Just a Thought - The Continuing Curse Of Crud-Mail
by- September 21st, 2005
I remember getting chain mail; snail mail that asked you to mail copies of it to your friends, sometimes asking you to send money back to the person who mailed you the original.
These were fairly benign wastes of postage and paper. Some were funny, some attempt to tug at your heart, but few promoted anything other than some innocuous intent by the originator of the letter.
Today we have the e-mail equivalent, and neither Macs or PCs are immune to it; I call it crud-mail, and some are just as benign as their snail mail counterparts, but the bad ones are (almost) as much of a problem for all Internet users as spyware is to the Windows platform.
My sister ( a PC user) used to send me some chain e-mails that were either overly cheery or had heavy religious overtones. I never read them as I already have to read more e-mail a day than a junk yard dog has fleas.
When she asked if I did read them, I told her the truth, but I didn't elaborate by telling her than I had set up a rule that dumps her mail into a 'pending' folder, which I quickly browse for any serious content, then dump. Eventually she stopped sending them. I'm guessing that, when I didn't send her similar notes, she got the hint and excluded me from her list of recipients.
We're still speaking.
I have friends (both Mac and PC users) who also send me chain e-mails, and they get the same treatment. I do glance at these notes from time to time, and what I see worries me.
One of the most recent notes discussed the horror and calamity associated with Hurricane Katrina. In it the author claimed that a similar situation occurred in 1927, and that the City of New Orleans was devastated, yet barely received any type of outside aid. This, he claimed, was a testament to the values of the locals at that time, because they didn't expect government help.
The e-mail took potshots at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for their insistence that people displaced by the hurricane not be called 'refugees', but instead be called 'survivors'. (Personally, I disagree with Mssrs. Jackson and Sharpton on this point, and I think their energies could be better spent elsewhere. Further, I feel that neither of them should considered the spokesmen for Black people, no more than G.W. Bush or Bill Clinton would be for White America. They certainly don't speak for me, but I digress.)
Here's an excerpt (exact text, including typos):
In 1927, a major unnamed hurricane struck the city of New Orleans. it was actually more powerful than Katrina. The scope of damage was much more severe because this particular hurricane actually hitthe city. Katrina missed it by 25 miles.
The interesting difference is the response the government gave in1927 to those hurricane refugees, compared to the refugees of Katrina, err- I meant "survivors" ---(sorry Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson). How much aid did the government dispense at that time? Zero, nada,not one dime. And you know how much aid the army offered? The only aid from the army came in the form of loaning the city of New Orleans tents and camp stoves. Ironically, later, the army sued the city for reimbursement. So what was the big difference here?
It was the attitude the people had towards the government at that time, compared to the attitude that Katrina's victims have. The 1927 "survivors" expected nothing from the government. 80 years ago, people understood that the government was there to "protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Today, Americans expect the government to "provide life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That's a major difference. And now, a week later, when the government failed on all three levels of local, state, and federal to provide for their needs, Americans were sorely disappointed.
There's another bit of crud-mail that's been going around for at least 3 years now, claiming that Target, the retail giant, refuses to support American troops by cutting off medical benefits to the families of employees called to duty to serve in Iraq, by refusing to give to veteran centric charitable organizations, and claiming that the company is French owned. ( I guess that means the employees are forced to say 'oui' instead of 'yes'.)
Here's a bit from that crud-mail:
Then I looked into the company further. They will not allow the Marines to collect for 'Toys for Tots' at any of their stores. And during the recent Iraq deployment, they would not allow families of employees who were called up for active duty to continue their insurance coverage while they were on military service. Then as I dig further, TARGET is a French-owned corporation.
One of my favorite chain letters, however, is the one that claims that Mars will swing so close the Earth this year that it will appear as big as the Moon during its closest pass.
The thing with each of these, and the many, many others like them, is that they all contain a nugget of truth mixed in with disinformation, misinformation, and outright lies, and it may be hard for some folk to separate what is real from what's not.
Further, those similar to the first 2 examples I cited are created to do one thing, spread fear and hate.
For instance; in the first example, the author claimed that an unnamed hurricane caused damage to New Orleans in 1927, even going so far as to say that it struck the city directly, as compared to Katrina, which came within 25 miles of the city. (As if 25 miles makes any difference to a hurricane several hundred miles across.)
According to many documents found easily on the Net, including an article in U.S. News, the problems in New Orleans in 1927 were not due to a hurricane, but rather an over abundance of water that, over the space of several days, broke through the levies, flooding areas around New Orleans.
As the waters threatened the city, a decision was made to relieve the pressure on the levies protecting the city by allowing the water to flood areas outside the city occupied by the poor. There's more to the story, but you get the idea; a nugget of truth in a nest of falsehoods. A reasonably intelligent person can continue to find holes in whatever poor argument the e-mail attempted to present, so I won't bore you with other details.
Similarly, the letter that attacks Target claims that the company refuses to support U.S. troops when the opposite is true. Further, the letter claims that Target is French owned; it is not, it is and always has been an American company. The truth in this story is that Target does not allow soliciting of any sort within its premises. So, the Marine Corp sponsored Toys for Tots cannot install a box for toy collection in Target. Again, a nugget of truth in a nest of lies. And again, there's more crud, but there's no use stepping through it.
On the lighter side; unless something extremely catastrophic happens in our Solar System, Mars will NEVER appear as large as the Moon to the naked eye. It just can't happen. If it does you won't have much time to sit and marvel at the sight; the Earth will be going through such climatic and seismic changes that you'll be more inclined to kiss your rump goodbye than peer, awe struck, at a Moon sized Mars.
The point is that these, and other chain letters serve no good purpose in the least, and at worse they incite fear, hate, uncertainty, expand ignorance, and make you look extremely foolish to all of your friends and relatives for passing on such tripe.
Of course, it is every American's right to be able to express him or herself, but that expression must not include lies masquerading as facts.
If you get these notes, trash them. If you must read them, at least spend a few minutes validating the claims listed in them. It took me no more than 2 minutes each to find the facts concerning each of the examples I listed. If you do the research I think you'll find, as I did, that the only benefit crud-mail has is that it may help you find a few facts about things you may not have learned otherwise.
I guess there's some good in everything.
is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.
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