Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bet People Will Be as Stupid in the New Year!

This little gem appeared yesterday in the letters section of the local rag:

    S.D. is a Christian state
    Carole V. Ryden • Sioux Falls • December 30, 2008
    I read that Gov. Mike Rounds lighted Menorah candles on the Capitol step during Hanukkah. The Menorah has been the symbol of the Jewish religion for 3,000 years. South Dakota is a Christian state - not a Jewish state. It is inappropriate for government officials to do this lighting ritual. To what purpose is Judaism being singled out? I suspect this ritual is designed to show that South Dakotans stand in support of the Jewish religion. Why? Don't South Dakotans stand for all those who choose to worship God in their own way? I do. However, I object to Gov. Rounds going along with a minority group which seeks to Judaize the rest of us, such as insisting that we now say "Happy Holidays" instead of Merry Christmas. This is especially repugnant to me in light of the fact that Jews reject the divinity of Christ. I don't. You won't find any symbols or rituals of Christianity on Jewish turf. Gov. Rounds has violated the separation of church and state and turned his back on the Christian traditions of South Dakota.

Ah, and here we go again...the majority of people who live in X are Christians, or profess to be (not, experience teaches, quite the same thing), therefore X is a "Christian" country/ state/county/neighborhood/fill in your favorite pointless geographic boundary.

Ms. Ryden is of course half-right: South Dakota is not a "Jewish state." I have the feeling that I could have every Jew in the state over for lunch and we would fit comfortably in my backyard. (Not at the moment, when the backyard is snow-covered and the temperature is a brisk 7 degrees, but you get my point.) But she is also half-wrong, for neither is South Dakota a "Christian state." It's a "state," that's all, and under the Constitution of the United States (remember that old thing? We haven't seen much of it these past eight years) that makes it a secular entity.

Side Point One: Don't tell me you've read the Constitution and don't find "separation of church and state" in there anywhere. The phrase is not there, but the concept is. Don't be disingenuous.

Side Point Two: Observe how Ms. Ryden on the one hand insists that South Dakota is a "Christian" state but then subsequently complains that the governor "has violated the separation of church and state" by his lighting of a menorah. Well, which is is? If this is a "Christian" state--and by extensions I suppose she must mean that every state that has a majority of self-proclaiming Christians as residents must perforce also be "Christian" states--then "separation of church and state" has no meaning, and it thus would be impossible for the governor, or anyone else, to violate it.

Although I am unsurprised that such bigoted ignorance exists (I live in South Dakota, mind, and encounter such staggering stupidity and shallowness nearly every day of the week) I am a little surprised that someone would be so colossally ignorant as to put such an opinion to paper. And then mail it, or e-mail it, to the local rag. But I suppose the Cloak of Righteousness means you can say any stupid, shallow, prejudiced thing you like and be confident that (A) Jesus agrees with you and (B) anyone who disagrees with you must by definition not be a "real Christian" since, after all (C), Jesus agrees with you.

Although it is folly to try to make sense out of such ignorant ranting, one can't help but wonder how the governor's lighting a menorah signifies an attempt to "Judaize the rest of us." Is it that my laying eyes on a menorah would somehow compel me to convert to Judaism? If so, our churches should fair be bursting at the seams, since you can't turn around without seeing a cross hanging from someone's neck, or an ichthys on the back end of a car. Why, if symbols are all it takes to "-ize" people, there should be no non-Christians anywhere, so ubiquitous is Christian, or "Christian," symbolism!

I especially love the second-to-last line (by which point I imagine Ms. Ryden figuratively foaming at the corners of her mouth, as her tirade makes less and less sense and sounds more and more strident): "You won't find any symbols or rituals of Christianity on Jewish turf." So, so true. Nor will you find much in the way of Jewish symbols or rituals on "Christian turf" (one does occasionally encounter a Star of David in the Christian context). But again, she seems to be confusing the steps of the South Dakota capitol building with "Christian turf," when it isn't. It is, by law, custom, and common sense, "secular turf." Indeed, one could--and some probably will--argue that, because it's secular, there should be no religious symbolism at all there, but I consider such arguments to be silly. Put up a Christmas tree in the rotunda, light a menorah on the steps, who cares?

Well, lots of people, obviously. Which causes me to wonder why?

I mean, is the faith of Ms. Ryden and her ilk (that whole "war on Christmas" bunch that O'Reilly keeps bleating about) really so fragile, so shallow, so meaningless that the idea of the existence of a different faith is threatening? Are their beliefs so shaky that hearing "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" undermines their Christmas convictions? Is their brand of "religion" really so second-rate that they can advance it only by burying someone else's? Are they and their God really that small?

Personally, I find it hard to imagine Jesus getting too worked up over the lighting of a menorah, on the steps of the South Dakota capitol or anywhere else. It seems pretty likely to me that he himself may have lighted one or two, back in the day. Likewise, I doubt that he thinks that someone slapping a fish symbol on the back of his or her car makes him or her a Christian.

I'm almost certain there's more to it than that.

Slow Day for News

This, in its entirety, is my "Today's Headlines & Columnists" from the Washington Post:



Wow. I never thought I'd see the day when there is no news to report! It's really something! By telling me that "none of the modules you selected have content today," the Post is telling me that nothing worth reporting happened in any of these categories (my "modules"):

    TODAY'S HIGHLIGHTS
    POLITICS
    BUSH ADMINISTRATION
    NATION
    WORLD

Well, of course, it stands to reason that TODAY'S HIGHLIGHTS would be blank, given that nothing happened today (or, I suppose, yesterday). But the others? Didn't the governor of Illinois appoint someone to Barack Obama's Senate seat, and the Democratic Party have fits? Isn't there some kind of hubbub associated with the Wall Street bailout (like, where's the money)? Isn't there a war or something in Israel? And certainly the Bush Administration has been up to something!

So I'm thinking "We are experiencing technical difficulties" would be more accurate than "none of the modules you selected have content today," yes?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What Passes for News

As Bob is my witless, here's a headline and lead from the Associated Press, as linked by Salon.com on its Wires page:


Wires 24/7

Politics

Obamas visit aquatic park, eat shave ice on outing

That whirring sound you hear is Edward R. Murrow spinning in his grave.

Friday, December 26, 2008

No Editorializing, Please!

I had occasion las night to look up the word apostate in the dictionary...more correctly, dictionary.com. It gave me the definition, all right (I always have to look it up to remember if I'm an apostate or merely a heretic), but it also gave the "sponsored link" circled below:


In case you can't read it, it says "View 1000s of Picture & Videos of Beautiful LDS Singles. Join Free! www.LDSPlanet.com."

Yes, that's right--you look up apostate and you get an ad for a singles service for Mormons!

I have no particular opinion on the subject. But if I were the advertiser, I think I'd be seeking a refund.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mysterious Ways, Indeed!

I am amused by the letters section of the current Newsweek magazine (the print edition, although it appears that the letters to which I refer, and more, are also online). It is much as I expected. The previous issue featured a cover story by Lisa Miller, "Our Mutual Joy," which attempts to explore what the Bible really has to say about homosexuality and, in particular, the prospect of gay marriage. I found the article interesting enough, though hardly profound. But I knew what was to follow, and I was not disappointed: Specifically, bunches of letters from readers both outraged and disappointed because Miller Got it Wrong.

Well, of course, you see it all the time. If someone's interpretation of the Bible matches my own, then he's right and righteous and walking in the light of the Lord. If not, well, he is at worst a devil and at best horribly, horribly misguided...because, after all, my interpretation is the correct one!

So, clearly, your reaching a different conclusion must evince an lamentable intellectual shortcoming on your part. So sad. Luckily, you have me to point out your incredible wrongness.

One sees a variation in group settings, too: If the actions of the council, board, Sanhedrin, whatever goes against my wishes, then obviously we're witnessing corruption, bamboozling, politicking, railroading, steamrollering, and worse. If the actions should happen to coincide with my wishes, though, well, then, it's because the Holy Spirit descended upon them and made sure everything turned out right.

Indeed, it's astonishing how often God agrees with me! I must really be something!

Friday, December 19, 2008

What Were They Saying?

A few quotations that have been cluttering up the landscape. As is typical, they are culled from A Word a Day, and are oftentimes at least as interesting as the word of the day itself:

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear. -Harry S. Truman, 33rd US president (1884-1972)

The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion. -Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer (1917-2008)

We have in fact, two kinds of morality, side by side: one which we preach, but do not practice, and another which we practice, but seldom preach. -Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970)

My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. -Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)

So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable. -Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)

God made everything out of nothing, but the nothingness shows through. -Paul Valery, poet and philosopher (1871-1945)

Truth never damages a cause that is just. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Like a lawyer, the human brain wants victory, not truth; and, like a lawyer, it is sometimes more admirable for skill than virtue. -Robert Wright, author and journalist (b. 1957)

How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young? -Paul Sweeney

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace. -Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. general and 34th president (1890-1969)

You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. -John Wooden, sports coach (b. 1910)

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. -Henry Ford, industrialist (1863-1947)

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. -Gladys Browyn Stern, writer (1890-1973)

They were so strong in their beliefs that there came a time when it hardly mattered what exactly those beliefs were; they all fused into a single stubbornness. -Louise Erdrich, author (b. 1954)

It's not the genius who is 100 years ahead of his time but average man who is 100 years behind it. -Robert Musil, novelist (1880-1942)

Um, Okay. Wait--What?

This was in one of the inboxes that I manage for my employer, a religious organization (so you see why I was duped into opening it. Not that I wouldn't have anyhow). The sender was listed as metaethics@jaros.sk, which I must say was a red flag. But still:
    From: "Tena Bertran"
    To: |||||||||||||||||||||||||
    Subject: Chriistmas night
    Date: Unknown date


    Girls will drop underwear foor you!
    More information HERE

    Be thou happy. If this brahmana be desirous of personified,
    and the other that i was afraid that may do to them by tossing
    them too much. 1569. Would not have people think that i
    was insensible late editor has done well to combine them.
    even.
Frankly, I have no idea where I might even begin to comment on this. Or how. Or, I guess, why...

Who'd'a Thunk It?

This from ChattahBox.com:

Al Franken Projected Senate Winner

December 19, 2008

US (ChattahBox) – Minnesota has awarded Al Franken with a number of votes on Thursday during deliberations for who will take the Senate seat, causing many to project his victory. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Franken will likely win the seat by a lead of 89 votes, making his the 59th Democrat currently standing with Congress.

The projected results came after the canvassing board began sifting through the ballots that had been contested by Republican Senator Norm Coleman, and according to the internal count, Franken is already ahead 2 votes, making his win seem more and more likely.

Further details are expected in the next few days, as the originally rejected absentee ballots are counted, after a ruling by the Supreme Court that stated absentee votes mean as much as those from within state, much to the disappointment to Coleman, who originally rejected the ballots.

The chickens have not quite hatched, of course, but still...who'd' thunk it?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanks for all the Info!

I just want to thank all of my e-mail correspondents for your helpful, informative, educational messages over the past year! I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery!

I no longer open a public bathroom door
without using a paper towel. Nor can I enjoy a lemon slice in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.

I can't use the remote in a hotel room
because I don't know what the last person was doing while flipping through the adult movie channels.

I can't sit down on the hotel bedspread
because I can only imagine what h as happened on it since it was last washed.

I have trouble shaking hands
with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose (although cell phone usage may be taking the number one spot).

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.

I can't touch any woman's purse
for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom.

I MUST SEND MY SPECIAL THANKS

to whoever sent me the one about poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge on every envelope that needs sealing.


ALSO,
I now have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings
because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all,
but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul
because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's Novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants
even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

THANKS TO YOU
I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

BECAUSE OF YOUR CONCERN
I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper
since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer use Saran Wrap
in the microwave because it causes cancer.

AND THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones
because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.


I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Target
since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone
because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus
since I now have their recipe.

THANKS TO YOU

I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

AND THANKS TO YOUR GREAT ADVICE

I can't ever pick up $5.00 dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

I can no longer drive my car
because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!

I can't do any gardening
because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by a brown recluse and my hand will fall off.
hu
If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...


[Sent to me by a cousin. There are several similar versions in circulation. I edited this one because it's the sort of thing I do.]

Opportunity Knocks! Again!

A couple of subject lines from this morning's inbox:


Subject:
blaming for LOW salary/wages? with our Dip1oma/Degree/MasteerMBA, You
Will get good offer xmdgwe p8



What the hell does that mean??


Then there's this:



Subject: I offer you an profitable place in our company...


Wow--an profitable place! Apparently in some country where they don't pronounce "p"--an profitable, an puppy, an poster-boy for sloppily written spam. And where they use a sort of "parallel English" for communication, as evinced by the message's content:


Good day,

Our surveys show that 81% of people of your city are not satisfied with
their weekly earnings and wish to make more.


That is why I would like to offer you an opportunity of part-time work.
To earn 532 AUD a week you have to spend 1-4 hours a week.

You need a phone preferably a mobile a computer and email.
If you are reading these lines, you need to start working.


The chance lasts till the end of the month; we have 78 vacancies in
your locality so far.

You will have to assist our clients. It is a simple working, which
requires attentiveness and chance.
we provide training and everything you need for the 78.
locality will be glad to assist you with any additional information.
To speed up our message , please send me an email to:JonesDaniel4nn@gmail.com


working

"Attentiveness and chance"...I must say, that part is intriguing!


But I have to wonder about JonesDaniel4nn's research, given that the very next message in my spam list has this to say:


Subject: 91% of people in your neighborhood, are not satisfied with their weekly
profits. You can upgrade it.


One wonders why I would be the least bit interested in "upgrading" the weekly profits of people in my neighborhood. I spend a fair amount of time avoiding them, truth be told. But anyway. I suppose it could be possible that 81% of the people in my fair city are not satisfied with the weekly earnings, and that 91% of the people in my neighborhood are unhappy with their weekly profits, so it may be comparing apples and pomegranates. Oh, but wait--here's the guts of the e-mail:


Hello, how are you

Our surveys show that 81% of people of your local are not satisfied with their monthly earnings and wish to make more.

That is why we would like to offer you an opportunity of part-time work. To earn 532
AU$ a week you have to spend 2-3 hours a week.

You need a phone preferably a mobile a computer and email.
If you are reading these lines, it means you have {_mac11_0} you need to start working.

The proposal lasts till the end of the month; we have 76 vacancies in your neighborhod so
far.
You will have to help our clients. It is a simple working, which requires attentiveness and proposal.
we provide training and everything you need for the 76. neighborhod will be happy to help you with any additional information.

To speed up our response , please send me an email to:5LiamWalkerz924@gmail.com


working


What th-- I think 5LiamWalkerz924 ripped this message off from JonesDaniel4nn!! Granted, it's a better offer (5LiamWalkerz924 is going to pay me 532 Australian dollars for 2-3 hours' work, while JonesDaniel4nn expects up to four hours' work for the same pay!), but I see that 5LiamWalkerz92 has only 76 vacancies in my "neighborhod," whatever that may be, compared to JonesDaniel4nn's 78 vacancies in my "locality," whatever that may be. (Actually, he says "we have 78 vacancies in your locality so far"(emphasis added), so I find myself wondering about turnover.)

It does occur to me that I could accept both offers, putting in 3 to 7 hours a week for AUD $1064. Currently the exchange rate is about 67¢ per US dollar, so that would be about $712.88, which is about $37,000 a year, which is way more than what I'm currently making for way more hours per week!

And, I mean, "attentiveness and chance" and "attentiveness and proposal"--this is hard to resist!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Calvin Trillin Muses on a Lame Duck

Far-flung Correspondent Jerry sent a link to the following bit of poetry by Calvin Trillin in The Nation, with a note that "The last two lines should appear on a plaque in the Bush Presidential Library":


Bush Labor Department Hurries to Change Toxic Substance Rules Before Obama Takes Office


Deadline Poet
By Calvin Trillin

This article appeared in the December 22, 2008 edition of The Nation.

December 2, 2008

For industry they're rushing through some rules
To ease restraints on using toxic goop
And dumping tops of mountains into streams.
In every hole, they seek a larger loop.

The ornithologists can tell us that
Such actions have a simple explanation:
A lame duck, though incapable of flight,
Is fully capable of defecation.


About Calvin Trillin
Calvin Trillin is The Nation's "deadline poet." He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1963 and has written the syndicated weekly column "Uncivil Liberties" since 1986. He has authored many, many books, including Tepper's Not Going Out and Deadline Poet: My Life as a Doggerelist. more...

Well, I'd've Done it Differently...

...but since I didn't do it at all, no complaints!

I posted a lament last week ("I See Now that this Will Never End") to the effect that, despite my best (past) efforts, certain well-meaning people keep perpetuating out rumors, hoaxes, and outright falsehoods with which other well-meaning people clutter their inboxes, and that I have grown tired (temporarily so, I imagine) of always being the one with the bucket of ice water. So I let the latest one go ("REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public next month. REMINDER.... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing Companies and you will start to receive sale calls") and hope that maybe someone else would be the spoilsport for once.

Someone stepped up to the plate, and a correcting message was in the inbox this ante meridiem. Here it is, in its entirety:


Well, that certainly hits the nail on the head. But I would have been inclined to be a little less, um, brusque. You know, sort of soften the blow a bit (the originator of the false message, after all, is a woman of A Certain Age, and obviously thinks she's being helpful). And I doubt that I would have hit the Reply All button, preferring to keep my corrective advice private and then leave it to the misguided party to notify his or her recipients. But that's me.

No denying this gets the job done, I guess.

But if I were still a betting man, I would put money on the expectation that the correspondent in question will, before the New Year is very far along, be sending out another "helpful" message to friends and acquaintances both hither and yon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Unfortunately, Some People Abide by This...

Now THIS Is More Like It!

I have in the past lamented the lack of creativity and attentiveness in the phishing e-mail that I've received of late, so you can imagine how pleased I was to come across this in my Yahoo Mail account today:


    IMPORTANT ALERT - FBI
    Sunday, December 14, 2008 3:08 PM
    From:"Federal Bureau of Investigation"
    To:undisclosed-recipients
    Anti-Terrorist And Monetory Crimes Division
    FBI Headquarters In Washington, D.C.
    Federal Bureau Of Investigation
    J. Edgar Hoover Building
    935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
    Website: www.fbi.gov
    Telephone Number : (206) 973-2572

    Attn: Beneficiary,


    This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly completed an Investigation with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network System that you legally won the sum of $800,000.00 USD from a Lottery Company outside the United States of America. During our investigation we discovered that your e-mail won the money from an Online Balloting System and we have authorized this winning to be paid to you via a Certified Cashier's Check.


    Normally, it will take up to 10 business days for an International Check to be cashed by your local bank. We have successfully notified this company on your behalf that funds are to be drawn from a registered bank within the United States Of America so as to enable you cash the check instantly without any delay, henceforth the stated amount of $800,000.00 USD has been deposited with Bank Of America.


    We have completed this investigation and you are hereby approved to receive the winning prize as we have verified the entire transaction to be Safe and 100% risk free, due to the fact that the funds have been deposited at Bank Of America you will be required to settle the following bills directly to the Lottery Agent in-charge of this transaction whom is located in Lagos, Nigeria. According to our discoveries, you were required to pay for the following -


    (1) Deposit Fee's ( Fee's paid by the company for the deposit into an American Bank which is - Bank Of America )
    (2) Cashier's Check Conversion Fee ( Fee for converting the Wire Transfer payment into a Certified Cashier's Check )
    (3) Shipping Fee's ( This is the charge for shipping the Cashier's Check to your home address and this fee includes Insurance )




    The total amount for everything is $1000 (One Thousand -US Dollars). We have tried our possible best to indicate that this $1000 should be deducted from your winning prize but we found out that the funds have already been deposited at Bank Of America and cannot be accessed by anyone apart from you the winner, therefore you will be required to pay the required fee's to the Agent in-charge of this transaction via Western Union Money Transfer Or Money Gram.


    In order to proceed with this transaction, you will be required to contact the agent in-charge ( Mr. Benson Edward) via e-mail. Kindly look below to find appropriate contact information:


    CONTACT AGENT NAME: MR. BENSON EDWARD
    E-MAIL ADDRESS: bensonedward097@gmail.com
    Telephone Number : +234-808-208-4580

    You will be required to e-mail him with the following information:

    FULL NAME:
    ADDRESS:
    CITY:
    STATE:
    ZIP CODE:
    DIRECT CONTACT NUMBER:


    You will also be required to request Western Union or Money Gram details on how to send the required $1000 in order to immediately ship your prize of $800,000.00 USD via Certified Cashier's Check drawn from Bank Of America, also include the following transaction code in order for him to immediately identify this transaction : EA2948-910.


    This letter will serve as proof that the Federal Bureau Of Investigation is authorizing you to pay the required $1000 ONLY to Mr. Benson Edward via information in which he shall send to you, if you do not receive your winning prize of $800,000.00 we shall be held responsible for the loss and this shall invite a penalty of $3,000 which will be made PAYABLE ONLY to you (The Winner).


    Mr. Bill Nicholson
    Special Agent.
    Washington DC FBI.
    Room, 7367
    J. Edgar Hoover Building
    935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20535-0001


    Please find below an authorized signature which has been signed by the FBI Director- Robert Mueller, also below is the FBI NSB (National Security Branch Seal)


    Authorized Signature

    NSB SEAL ABOVE

    NOTE: In order to ensure your check gets delivered to you ASAP, you are advised to immediately contact Mr. Benson Edward via contact information provided above and make the required payment of $1000 to information in which he shall provide to you


It would have been better had the images referred to in the e-mail (NSB seal, and so on) had actually appeared, and the English is a little sketchy (sketchier even than a bureaucrat's familiarity with the language), but at least the creators put a little bit of effort into their illicit endeavors, which I'm afraid is more than can be said about so much of what I receive in my spam folders these days. Good work, guys!

Sure hope my money arrives soon, though--you know, Christmas and everything!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I See Now that this Will Never End

For a brief time I thought I had made some headway, but as usual I was wrong. This showed up this morning in my office e-mail:



REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public next month.
REMINDER.... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing
Companies and you will start to receive sale calls.

... YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS

To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone:
888-382-1222.
It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your
Time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the
Cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a
Different phone number.

HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS... It takes about 20 Seconds.


The nice woman who sent this to me also, of course, sent it to a long list of other recipients. Thus perpetuating the falsehood. Innocently, sure, but nevertheless perpetuating a falsehood. (See "Celling Your Soul" at the Urban Legends Reference Pages.)

This is far from the first such alarm that this well-meaning correspondent has sent, but it's the first in quite awhile to come to me. Which is why I had lulled myself into thinking that I had, well, wised her up a little. For in the past when she's sent these little bits of blarney, I have--gently, in a spirit of helpfulness--instructed her that hotels cannot get your credit-card information from your room key card; you cannot unlock your car by pressing certain buttons on your cell phone; a certain soap company is not in league with the devil; an dnobody is going to start charging you for e-mail in order to subsidize the post office.

Since I hadn't heard from her in awhile, I thought I had gotten through. Now I suspect she just quit sending me things because she was tired of my being a spoilsport.

Anyhow, I am faced with the usual dilemma:

A. Do I try to be helpful and (once again) point out to this woman that not everything that someone forwards to her is to be believed, and in fact a great deal of it should be dismissed out of hand (i.e., do I be a spoilsport)?

B. Do I sigh, and shrug, and lament the gullibility of certain of my fellow travelers, and let her have the pleasure of thinking she is performing a public service by eternalizing these canards and hoaxes) i.e., do I be an enabler)?

I'm leaning toward B, if only because I'm
in the second week of a cold and very tired ...

Yeah, This Makes Me Want to Shop Your Sale


The salutation: "Hi null, Additional 30% off plus $1 shipping!*"

Geez. I'm touched.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Mr. Nice Guy? Who's He?

Here’s a little oddity that showed up in my Mac mail inbox this morning:


This is not the first time I have received misdirected e-mail from someone in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Evidently there is some high official in the LDS organization who shares my name, and there are other folks in the Mormon fold who have somehow turned up my mac.com address and have convinced themselves that I am he. Or he is I. Or however it goes. And without a second thought, apparently, or even a first thought, they sling their message to my mailbox and go skipping on about their own business.

I refer you now to my post of September 16, 2008, “No More Mr. Nice Guy!” In it, you may or may not recall, or care, I groused about receiving fairly frequent e-mail intended for a Mary Ann Reynolds (both she and her friends seem to have trouble rendering her e-mail address, the result being that a distressing amount of it ends up in my Yahoo inbox), and my failed attempts to get her and her friends to change their ways and adjust their address books. I found, over a period of a couple of years, that businesses were quick to reply to my correction, and to apologize—although that wasn’t the point: I was actually trying to be a nice guy (as the title implied)—but that none of the “real people” whom I helpfully responded to could be bothered to acknowledge my e-mail, let alone thank me for taking the time to point out that they had the wrong address. Finally I reached the point where I added these senders to my block list, and gave up on them. They can spend eternity wondering why Mary Ann never responds to their e-mail.


Well, I am at about that same point with the Mormons. Every time I have received a misdirected message intended for the “other” William Reynolds, I have promptly and pleasantly responded to it and encouraged the sender to make the necessary correction in order to ensure that his or her messages get to the proper party in a timely fashion. I have never had the courtesy of a reply for my trouble (again, not the point), and the misdirects just keep on coming (and that is the point!). In fairness, this is the first I’ve received from this particular sender...but far from the first I’ve received from his “stake.”


So I’m afraid I’ve reached the same conclusion with these guys as I did with Mary Ann and her pals, viz., no more Mr. Nice Guy. I’m inclined to agree with Thunderbird that this message is junk, and to let the senders and the intended recipient sort it all out on their end.


Maybe that’s the only way they’ll learn.


Maybe they’ll never learn.


That certainly seems to be the case so far.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Some Time in New York City

We spent the week of Thanksgiving in New York City, there to bask in the glow of the Sioux Falls Lincoln High School Patriot Marching Band's lead position in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a great week, with perfect weather (the one day it rained, we were scheduled to be at the Metropolitan Museum and on a bus tour anyhow, so it inconvenienced us not) and no mishaps worth mentioning.

I came home with 1,381 digital pictures. Many of them were duplicates--I like to shoot in burst mode on the theory that usually at least one of the two, three, five shots I squeeze off will be a keeper--so I pared that number down to 700 for the iPhoto album. And from that number I further whittled down to about 500 to share with family and friends. If you're interested, they start here: http://faculty.augie.edu/~reynolds/nyc/nyc.html.

Meanwhile, here's a small sampler:

The band approaches!


Three-fourths of the family at the Statue of Liberty (Will was off with the band, of course).


Ellis Island as seen from Liberty Island.

The Statue of Liberty in the morning sun.


Meredith waits for the parade to start.


Poinsettia-festooned trees on the lower level, Rockefeller Center.

Atop the Empire State Building.

Sunset at the World Financial Center.

Christmas Tree in the lobby of the World Financial Center.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Radio City Music Hall decorated for Christmas.

St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Near Rockefeller Center.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thinking Ahead!

A little while back, I started to fill out an entry for WinMoolah.com, yet another of these take-survey-win-prizes-though-probably-not sites. This is as far as I got, however:


Here's what brought me up short: In the Date of Birth portion of the registration, the options for Year included 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

That's right: They are signing up people who will be born in the future!


I'm all in favor of planning ahead, but no. I closed out at this point. But not before taking a snapshot of it for posterity.

Maybe "Accu" Refers to Something Else


This has been on the iMac for a couple of weeks now. It's a screen shot from AccuWeather.com, which indicated a temperature of 64 degrees. Not bad for November 3, in South Dakota...but not nearly as good as the 71 degrees indicated on the toolbar in the lower-right corner, which is provided by...um, well, AccuWeather.com. Whom do you trust? AccuWeather.com or AccuWeather.com? Or none of the above?

(At the moment, AccuWeather agrees with itself that it's 37 degrees.)

It Affects Everyone

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tempus Fugit

Unbelievably, it was five years ago this morning that my dad called to say that he couldn't wake Mom. We had had several ups and downs dating back to that summer, including one similar call a couple of weeks earlier, and so I was not unduly concerned as I woke the kids, who had the day off from school, to tell them what was up and dashed over to my folks'...there to be met by cops, paramedics, and the priest. "She's gone, Bill," my dad said, incredulously. And so she was. And so now is he.

Mom was just five weeks shy of her 72nd birthday, and a little more than three months short of my parents' 50th anniversary.

It seems sometimes that she died ages and ages ago, and it seems sometimes she died only yesterday. And sometimes I forget entirely that she's gone.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Exciting E-mail!

I love e-mail...what a constant thrill! You just never know what's going to pop up next. For instance, here's a screen shot of my office e-mail inbox (one of them, anyway) from this morning:

(Amusingly, one of the topics of (very brief) discussion in the Business Communications class I taught last semester had to do with "appropriate" e-mail addresses. I counseled against using a Hotmail address, which sounds a little lascivious, and we discussed whether even Yahoo sounded frivolous. In the end, there was considerable consensus that Gmail was probably the "safest"—viz., least unprofessional-sounding—of the freebie e-mail services. I wish I had known about Sandy G Newar, who e-mails me from tequila_19@hotmail.com to welcome me to "our team of professionals." A teaching moment lost.)

But anyhow, there's something intriguing about a woman with the e-mail address tequila_19, so I read on, and discovered a most interesting offer of Gainful Employment!

    Dear Mr\Mrs

    We are glad to invite you to our professional group, PES LLC and to offer you a job position according to your skills and experience. Your resume was found by our HR managers in the global network at jobseeking websites. You seem to be the one who suits our requirements and is able to make the job of our company better. We need cooperative, responsible, and efficient people whom others can trust and rely on.

Does anything say "welcome" any louder than "Dear Mr\Mrs"? It's so much warmer and fuzzier than "To Whom it May Concern."

And already I'm impressed by the prospect of joining the "team of professionals" at PES LLC, since their HR managers found my resume "in the global network at jobseeking websites" despite my never having posted my resume in the global network at jobseeking websites! That tells me they're a crackerjack team of professionals, all right, capable of using the tools of modern technology to find that which doesn't even exist!

    First of all, we would like to tell you some words about our business group PES LLC. It specializes in providing worldwide escrow service. For many years of being in the market our company has earned respect and trust among many international companies. The official representatives of the 20 countries like Canada, the USA, France, Italy Ukraine, Poland, etc. prefer to work with us, as we are able to provide high quality service valuing the time of our customers and using up-to date technologies and equipment.

    At the moment we collaborate with many giant companies rendering them the service of digital currency payment (eGold, MoneyBookes, eBullion). The number of our clients is increasing all over the world making us expand and employ more people for working in our team. Due to the dynamic development of the electronic money sphere and increasing demand in our service we suffer lack of efficient and professional personnel. Thanks to the new technologies we are able to offer our vacancies even to people who live far from our office but who have a desire to work bringing success to our company and providing decent good service to our customers.

Uh-oh. This is starting to concern me a little. They "suffer lack of efficient and professional personnel"? What happened to that crackerjack "team of professionals"? Where did they disappear to over the course of three paragraphs?

    Our corporate headquarters are located in Bellevue and Northgate. The number of physical persons and pretty large companies using our services in the USA is growing that is why we decided to employ staff on the regional bases. We are ready to provide you an interesting, well-paid job that can give you career opportunities not taking much of your time. If you are interested in our job offer and constant career growth, if you want to have a job where your efforts are awarded by the system of benefits and bonuses, you are welcome to our team!

"Physical persons"? They also have non-physical persons working there? As in ghosts? Cool! I'm in!

    Some necessary requirements to work in our company are the following:

    - Being and an intermediate computer user and some knowledge of using Internet.

    - Desire to be self-sufficient and financially independent

    - Free time availability

However, we don't require that you know how to spell or form a cogent sentence. Unless "being" means you have to be one of those "physical persons."

    More detailed information about the available vacancies and our company may be provided at your request at an early date. You will never feel alone in our team as our managers will be always glad to provide you with all the necessary information, instructions, and support. Feel free to ask us any questions answering this mail right now.

    Attention! PES LLC is a legal company with licence issued by the authorities and doesn't operate with fake transactions. We appreciate trust and opinion of our clients about our company and are ready to protect our service from any fraud and indecent activities.

Whew…what a relief to know that their license was issued "by the authorities" and that they don't "operate with fake transactions." But I would be interested in knowing more about these "indecent activities."

    If you are ready to earn with those who are proud of their job and be the part of the team, we are looking forward to hearing form you at e-mail: PESform@gmail.com

Not tequila_19@hotmail.com? And, again, I assume that "looking forward to hearing form you" means they're looking for "physical persons." Which is kind of discriminatory, isn't it?

    The amount of the position is restricted, so if you are an ambitious and willing to succeed person, let us know about it first!

    Best Regards,

    Sandy Newar,
    PES LLC.

"The amount of the position is restricted"…what does that mean? A small office? Or does the sentence taken as a whole—"The amount of the position is restricted, so if you are an ambitious and willing to succeed person, let us know about it first!"—mean, We're not going to pay much, so if you're "an ambitious and willing to succeed person," let us know first so we can direct you elsewhere"?

Anyhow, I might let this one pass, even though I think it would be keen to work with non-physical persons. There's just something about it that makes me wonder if it's really on the up-and-up…wait--I know what it is! Sandy spelled license wrong! She spelled it licence! I bet they're a bunch of goddamn limeys, ghosts and all! Screw that!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Abortion Rights on the Ballot, Again

This popped up in the New York Times a week or so ago (10/12/08), and I flagged it for later consideration. (One of the nice features of ShareThis, which I have been using a lot lately, is that I can save items to my Blogger draft folder for later consideration. It only saves the link, which is kind of a nuisance, but perhaps there's a setting that I haven't explored that allows me to save the whole item.) If you get a sense of deja vu, go with it:

Editorial
Abortion Rights on the Ballot, Again

Published: October 12, 2008
Once again this year, opponents of women’s reproductive rights have managed to get initiatives aimed at ending or limiting abortion rights on ballots — in South Dakota, Colorado and California. These measures, which violate women’s privacy and threaten their health, have implications far beyond those states. If voters approve them, they will become a weapon in the right-wing campaign to overturn Roe v Wade.

The South Dakota initiative is a near twin of the sweeping abortion ban handily rejected by South Dakota voters just two years ago. To make the ban seem less harsh, its backers have included language purporting to make exceptions for incest, rape or the life and health of the mother. But no one should be fooled. The exceptions were drafted to make it nearly impossible to get an abortion, even during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Ah yes. One loves how, on their "moral" crusade the great and good "Christians" who are so intent on shoving their point of view down everybody else's throats think nothing of lying to get their way (see "no one should be fooled," above), and have so little regard for the democratic process that the voters having decided a year ago to leave the decision up to families, and not the government, means nothing to them also. They will simply put a new picture on the yard signs, lie about what the measure actually means, and keep slugging.

But to what end? Locally, at least, it's near impossible to find any hard numbers, any way to pin the anti-choice crowd down on the salient question: Precisely how many "babies" will you save per annum by taking away families' right to choose their own medical options? One can hardly believe it is much of a number. I know, I know: If we save even one "baby," etc. I wish these people would devote half their energy to doing something about South Dakota's abysmal infant-mortality rate, one of the worst in the nation--a nation which has one of the worst infant-mortality rates in the industrialized world. I guess the real babies are on their own.

But as the Times rightly points out, part of the anti-choice crowd's lie is that they want to "save babies" here in the heartland. Balderdash. Since it stands to reason that South Dakota's abortion rate is pretty low (after all, we have only about 700,000 residents to begin with, and I know I have never had an abortion, nor ever will), one has to wonder why the big push here in the Mt. Rushmore State. And the answer:

The measure is clearly unconstitutional under existing Supreme Court rulings, and that’s just the point. The underlying agenda is to provide a vehicle for challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.

Ah, of course! The great "moral" folks behind the big lie wish to not only cram their anti-choice legislation down everybody's throat, they want also to thumb their snotty noses at the United States Supreme Court--for they have no regard for law, let alone democracy--in the hope of thereby imposing their will upon every family in the country.

Which sounds an awful lot like tyranny, not "morality."

But again, they care not. "Morality," "Christianity," "family values"--those are mere facades, cloaks which they don like KKK sheets in order to pass into whatever group they must pass in order to gain control over other people.

It's not about "babies." It's not about "morality," It's certainly not about God! It's about power. It's about them wanting to make sure that nobody does anything that they don't like.

And they're more than happy to purposely break the law--and then spend millions of taxpayers dollars to defend themselves--as part of their "moral" crusade.

Tyranny, yes. Also grand theft.

Several weeks ago I was driving a carload of soon-to-be high-school freshmen out to darkest suburbia. I had a copy of Newsweek in the car, to wile away the time whilst waiting for the aforementioned freshmen. One of them--who I happen to know is, like me, Catholic--commented on the photo of Barack Obama on the cover and inquired as to his fellows' opinions. A few noncommital words were uttered (how quickly we learn to avoid such discussions, but it is true that we live in a time--and, for me, a state--where putting the "wrong" sign in the yard cand and does end friendships and even employment), after which the originator of the "conversation" said that he likes Obama except that Obama "supports abortion" and "that just isn't cool."

It is not my habit to engage fourteen-year-olds in political discussions, and so I did nothing save utter a silent prayer of thanksgiving that he isn't old enough to vote.

But what I said to my son later (so I guess I do engage in political discussions with at least one fourteen-year-old) was twofold:

First, no one "supports" abortion. No one is "in favor of" abortion. No one thinks abortion is a "good idea." Not a single person. I believe, and am on record stating my belief, that abortion is a bad deal on many, many levels. But I believe that that is a reason to work to change the circumstances that put women and families in such a position that abortion is their only option--not strive to make a bad situation worse by making them criminals for pursing that course.

Second, to be pro-choice imposes nothing upon anybody else. I'm pro-choice: so what? It doesn't mean you have to do anything at all. It doesn't require you to get an abortion. It doesn't force anyone to do anything, ever.

But the so-called pro-life position...ah, that's something else again. It is in fact anti-choice, for it says that it is not enough for me to have my beliefs, but you have to believe that way too! And since I can't make you believe anything, well, I have to make sure that you act the way I want. It's not enough for me to say, I don't approve of X so I won't do it...I have to impose my will on you and make sure that you don't do X either, because I don't like it.

And, frankly, I think that "just isn't cool."

So. Back to the polls next month (what part of "no" do these people not understand). And, probably, again in two years.

Eternal vigilance, as they say.