Sunday 17 January 2010

Still learning to write blogs

Still learning to write

I will be the first to say that my blog is nowhere near perfect; I am constantly finding ways to improve my blogs in the language and expression I use as well as the aesthetic view of the blog.

In the end, I think a blog should be readable in all senses of that word, I admit that sometimes the sentence construction in my blogs can be inscrutable and I have a tendency to use multi-syllabic words in expression.

There are reasons for that but those reasons cannot be easily expressed, let us just agree that the voice is unique to the writer and that is how the writer is best able to express himself.

The words must not fade away

For many, simplicity in language and communication is essential, I believe that is important, but English as international as it is, is in danger of losing some of its colour and articulation if we allow whole sections of the vocabulary to go redundant for the sake of reaching the lowest common denominator of reader.

When I first started blogging over 6 years ago, even I after passing my texts through the Fleisch-Kincaid reading scales felt a lot needed to be done about the way I write, I think I have improved, it is a work in progress.

Records of long paragraphs

However, the part that gets me most about blogs is the look, I was just trying to read a review of District 9 and after a few paragraphs I gave up. Not because the writer did not have something important to say, rather it was because the blog presentation was not aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

There were paragraphs of up to 20 lines, the punctuation was weak and it looked interminably cluttered, it was a pain to read and you could be keep a train of thought going if your eyes skipped a portion of the blog.

Some bloggers do not editing their copy by going through the published material to see if things look good and right, I am forever editing my blogs and making corrections even to blogs years old if I notice something is wrong.

Rules of the thumb

I usually write my blogs in a word processor and then transfer it to the blog host where hopefully there is no need for changing the formatting.

In my word processor, I try not to let any of my paragraphs exceed 5 lines, at the very maximum, 6 lines of text and there are is a clear delineation between paragraphs – some white space, making it easy on the eye.

I have always captioned my blogs such that groups of paragraphs normally 2 to 4 paragraphs have a bold caption giving an idea of what is about to be read and breaking up the presentation into easy chunks whilst giving it a sense of flow – I have always felt that was the best way to offer material especially on blogs.

It is saddening to realise that there are many blogs I would have liked to read from the beginning to the end but have failed that basic requirement of good presentation.

A treatise I decline

As I prepare my blogs on my word processor, I am conscious of the length of my copy and I strive to keep it to a maximum of three pages, if it gets to a fourth page it probably should be split into two blogs and offered in parts.

I was reading an opinion on Sahara Reporters the other day and it could well have been the length of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, it was unbelievably long my scrollbar slider is so thin, it was nigh invisible. It was a treatise with opinions like needles lost in a haystack, I am not the best at précis or concision but really.

There was no way that blog would get read completely except by a speed reader and it is possible the writer just dumped all his thoughts in there with fully copies of his references without appropriate links and worse.

I follow the basic function of a good skirt; it should be long enough to cover the detail and short enough to keep the interest – that makes a good blog and I am still an apprentice seamstress learning about how to make a good skirt on my manual sewing machine – feet to the pedal, hopefully, I am using the right stitch.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Beware of Online Romance Fraud

No more a laughing matter

In August 2007, I made such great fun out of an Australian sheep farmer who had been tricked into travelling all the way to Mali to meet a young and beautiful Liberian bride ready to pay him a hefty bride price. In Silly Dingo hooked by Nubian money boobs [1], I had a field day of jest and comical levity which on the serious side included a kidnap for ransom and threats to his life but for the quick thinking of his embassy.

In a new report in The Independent [2], it appears this is a serious issue and no more a matter for idle jest in what is now known as “romance fraud”.

Romance fraud

What romance fraud entails is a fraudulent group setting up a profile of a prospective partner on some international dating site and luring suitors into the possibility of love and romance. The exchanges can get to a point that they are impossible to share with others and therein is the lure.

The target is unwittingly drawn into confidence and faith that it is enough to compel travelling to meet the partner who sometimes is in some West African country. On arrival, the target is kidnapped and held for ransom before release, by which time the “stupidity” of the target is public knowledge and seeking redress is almost impossible for the shame of it all.

Loving into crime

This is even made worse for those seeking same-sex relationships in countries where homosexuality is seen as taboo. There, desperate young men offering undying love of the type one cannot find in more “liberal” countries with commitments bordering of subservience are sometimes an irresistible lure and at the same time leave the target with the impossibility of reporting the fraud to the authorities.

The view is that these crimes are under-reported; the victims are left licking their wounds and rebuilding their pride having been damaged by these unfortunate alliances.

Be wary, be alert

That is not to say one cannot find love online and in these dating forums, it is just important that one be very wary of impossible promises, besides one should find alternative ways of verifying that the prospects are indeed real rather than frauds, in fact, no matter the level of trust developed engaging your embassy in ascertaining facts or even serious crime agencies in detective work has more than a useful end for the purposes of safety.

Once you become the welfare source for your prospect by sending money for everyday things of life, your suspicious should be aroused and be ready no matter the level of lewdness in exchanges has become to cut your losses and run.

The most important thing is not to be ruled by the prospect of the best sex you have never had with the most beautiful thing that does not exist but in empty words and false photographs.

Do not divulge any unique details like full names, full addresses (emails should do) and never your bank account details. If anything of this romance is too good to be true, it probably is, think of yourself being groomed and lured rather than being wooed.

Shamefully, Nigeria and Ghana show up as places where your travel to see your computer lover might well be an ordeal you will not wish on your worst enemy.


[1] Silly Dingo hooked by Nubian money boobs []

[2] Briton suffers 'romance fraud' kidnap ordeal - Crime, UK - The Independent