Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Behold the Pyramids

March 2nd, 2011 · 5 Comments

Something went terribly awry this morning when Microkhan Jr. dismounted from a shoulder ride; my glasses snapped in half as his size eights kicked against my nose, and I now find myself staring through crooked, taped-together frames that make me feel as if I’m wandering through a funhouse. I have a late-morning appointment to get a fresh pair, plus (gulp) my first-ever pair of contacts, so I gotta be brief here. But let me direct you to a slab or reportage that very much demands your attention: Dan Morrison’s multi-part Slate series on “The Bernie Madoff of Sudan.” I had no idea that Darfur had been victimized by a epic Ponzi scheme, one that ended up bilking roughly 50,000 people out of their meager life savings. Morrison (occasionally known around these part as “our man in Dhaka”) got one victim to summarize the depressingly familiar particulars of the scheme:

The pyramid scheme began in early 2009 when Ismael, then a police officer who sold used cars on the side, opened an investment fund in Rahma Souk, or Mercy Market, not far from the state police headquarters in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state. The fund promised alarming returns. Investors would make in-kind payments of real estate or vehicles and receive, four to six weeks later, a check with a value of 150 percent of their initial investment.

To riff off of H.L. Mencken, no one ever went broke by underestimating a public’s zeal to get rich quick. The Albanians can certainly confirm that bit of folk wisdom.


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5 Comments so far ↓

  • scottstev

    PJ O’Rourke covered the aftermath of the Albanian crash and subsequent Nato peace-keeping efforts. There will always be ponzi schemes, sadly. The human capacity to put up blinders when a solution appears in the distance is just too strong.

    Stick with the contacts. I avoided them for 30-plus years. But once I got past the initial break-in period, they were comfortable (up to 8-10 hours). They are immense help in sports, and dispelled my belief that it was only my specs that kept me from being irresistible to women.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @scottstev: Very true, re: the fact that we will, indeed, get fooled again. We all know that it’s best to avoid deals that sound too good to be true. But that’s easier said than done.

    What sort of contacts do you use? I’m definitely gonna take the plunge on ’em–I look like a total dweeb in glasses, but I find I’m needing ’em more and more these days (esp. when looking after Microkhan Jr.). And, as you note, I desperately need ’em for sports.

  • Captured Shadow

    I tried contacts for about a year, but they couldn’t at that time anyway, correct for astigmatism so I ended up with headaches and went back to glasses. Now I buy them online -$35 or so gets me a good pair. I like to support local business, but not at 10X the cost.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Captured Shadow: Thanks for the advice. I’m getting fitted for contacts on Friday–dreading the breaking-in period, but I reckon I’ll get used to the routine after a while. $35/pair sounds doable–what site do you use?

  • Captured Shadow

    I have had good luck with
    http://www.zennioptical.com big selection, cheap, and never shipped me the wrong stuff.
    But their reputation is not as good as some others.
    http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/ has some other options and reviews. Just be sure to get your prescription to include the PD (distance between pupils). When regular glasses are as cheap as sunglasses, you can afford to try out some wild styles if you want.