I’ve always liked side-shows, even though they’re a con. There’s a certain entertainment value in being fooled – as long as you know the difference once you’ve left the tent Let’s take a moment to bring you up to speed. When Labour’s mandatory ID cards hit the streets, they’ll include all your personal details and possibly a tracking device – and you’ll be fined if you move house and don’t tell the government. On a slow news day, even media whores get a bit edgy about this stuff and there have even been a few nervous accounts creeping into the tabloids of the portents of pending police-state Britain. But time is running out, and I’ve decided that enough is enough.
Although Homer Simpson says that harassment and oppression is a small price to pay for freedom, I’ve decided that I will categorically refuse to have an ID card – regardless. And if anyone else out there wants to retain the freedom to choose, the time to start making those choices is now.

Apart from the ongoing political circus, there’s plenty of other weirdness creating static out there, too. Since the second Gulf War, over 10,000 artifacts from museums in Iraq have ‘disappeared’. Reports suggest that the Holy Grail is about to be excavated near Renne le Chateau, and that the Ark of the Covenant is apparently buried in Warwickshire. Following a series of thefts of mystical and esoteric items from various museums over the past few months, the rare 16th-century crystal ball that belonged to John Dee, alchemist and magician to Elizabeth I, has been stolen from the Science Museum in London. John Dee, philosopher, mathematician and astrologer, was an authority on “angel magic” and beliefs that man had the potential for divine power.

The thief also took a statement about the ball’s use by the pharmacist Nicholas Culpeper, written on the reverse of ancient Dee manuscripts in the mid-1600s. Stolen to order? Probably. Anyway, if you start to notice your reality tunnel starting to twist during the next few months, it could be because some person or organization has a lot of interesting new toys to play with. Or, it could just be another con.

Of course, unlike the rest of you poor slobs out there, I don’t have to worry. It seems that I’ve mysteriously won $1,000,000 on an Internet lottery. No, I never bought a ticket, nor did I ever enter any promotion or competition. But, according to the emails, “This lottery is a promotional program by SPINLOTTO, (Biggest lottery Organisation in the Netherlands) to advertise its existence to the world”. All participants, according to coordinator Kim Walters, were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 50,000 companies and 2,000,000 individual email addresses from all over the world, as part of their international promotions program, which they conduct several times a year. All I had to do was contact my processing agent, a Mr Paul Krum, and the money was mine. Well, nearly. There was also a rider that said that “all winnings must be notarized and an [sic] certificate of award must be obtained from the Netherlands Gaming Control Board to complete the claims process, this certificate can only be obtained through legal representation so winners will be referred to a lawyer to assist in this process. Winners are to cover the legal charges for the notarisation of the claims form and the acquisition of the certificate of award not Spinlotto”.

On an evening when my iBook’s back-lighting was working, I decided to check Spinlotto on the Internet. Indeed, there’s a Web site for the company. Not a very good one, but there is one. There are also several dozen sites that say it’s a huge scam. So, I wrote back to Paul Krum and said I assumed this was just another con, but if not, let me know what I needed to do to get my money.

Paul Krum wrote back saying he understood my reticence, given the number of scams on the Internet, but assured me that this is legitimate. I wrote back saying that a lot of people thought they were crooks, but I’d play for a bit. After sending back the form, I got another email from Krum with a copy of a claim processing form and the name and address of Hulsman & Blake, a law firm in the Netherlands. I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re going to ask for money, but I’ll just suggest that they take their ‘notarisation fee’ out of my winnings. I mean, that makes sense, doesn’t it? Well, according to other ‘winners’ online Web-sites, perhaps not.

I haven’t sent off the Claim Processing form yet, but I probably will. I may even ring John Blake at the law firm for a nice chat about my winnings. I mean, you can’t be cheated by a law firm… can you? Surely they’re only there to look after my best interests.

PT Barnum said a fool is born every minute. And there must be quite a few out there to keep people like this lot in business. Next month, I’ll probably have the back-lighting on my iBook fixed, but I probably won’t be a millionaire. However, I’ll let you know any of the other interesting things this lotto lot may have to say. In the mean time, it’s probably worth remembering that if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. And even if you aren’t the man in the black coat that stole John Dee’s crystal ball, you could always employ the Black Djinn curse described in one of these columns last year to have some fun with this lot and any other sideshow charlatans like them.

Life used to be a lot easier when you could tell the good guys from the bad guys. Nowadays it seems that even the good guys are the bad guys, and that makes things a lot more complicated. Forget the anecdotal diversions and the herd-mentality displacement activities. There are things out there that really are important to all of us and all of us need to recognize them for what they are and take a stand accordingly. As author Edgar Davis Dodds once said, “Freedom resides in being equal to your needs”… providing you can comprehend the difference between necessity and desire. MW