World’s Littlest Skyscraper

“Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.”

—-The Big Short

World’s littlest skyscraper, Wichita Falls, Texas

I don’t know how, but I stumbled across the story of the world’s littlest skyscraper in Wichita Falls, Texas.

I’ve been to Wichita Falls many times… mostly on the way to somewhere else. Not always, when I was younger I used to ride my bike in the Hotter’N Hell 100 mile race. It is famous around these parts – and accurately named.

Once I was in the airport in Wichita Kansas, and in front of me in line at the counter was a panicked young man in an Air Force uniform. “But I’m supposed to be in Wichita Falls!” he said to the agent. As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls.

But back to the littlest skyscraper. Apparently, right after oil was discovered in the Burkburnett field, Wichita Falls became another one of Texas’ many boom towns. They needed office space.

So a con man pitched the idea of a skyscraper. It was going to be 408″ tall. Unfortunately the rubes were so excited they didn’t understand the difference – ‘=feet and “=inches. So the 408 foot skyscraper turned out to be only 408 inches tall – about four stories – and the developer fled town with the excess cash.

I don’t know if I’m going to be back in Wichita Falls anytime soon – but I hope I am. I’ll definitely stop at the skyscraper… even if it’s the worlds littlest.

What I learned this week, June 29, 2012

The Terms

Great News! One of my favorite independant Coffee Houses – The Pearl Cup – is opening a new branch in Richardson – the city where I live. It is planned on opening in late September or August. It won’t be particularly close to my house (It’s in a very nice neighborhood – not the kind of place where people like me live) but it will be a lot easier to get to than the one down on Henderson in the City. Nobody goes there anyway, it’s way too crowded.

Pearl Cup to Open a Location in Richardson!

Dallas Observer Best Coffee Shop – The Pearl Cup

The Bartender’s Tale: How the Watergate Burglars Got Caught

Think you know everything about Watergate? Leave it to a barman to add a surprising twist to Washington’s most enduring story

Turing the tables on scammers

Why would a Nigerian scammer admit that he’s from Nigeria? After all, Nigeria is notorious for fraudulent emails. Shouldn’t the fraudsters claim instead to be from Turkey or South Africa or, really, anywhere but Nigeria? That’s a question asked by Microsoft researcher, Cormac Herley, and seconded by security guru Bruce Schneier. Herley’s insightful answer looks at the economics of scam emails:

Attacking the maximum number of people does not maximize profit. … Since the scam is entirely one of manipulation he would like to attack (i.e., enter into correspondence with) only those who are most gullible. … Since gullibility is unobservable, the best strategy is to get those who possess this quality to self-identify. An email with tales of fabulous amounts of money and West African corruption will strike all but the most gullible as bizarre.

Nigerian scams are labor intensive for the scammer, but only after the first bite. Actually landing even the most gullible correspondents takes time, effort, and skill that the scammers don’t want to waste.