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, 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.
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

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.
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:

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


"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
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


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:

    Sunday, December 14, 2008 3:08 PM
    From:"Federal Bureau of Investigation"
    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
    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:

    Telephone Number : +234-808-208-4580

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


    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


    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!