourself?
Again, like phishing and spam emails, one must be on the alert. A legitimate bank or law firm will not ask for your login details or personal details over the phone, in an email or in person.

Do not entertain the person on the phone and end the call as soon as possible.

Make a note of the number and report it to either your bank or the police.

Block the number and follow up on the case with the authorities.


4. Identity theft

What is it?
This happens when someone steals another person's identity in order to gain access to the victim's finances, granting them certain benefits and is generally to the victim's detriment.

How can you protect yourself?
There are many tips to prevent identity theft, read some of the best 100 tips to prevent identity theft. Here are some of them:

Be sure to collect and read all your mail.

Be very careful about how you dispose of your banking information.

Keep your pins, security numbers and other personal information closely guarded.

Check your bank statements thoroughly and report and suspicious behaviour promptly.

Shred all and any documents with sensitive information; tearing apart is just no good anymore.


5. Weak passwords

What are they?
A password is a secret combination of characters that allows you to access something. Passwords are very important because we need them to access our banking, our shopping, apps and other important, sensitive information. Therefore, a weak password is one that is very easy to guess and can make it much easier for your accounts to be targeted by scammers.

How can you protect yourself?
Because passwords can sometimes be a matter of life and death, it is important that you choose strong passwords.

Don't choose the most used password in the world, namely, "12345" for banking.

Also, don't use the same password across all platforms.

Be sure to use small letters, capital letters, numbers and special characters
.

Change your password often and make sure it is hard to guess.


6. Get-rich-quick schemes

What are they?
These are basically plans that promise to make you extremely rich over a short period of time. For example, "pay $400 now and make $2000 in two months by buying into this scheme." The person/company gain access to your money and you never hear from them again. Sound all too familiar?

How can you protect yourself?
There are a number of ways you can do this.

Do background checks on the person/company. Google is amazing at this.

Look up negative reviews about the scheme.

Educate yourself on what to look out for when it comes to get rich quick schemes.

There you have it. Six forms of scam to look out for and how to protect yourself from getting taken by one of them. Educate yourself on the abovementioned scams. Get help if you need it and don't hesitate to contact the authorities when you have suspicions. TC mark

19 Conventionally Attractive Women Explain How Being Hot Sometimes Makes Their Life Harder

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 08:00 PM PST

@alexandrahraskova
@alexandrahraskova

1. Hiring me for all the wrong reasons

I’ve been hired at two separate companies for a job that I knew I would like and that I was qualified for. However, I wasn’t brought on for the right reasons. The first one, apparently hired me for a position that wasn’t open then tried texting me every day outside of work because apparently he went out on a limb to get me in there. Dude, you almost got yourself canned for thinking wth your dick. The second, tried to pay me to sleep with him. Another company hired me “because [I] was hot” which I didn’t find out until I was told that’s what the hiring manager told a colleague after my interview. That job worked out just fine, actually. I got respect by doing my job well which was a nice surprise.

Also, I completely forgot about the workplace harassment! It was actually women who were the culprits no matter how modestly I dressed, ridiculously kind I was, or how far out of my way I went to prove myself valuable in job skills/intelligence.

— Alexispaige1124

2. She stuck it out and actually did really well

Years ago when I was still doing user support our CEO brought in a new executive assistant. She was young and extremely attractive. I generally tried to keep out of all the office politics etc., and didn’t mix with anyone I worked with socially. So I had a different perspective on what happened than most.

The new assistant had a lot of stuff to learn. There was a lot of software that she needed to know and frankly I think she was underqualified for the job, but she got it because her boss liked the look of her.

The guys in the office were mostly neutral but a lot of the type of harassment that you’re describing came from the other women, especially the older assistants.

But that kid stuck it out. She worked her butt off and amongst other things developed a reputation with the IT support guys for someone who never bugged us with anything she didn’t have to and took care of stuff that was actually our jobs (set up her own PC, researched licensing issues) without ever being asked.

Within a year she had more friends in the office than anyone else and was a very effective worker. She transferred out from under the jerk who hired her and wound up working for the CFO and got involved in a lot of stuff that was way over her pay grade.

Not sure why I shared all that. I was just thinking about her the other day and it was fresh in my mind.

— YouBWrong

3. They think I should be a trophy wife

No one takes me seriously. They assume that I’m stupid and even when I prove that I’m not, there’s still that feeling. It’s even been implied that I’d do best as a trophy wife by a manager before.

— satanandglitter

4. The jokes aren’t funny

This is my issue as a blonde/ blue eyed girl! I’m conventionally attractive enough for folks to automatically assume I’m an idiot, because OMG Blondes Are Dumb, aren’t they?! And then when I object to the stereotype, I get a lot of “well, you’re not dumb, so why do you have an issue with it?!”

— beachblanketparty

5. Socializing at work is tough

I have to be careful about going out drinking with male friends. After a few drinks, it’s not uncommon for them to get flirty (even if they’re in a relationship) and I hate having to find a non-awkward way to shut them down while somehow maintaining our friendship. Is it the most awful thing in the world? No. But I wish it wasn’t something I had to constantly worry about.

— Maddie-Moo

6. Have to act less attractive

I used to get unwanted attention if I dressed up when I was younger, so I “fixed” my walk so that there was no hip swinging, my head was straight, kind of ghost-like gliding, I dressed like a Tom boy most of the time, and put no effort in my daily look. You’ve got to be careful with guy friends, especially being single because you never know when someone develops feelings.

— ravenhelix

7. I can’t enjoy my hobbies

This is the most first-world of problems for me but, I’m a gamer, comic book nerd and all around music/band nerd.

I constantly get completely ignored or side-eyed if I ever try to engage in any of these communities. I stick to my hobbies at home with the small number of friends who know me well and don’t treat me like an imposter.

Despite wanting to get into cosplay, I don’t have it in me for the attention it would bring and yet another layer of “you don’t know anything, you just want the attention” – which is so much salt in the wound.

— sometimes_i_work

8. Male supervisors don’t take me seriously

I’m fairly young (mid twenties) and have had a hard time advancing in the workplace despite getting more responsibility at work. I was told by the HR person in charge of the hiring committee for the internal transfer I applied for that I didn’t have a chance because older male coworkers wont take me seriously and could get distracted.

I put in a complaint with the VP of staff and left that job.

— luckydime

9. Nobody expects anything from me

In college and grad school I had multiple professors tell me that they had drastically underestimated me based on my appearance, and pretty much ignored me for the first half of a semester before they began seeing my work. I remember one, who I generally really liked, mention me in front of the class, stating “nobody would ever guess by looking at you!” I always wanted to say that maybe they shouldn’t assess students based on superficial guesses. Instead, they should treat everyone the same, at least until they got to know what they were capable of.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much to be done in any particular situation. Personality (even a very biased perception of personality) often a primary factor when hiring and promoting people in the workplace. It’s a systematic cultural problem, much more so than deliberate choices. I’ve often felt that I had to choose between getting perceived as the cute, nonthreatening, person who can get walked-over, or a no-fun, domineering witch. I’m still not sure which is the better option.

Sadly, these responses, more often than not, come from men and women I genuinely like and respect. The thing is, an individual doesn’t need to be sexist to behave in a way that reflects a sexist culture. (As much as I continually try to change my thinking, I still find myself unfairly judging women all too regularly.) Gender disparities are so deeply ingrained in our culture, and across cultures, that we are rarely aware of how much they affect our perception.

— PM_ME_CORGlE_PlCS

10. Nobody will date me

For me, it’s actually a negative dating in the real world. The number of times I’ve heard “But you’re pretty, I can’t believe you’re single!” is bananas. It makes me think that no one is dating me or approaching me because they assume someone else is. DATE ME. PLEASE. I’M LONELY.

— captainsaveabro

11. Can’t find a relationship

Hahaha I think I’m fairly attractive, but I’m single. I do date/go out a lot but I don’t think success in the dating market is always about looking good. A lot of people tell me I have high standards (and not always about looks) and too choosy.

I have friends who aren’t pretty or good looking but they’re in stable relationships, never had to do too much of the dating games like I do. They’re definitely luckier than me in that department yet I’d always hear them say: “I don’t get it, you’re pretty!”

— mjsw143

12. It’s seriously hard to date

So sad :( I’ve had guys i liked scared off because their friends thought I was hot. (Obviously these guys were insecure for letting that affect shit, but still.)

It’s a lonely life!

— fit_tits

13. People don’t want me to be smart

I’m also tall, thin and into retro stuff, so if I’m quiet for a long(er) period of time, people assume I’m just another dumb blonde.

Then I start talking and me having pursuing a masters degree is no longer questionable, and people run away.

I’ve made peace with it.

— caesarea

14. Stop trying to get with me!

Seriously! I can’t joke around with some of my male customers because they will try aggressively to go out with me even though I have a pretty obvious wedding band on. One guy even told me I should cheat on my husband with him. I’m not even supermodel looking or anything; I think a lot of men get off on creeping chicks out

— PoseidonsDick

15. Hard to find female friends, but creepers find me all the time

I don’t consider myself overly attractive, but random guys on the street ask me if I want to grab a coffee or give them my number regularly. The negative side effect: creepy old men follow me or try to talk to me in public. They enter my personal space and i am scared. Some guy even followed me home and tried to rape me. Also male friends are hitting on me with only a few exceptions. Female friends are hard to find as well.

— souLxTears

16. My students want to sleep with me

I’m a teacher who is reasonably attractive…. It sucks. I teach English to adults, and am often the first American woman that my students come into close contact with (my younger students anyway).

With stereotypes of American women being easy (and American teachers sleeping with students) I need to constantly put up with advances from my students. I get new students every week because of open enrollment, so it happens at least once every two weeks or so. Most of them are harmless but some of them are very sexual explicit or vulgar.

I have to be especially careful of the clothing I wear to work so that it doesn’t accentuate my butt or bust. I also spend a large chunk of my time writing student incident reports and attending meetings when I could be lesson planning. And it’s hurt my relationship with other students because I’m afraid to get too close/friendly in case they go too far.

— eururong

17. It really, really sucks

I get catcalled / honked at a lot. I know this happens to a lot of women, but it just happens to me so frequently and I’m constantly worried about my safety. The other day I took a 15 min walk and in that time I got honked at twice and a guy got out of his car at a red light to ask me if I needed a ride. It just makes me scared sometimes. I’d just like to be able to take a nice walk without worrying about that kind of thing.

People definitely underestimate my intelligence as well. It rubs me the wrong way when people act all surprised that I’m actually smart.

Having straight male friends is tough. My closest friends are women or gay men. I have some straight guy friends but usually they end up hitting on me at some point or another. I shoot it down but some of them still hold out a little hope. I have one pretty good straight guy friend and I think the only reason we can be that way is because we established early on we aren’t interested in one another romantically. I don’t like to buy stock into the idea that straight men and women can’t be friends but it’s hard not to think that it’s nearly impossible if the man is attracted to the woman at this point in my life after it’s happened so often.

— nattyicequeen

18. Too many people ask me out!

Can’t make a single guy friend because most of them eventually end up asking me out. Can only be friends with a few select woman because the rest are overbearing. Needless to say, I run in small circles.

— melindang

19. It just sucks sometimes

So being mildly attractive as a woman sucks if you join the military. Also being a physics major in college sucked big time, too. Oh and definitely have fun being taken seriously in a job for aeronautical engineering (this job only lasted 6 months, thankfully).

Seriously. You can be a 5/7 and all of these things suck big time.

Really glad that I don’t work conventional jobs anymore.

— xfitsally TC mark

Why They Will Fall Out Of Love With You, Based On Their Zodiac Sign

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 07:00 PM PST

e.cook46
e.cook46

Aries

(March 21st to April 19th)
The feisty, sexy Ram lives for the thrill of the chase. There is nothing more attractive and desirable to an Aries than a challenge. The harder you get to play, the more likely they are to lust after you. The faster you run, the more likely they are to catch you. If he thinks that there are others competing for you, that's even better. Chances are they fell out of love because you gave up the goodies too soon. Ignore them and if they comes back, pretend you're the trophy, and that you're way out of their league. (even if you secretly know you're not.)

Taurus

(April 20th to May 21st)
It takes a lot for the reliable and trustworthy Taurus to lose interest. They are usually loyal and caring. Perhaps you did something unpredictable and shocking for them to fall out of love. Maybe you were too rebellious, freedom-loving or loud-mouthed. If this is what you are truly like, and not because of some deep-seated issues, then rock on! You don't need this boring bull to drag you down. You are probably better off without them.

Gemini

(May 22nd to June 21st)
The intellectual Gemini is driven by his curiosity and the need to explore the depths of your mind. They need to fell like they're constantly exploring and discovering the fascinating mystery that you are. The reason they fell out of love you with is that you told them your deepest, darkest secrets on the first few dates, or perhaps you were just boring as f**ck. Next time, don't tell them everything, or better yet, turn the tables and keep asking them questions. God knows, they love talking about themselves. If you want to get even, find out everything about them by getting as close as possible, and then suddenly leave.

Cancer

(June 22nd to July 22nd)
Cancers never fall out of love, like never. They will remember you till the end of time. Almost every relationship of theirs is a rebound of the last one, and so on. If your Cancer seems to have fallen out of love, chances are that you've hurt them in some way. Cancers crawl into their crabby little shells at the slightest hint of rejection and take everything personally. If you want them back, apologize or write a sentimental love note. If you really hurt them deeply though, they might not give you a second chance.

Leo

(July 23rd to August 22nd)
The reason a Leo fell out of love with you is because you stopped providing for their insatiable need for sycophantic adoration. Leos need to be reminded that they are the greatest thing that's ever happened to you, and how lucky you are to be with them, every single day of your entire life. If you want them to fall back in love with you, fall at the mighty cat's feet, and pledge your undying loyalty. Even the king/queen of the jungle needs petting sometimes, even if it for the sake of their ego.

Virgo

(August 23rd to September 22nd)
I'll be honest about you with this one. You weren't good enough for them, but you know what, no one ever will be. Immature Virgos seek perfection that doesn't exist, because they don't want to face the imperfections in themselves. They overanalyze every single thing you do, and nothing satisfies them. Even if you do manage to get them back, they will be nitpicky and overcritical. Babe, you may not believe this, but you are so enough. On the other hand, if theywere matured, then they probably gave you chances and you kept blowing them. In that case, you don't deserve them.

Libra

(September 23rd to October 22nd)
This one likes his partner to be classy, artsy and graceful. Chances are they fell out of love, because you showed the ugly side of your nature. Remember, Libra likes everything to be beautiful and perfectly balanced. They can be naively idealistic and want their love lives to be that dreamy, fantastical place they can escape to, not escape from. So, if you've got a sailor mouth, love drama and fighting, loath arts and culture, and dress shabbily, they definitely fell out of love with you because of who you are. Change for them or don't, your wish.

Scorpio

(October 23rd to November 22nd)
If a Scorpio fell out of love with you, it's because you couldn't meet their deathly eye glare or sustain the depths of their emotional intensity. Perhaps they got suspicious because they found a secret gift under your bed (which was actually a surprise for them, but they probably won't believe you) Maybe you couldn't commit to being their one and only everlasting soul mate on the first date. If the relationship ended badly, oh man, I'm scared for your future. Sweet revenge is coming babe, you better run and hide. The longer it is in the waiting, the worse it will be.

Sagittarius

(November 23rd to December 21st)
If you've managed to make a Sagittarius fall in love with you, you are probably fun, charming and adventurous. There is only one reason they fell out of love with you, and that is because they felt pressurized for a commitment. If you just want to have a fling, pretend to be okay with a friends-with-benefits casual relationship (you can go crazy emotional on them after it's over) If you're looking for something serious and don't want to be heartbroken, give them an ultimatum. If they're done hoeing around, they'll grow up and commit to you. If not, you could be saying a permanent healthy goodbye. Walk away with your dignity and self- respect intact.

Capricorn

(December 22nd to January 20th)
Capricorns are focused on their work, and you most likely impeded them from their tunnel-vision pursuit of professional success. Maybe you were too spiritual for their materialism. Perhaps you were too dreamy for their realism. They respect people who are as disciplined and ambitious as themselves, so if you're a chill, laidback, go-with the-flow type, they probably got tired of spotting patterns in clouds with you. If they fell out of love, their cold hearts have probably forgotten you. I know it's hard, but move on, and find someone who values the heart more than the head.

Aquarius

(January 21st to February 18th)
If an Aquarius has fallen out of love with you, you will never hear from them again. When a relationship ends with an Aquarius, there are no heated arguments or fireworks. They just turn cold as a freezer. Did they ghost you and disappear into thin air? Stop looking for closure, because you aren't going to get any. Aquarians are awfully scared of their emotions, so it's most likely that you were clingy and crazy. These air signs have the unique ability to cut off from their feelings, and intellectualize them. If you want to get them back, don't emotionally manipulate them. Appeal to their rational sense and logically talk it out.

Pisces

(February 19th to March 20th)
Pisces will fall out of love with you if you bring them back to hard, crushing reality. These gentle signs prefer to avoid uncomfortable and confrontational situations. Perhaps you were too harsh and rough with their sensitive natures, and they retreated into their world. Pisces are elusive, and once they're out of your grasp, you'll have a hard time catching these slippery fish again. If you want them back, appeal to their romantic side. Provide a soft and safe sanctuary for them to come back to, and you just might manage to lure them in again. TC mark

Godwin’s Law, Normalcy Bias, And Donald Trump

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 05:46 PM PST

Pixabay / succo
Pixabay / succo

“The reason why the totalitarian regimes can get so far toward realizing a fictitious, topsy-turvy world is that the outside nontotalitarian world, which always comprises a great part of the population of the totalitarian country itself, indulges also in wishful thinking and shirks reality in the face of real insanity just as much as the masses do in the face of the normal world.”

— Hannah Arendt, 1951

We are a nation of Godwin's Law (or at least some distorted version of it). Any time someone invokes an analogy to Nazi Germany, no matter how educated the person or how salient the similarities, we collectively and summarily dismiss the argument. The analogy always strikes as a form of intellectual and rhetorical laziness. It is viewed as a fear tactic, and thus anyone who proposes it, at best, need not be taken seriously or, at worst, is a hyper-partisan crackpot. Surely it can't happen here.

The dismissal is itself lazy. People who invoke the analogy are not actually arguing that the systematic execution of Jewish people in camps is on America's political horizon. Rather, most are warning us about more abstract similarities. Those similarities are worth considering carefully since, as the analogy suggests, something abstract and implausible can lead to concrete atrocities. And when they do, people wonder how it happened and search for a definitive point at which their world crossed over from demagogic threats to real horror. Was there a single moment of moral choice in which one of the options was pure moral depravity? What we learn from Nazi Germany is that there is no definitive point. There were people sounding the alarm from the beginning. Unfortunately they were viewed as hyper-partisan crackpots.

The dismissal is also a 'hasty generalization': it draws a broad conclusion from an insufficient set of evidence. There are plenty of weak Hitler analogies. They are easy to parody in conversation ("ya know, the Nazis had pieces of flare that they made the jews wear."). But it is gross illogic to leap from the weak analogies in conversation to the conclusion that we can dismiss all Nazi Germany analogies. If an American politician proposed making America Judenrein, wouldn't Hitler analogies be an acceptable part of our condemnation of this person?

Why do we dismiss the analogies? The answer perhaps has to do with some form of pride. We as a nation are too good to fall into such evil. America would never kill large numbers of innocent people on the basis of race or religion! Those actions are relegated to the barbaric ancient times of the 1940s. Or the pride might be personal. I myself am too good and reflective. Surely I wouldn't stand by and watch (let alone participate) in killing or harming innocent people. For instance, I would never be a slave owner, a segregationist, or someone contributing to mass incarceration! The philosopher Hannah Arendt suggested that personal confidence in one's probity is usually never tested in ways that could lead to the type of condemnation we give the Nazis. We are simply lucky not to be given historically significant moral choices. We know from history that when faced with those choices, many normal and decent people fail. We might well be facing those choices now. Time will tell. But while we wait for history to judge us, perhaps we can fill our time with some honest moral self-reflection.

Another way to explain the dismissal of the analogies is through a common cognitive failure: the normalcy bias. We underestimate the possibility of disaster, especially when the disaster is unprecedented. The normalcy bias comes through in our "normalizing." If you suggest that America qua stable democracy is facing an existential crisis, you immediately place yourself on the crackpot fringes. Keith Olbermann, who is consciously trying to overcome normalcy bias in "The Resistance" video series, is being placed in the looney bin. If something has never happened before, we wrongly assume that it will not happen. When it does happen, we contort it into something normal. We normalize it by explaining it retroactively, by making it an effect of a familiar cause, a past that, in hindsight, holds still long enough for us to conjure up a rationalization of how we got here from there. We do not do it intentionally or consciously. Even when we recognize that we have done it, we continue to do it. The future will be like the past. The sun will rise tomorrow because the sun has risen everyday so far. If I predict that the sun will not rise at some point in the future, even if I have fairly compelling evidence, the initial epistemic urge is to dismiss me. We trust that urge (and label it 'conventional wisdom') within the realm of politics. If a US president has never become and authoritarian in the past, then it will not happen in the future. Q.E.D.

When we state it explicitly we see how absurd it is. The normalcy bias has been on display all throughout the campaign.

"Trump won't be taken seriously as a candidate."
"There is no way Trump will win a primary state."
"He couldn’t possibly win the nomination."
"He couldn’t win the general election."

Why did so many people say these things? Typically they had no reason other than the fact that something like it had never happened before. They knew on some rational level that it was possible, but that possibility was not reflected in their thinking, speaking, and writing. The past was meant to be a good guide to the future. The sun always rises.

There is another possible psychological explanation: perhaps people discounted the possibility of Trump's rise because the potential reality of an avowed pussy-grabber becoming president was so disturbing that they could not countenance the thought. They assigned it a lower probability as a defense mechanism. But again, we have a responsibility—if at least to ourselves alone—not to believe what soothes our sensibilities or aligns with our preferences. It is more comforting to believe that the sun will rise, and so we have a temptation to ignore evidence to the contrary. Wishful thinking is dangerous, especially in the realm of politics, where it is people fighting to prevent the worst from happening that prevents the worst from happening.

It is time to start thinking clearly and honestly. Our inductive inferences need to be based on a broader conception of the past, one that includes atrocities and pogroms, even if our pride tells us to ignore them.

We have opportunities to improve each day. What are the new predictions?

"Trump cannot severely undermine American democracy."

"Trump will not transform America into a Russia or the Philippines."

"Trump will not start a devastating war through his stunning ineptitude."

"Trump will allow the 2020 election to take place."

Surely he will, right? But we must ask ourselves why we believe it. When we reflect honestly we find no good answer. We find assumptions that American traditions hold with unbreakable strength. Traditions, we must ask, like not insulting respected war heroes? Like not mocking a reporter with a disability? Like not releasing any tax returns whatsoever for no reason whatsoever? Like not admitting to and bragging about sexual assault? Like not saying that a sexual assault accuser is not attractive enough to be assaulted by him? Traditions and customs like a respect for facts and reality, respect for national intelligence agencies, respect for the democratic process, and respect for the press have been attacked and undermined by a man who is now the most powerful person in the world.

We must stop basing predictions on these traditions. They are comforting and it is nice to believe that they are ironclad. But they have been slipping away. What justification do we have to think that our most cherished traditions will remain? our most cherished institutions? democracy itself? Our answers, so far, are rooted in cognitive biases.

We should adopt a precautionary principle:

Since Trump's presidency may lead to unacceptable and unprecedented damage that is plausible but uncertain, actions should be taken to avoid or diminish that harm.

In other words, where there are threats of serious and unprecedented damage, lack of conclusive reasons to think Trump will not cause such damage should itself be a reason to fight to prevent the damage. (My phrasing is parallel to the UN's Rio Declaration.) If the reasons are not forthcoming, we must take the abnormal and destructive possibilities very seriously. We cannot continue to close our eyes and hope for the best. We cannot wait for the damage before acting. Do we have good reason to think that Trump will allow the 2020 election to take place? The answer is no. So we must fight adamantly to ensure our tradition of regular and binding elections stays in place. Important American institutions, as we have seen, survive largely through convention and the respect leaders have for convention. In the absence of that respect, we have no reason to believe that the institutions will survive. The principle tells us to be proactive, even if it makes us look like crackpots. TC mark

One Day He’s Going To Realize He Screwed Up (But You Won’t Care Anymore)

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 05:00 PM PST

@bubblegumwhore
@bubblegumwhore

When people mess up, they know it. Even if they stroll away like nothing happened. Even if they act as though they were never in the wrong. Maybe you start to wonder if they truly believe that; if they’ve rewritten history to come across as the good guy in this. What if you’re the only one still privy to the truth?

Trust me, he knows what he did.

And maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even a month from now, but eventually, that pit in the bottom of his stomach is going to start gnawing away. He’ll blame acid reflux. He’ll down Tums like breath mints. But your face will find him in the middle of the night when he stumbles upon your Instagram. Or maybe he goes looking for you, for signs of his mistakes and if you’re happy or still mourning his absence.

Maybe he’ll text you. It always seems innocent. A simple, “how are you?” perhaps.

But you’ll remember how he destroyed you. Or, more appropriately, how he tried.

One day, he’s going to realize he screwed up. It’s going to hit him like one of those cartoon anvils leaving him stumbling, trying desperately to figure out how to undo it.

He’ll beat himself up for losing you. He’ll rethink every moment up until now and think how much easier, sweeter, better things would be if he still had you. He’ll hate himself a little bit. Maybe more than a little bit.

One day, he’s going to want you back. He’s going to reach out and hope it’s not too late to re-establish something. He’ll say that he was dumb or an idiot, but never fully take responsibility. He’ll say the words, but there won’t be substance behind them.

One day, he’s going to give you everything you spent all those tearful nights praying for.

But one day? You won’t even care. TC mark

This Is How Relationships End

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 04:00 PM PST

 Natalie Allen
Natalie Allen

Relationships end when you stop communicating.

When you stop saying the good things and the hard things, when you stop telling your partner how much you appreciate them and when you stop telling them what upsets you but you let your emotions bottle up instead. Relationships end when you start talking to everyone about your problems and you forget to talk it out with your partner first, they end when you don't explain yourself to each other and you start explaining yourself to someone else.

Relationships end when you stop showing love and affection to each other.

When you think romance has an expiration date, when you get too comfortable that you forget to show each other how much you care, when you become so sure that your partner won't go anywhere so you stop showing appreciation or making an effort. When you start taking them for granted, when you stop thanking them for what they do and thanking them for who they are. Relationships end when you kill love with your own hands, when you claim that love eventually fades away and there's nothing you can do about it.

Relationships end when you stop trying to understand each other.

When you stop trying to be there for each other and when you stop doing all the little things that matter, the little things that makes the world a better place, like a genuine smile, a loving touch, a kind word and just letting someone know that they don't have to be alone. Relationships end when you stretch the gap between you and your partner that you end up feeling like you're all alone — when you stop missing each other because you miss your ‘independence.’ 

Relationships end when you decide not to be vulnerable.

When you don't show someone your real self including your fears, your insecurities and all your scars. They end when your partner only knows one version of you, when you don't let them see the softer, more delicate parts of you. The parts that you show no one else — the parts that they could break. They end when you're scared to show them how much you need them or how you can't imagine your life without them. They end when the ego replaces the heart.

Sometimes relationships end because it wasn't meant to be and because even after trying everything, both people just grew apart but sometimes relationships end too soon, they end for all the wrong reasons, they end even though they could've lasted and they end because two people were too stubborn, too prideful, too scared and too guarded to open up and let each other in.

Some relationships end because they were a bit hard, but relationships are not supposed to easy, they're not supposed to be perfect and maybe the expectation that they have to be is the one that ruins them all.

Relationships end when you let them die instead of working hard to save them. TC mark