A World Full of Cheats

5 Aug

I think it was the Dalai Lama that once said, “Cheating is what separates us from the animals,” moments before he swindled Desmond Tutu in a game of high stakes poker.  As humans, sometimes we can’t help it (some more than others – cough, cough, Lance Armstrong, cough) but in recent weeks there have been some people in the news for cheating (or almost cheating) in the most ludicrous of ways.

First comes a man who cheated the system.  Lenin Carballido narrowly won the mayoral election of San Agustin Amatengo, a village near the colonial city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, and was all set to take up public office.  I know what you’re thinking, but no – Carballido did not rig the election to cheat his way into office.  There was a different problem.

Carballido was dead.

Well, strictly speaking – from a purely scientific perspective – Carballido wasn’t actually dead, insofar as he was technically alive.  However a death certificate had surfaced, indicating that he supposedly had died in 2010 of a diabetic coma.  A slight problem if someone wants to take office.

"I can't believe that worked!"

“I can’t believe that worked!”

It turns out that Carballido had forged his death certificate in order for his family to convince police to drop an arrest warrant against him.  It had worked – until Carballido was stupid enough to run for the most public role in the town and think no one would be suspicious that he also was legally dead.  Not the smartest mayoral policy.

In a bizarrely analogous story of people being both dead and alive, doctors at St Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York, were about to operate on a dead woman in order to harvest her organs.  Just as the doctors were about to remove her organs, the woman, Colleen Burns, woke up.  Now a zombie, Colleen rampaged through the hospital, killing innocent people and eating their brains.  OK, that bit’s not true, but she did wake up on the operating table moments before being carved open, surprising everyone.

Burns was lucky to cheat death, but the hospital is now under investigation after it was discovered that there were several things that could have indicated to a talented doctor, if he or she were observant enough, that Burns was in fact not as dead as was claimed.  For example, the day before the operation her toes moved in response to a reflex test.  Also, her nostrils flared on the way to the operating room, indicating that she was breathing independently.  Her lips and tongue were also moving.  I don’t claim to be a doctor, but I would be fairly confident that these are signs of a living person.

The good news is that a spokesman for the hospital stated that they have learned from the experience and “modified our policies”.  I assume that the modified policy is along the lines of “don’t harvest organs from living people”.

Possibly Colleen Burns.

Possibly Colleen Burns.

In Japan, men and women all over the country are trying to cheat fate, and doing so in a peculiar manner: by having surgery on their hands.  How does that work exactly?  The trend relies on the ancient practice of palmistry, the belief that someone’s future can be read by looking at the lines on their palm.  So people who don’t like their future are having surgery to extend or add lines, thus altering their destiny.

Apparently men are interested in changing their business and financial lines, whereas women are most interested in changing their marriage lines.  Robin Thicke is interested in blurred lines.

Dr Matsuoka of Shonan Beauty Clinic’s Shinjuku branch said that you cannot perform the surgery with a laser, as it “heals, and it won’t leave a clear mark.”  Instead he performs surgery with an “electric scalpel and make a shaky incision on purpose, because palm lines are never completely straight.”  Ouch.  And so it is that many people try to improve their future health and finances by booking themselves in for a painful surgical procedure that will cost them $1100.  That makes perfect sense.

In the US, there was an interesting story about a man trying not to cheat.  Melissa Nelson, 33, had worked as a dental assistant to James Knight for a decade, before Knight fired her.  Nelson was a diligent worker who was very good at her job, but Knight felt that he had no choice but to dismiss her, on account of the fact that she was too attractive and he was worried he would have an affair.  Looks like the only occasion where it wouldn’t pay to be a ‘model employee’ (pun!).

Nelson sued Knight, but the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the District Court’s original ruling that such firings do not count as illegal sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings rather than gender.   Following that logic, I expect a spike in other firings motivated by feelings in the workplace.  Of hatred and annoyance.

The case also raises another question.  How does it make the other members of Knight’s all-female staff – including Nelson’s replacement – feel?  It must be the only workplace in the world where staff are offended if they don’t get fired.

The most blatant cheating of recent weeks, however, happened in Nigeria, and it didn’t even involve an email seeking bank account details.  Two amateur soccer teams, United Feeders and Police Machine (awesome names!), were fighting it out in a tournament to get promoted to the Nationwide League Division 3, Nigeria’s lowest professional league.  As both teams had the exact same records and the exact same for and against, the team that won their final game by the most goals would score the coveted promotion to the professional league.  In a very, very subtle ploy to be the successful team, Police Machine won their game 67 – 0.  Not a typo – that’s 67 goals!  Given that they had scored a combined two goals in their other two games, the result raised some eyebrows.

"Oh no!  I totally let in another goal!  Oh darn it."

“Oh no! I totally let in another goal! Oh darn it.”

I don’t think there could have been any way that they could have cheated more blatantly.  Oh wait – apparently there is a way.  United Feeders won their game 79 – 0.  That’s almost a goal a minute!  And the score was only 7 – 0 at halftime, so in the second half they scored a goal every 40 seconds!!!  It comes as no surprise that both teams – and their opponents – are being investigated for cheating.  Although it is Nigeria so maybe it is a little surprising.

The only way that officials could have missed the fact that these teams were cheating would have been if they worked at St Joseph’s Hospital.  Next time they want to win, the teams should just have palm surgery on their success lines.

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