Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Spam to Love!

You know, there is nothing like well-written spam. I have commented on this before, mostly in terms of disgust, since it seems to me that modern spammers just aren't trying. (See here, here, and here.) Today's mail brings a slightly better-than-the-norm come-on. Lacking in originality, I have to say--I was getting sob-stories like this via the US Postal Service 20, 25 years ago--it at least gives some indication that the spammer behind it--Mr. Fareed Usman, to you--put a little bit of effort into it.

For starters, he seems able to keep his story straight between his "from" line (Mr. Fareed Usman) and his "subject" line (From Mr. Fareed Usman)...unimaginative, yes, but consistent! As is his return address, too:
    As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday.
Wow! Already we have much in common, for I too believe that everyone will die someday! It's almost as if we were separated at birth!
    My name is MR. Fareed Usman a Crude Oil merchant in IRAN; I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts.
Well, that sucks: You no sooner make a new friend than you find out he has only about a few months to live, for his illness has defiled medical treatment. Which is the sort of thing that really torques off doctors, by the way, which may explain why they've only given him about a few months to live.

As he nears the end of life's highway, Mr. Usman seeks to atone for his past; evidently he was "always hostile to people and only focused on my business as that was the only thing I cared for." Now, however, he has
    willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as a few close friends
who must be pretty saintlike if they remained close friends even when he was "always hostile" to them. Or maybe they're not so close after all, since they don't seem to be very helpful to Mr. Usman as he strives to make amends:
    I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul so, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth.
Points for honesty. Hope God sees it that way, too. But I think God might want a few sharp words with Mr. Usman's family:
    So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in Austria, cameroun, Liberia, Algeria and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria and Pakistan; they refused and kept the money to themselves.
Those jerks! Now, not being rich myself I can't quite relate to all the problems that wealth must bring with it. But I have to wonder how tough it could possibly be to give it away. I mean, Mr. Usman seems well enough to have e-mailed me--maybe he's even e-mailed other cyber-friends; who know?--and can than be much more difficult than giving money away? He's already made these connections in Africa, Malaysia, and, um, Austria (?!)--why can't he just e-mail them and say, Not having much luck in Bulgaria and Pakistan, so I have some extra money for you? Well, as the man said, the rich are different than you and me.

It comes as no surprise that Mr. Usman no longer trusts his family, "as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them." And that, apparently, is where I come in:
    The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of Twenty Five million dollars $25, 000, 000, 00 that I have with a finance/Security Company abroad. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations. I have set aside 10% for you and for your time. If this is okay with you get back to me and I'll give you all the details you need to know.
Of course, now people in fact do know about the huge cash deposit, but so it goes. I'm a little confused about why Mr. Usman needs my help to "collect this deposit" when in fact it is his deposit, and he should simply be able to withdraw it, it seems to me. I don't know how Mr. Usman came to settle on me for this task--perhaps he reads this blog; perhaps my legendary devotion to honesty has reached his ears even in Iran--but however it came to be, two and a half million dollars seems fair recompense for my time. I mean, again, how tough can it be? You call Charity A and ask if they'd like a couple million dollars. They say yes. You call Charity B and ask the same question. You wouldn't even get through the whole alphabet at that rate. A day, maybe two, at most.

I only hope Mr. Usman lasts long enough. These diseases that defile medical treatment and leave you with only about a few months to live can be tricky bastards.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back Into the Echo Chamber

Today's edition of the local rag included a truly bizarre "editorial" from a member of the state legislature who also is an orthopedic surgeon and thus has no stake at all in the outcome of the current movement toward health-care reform...which of course is what his "editorial" was about. "Controlling health care won't yield greatness" it was titled. I don't know why. I suppose because his essay includes this head-scratcher of a sentence:
    "We cannot tax, deny, control, penalize and regulate our way to greatness in health care."
Which of course leads one to wonder who ever said anything about achieving "greatness in health care"? I thought the discussion was about access to health care, specifically providing health-care insurance options to those who are otherwise uninsured. You know--the poor, people like that.

Taking care of the least among us--that's where "greatness" will come from.

It bothers me a little that a medical doctor seems not to understand that. And it bothers me a little that a state legislator seems to have swallowed whole the canard that a public insurance program for the otherwise uninsured would somehow mysteriously lead to "denial" of health-care services.

But what really bothers me is that the learned doctor, in typical right-wing obstructionist fashion, presents not a single fact in his little essay. He lectures us, and tells us all of the bad things that will happen if we do something to take care of one another...but he doesn't tell us why, or how, or where he gets his information. So we have no way of judging his statements. We have no way of engaging in the sort of critical thinking and questioning that makes for true social discussion.

Because of course these guys aren't interested in true social discussion. They're interested in scaring people. They're interested in preserving the status quo.
    "The United States stands as a shining symbol to the rest of the world because of the different way we do things. Our health care should be no different."
Meaning what? In the name of doing things a "different way" we should continue to be the only industrialized country on the planet that doesn't think it's important to look after its citizens? All of them, regardless of the thickness of their wallet. (Again, I think he means health-care system, but why quibble.)

So I was motivated, against my better judgment, to post a little response in the Comments section of the local rag's online edition:
    Interestingly, Curd includes not a single source, not a single verifiable fact, not a single shred of evidence to back up his claims. Typical of that faction that believes that the greatest country in the world need not provide basic health care to its people. Typical of a party that has run out of its own ideas and thus can only throw nails on the road in a misguided effort to halt progress. Typical of the scare tactics employed by those who benefit from the status quo. Give us some FACTS, please, and not mere opinions presented as some sort of learned analysis.

    And P.S.: Why does the Argus Leader even publish stuff like this? Any decent editor would have bucked it back to Curd with a request to back up his assertions with some EVIDENCE.
Of course, that tends to assume that evidence exists. Which may well be the case. But it's hard to know, since the obstructionists never seem to trot any out.

By now you may be asking why I waste my time on this sort of stuff. Believe me, I've asked myself the same thing, and more than once. I might as well be talking to the wall. Not that I don't do plenty of that, too.