We get a lot of letters here at the paper. A lot of the authors have a complaint about the city, the state, the country, their friends, their loved ones, or pretty much anything President Obama does or does not say.
This is how its supposed to be; we're a newspaper, we print letters to the editor, and usually what gets people to actually sit down and write a letter is dissatisfaction.
But it doesn't end there. We get poems, we get suggestions, we get news releases, and around any election we start to get suspiciously well-worded letters from citizens that read very similar to other letters sent to surrounding newspapers.
Sometimes we get free gifts; companies will just send us samples of a new product blindly with the hope that we'll write about their FANTASTIC NEW PRODUCT! As it stands I am the winner of the "office free stuff" category with a bottle of whiskey.
What kind of whiskey? The free kind, also known as the best kind.
But if you add up all the letters, the news releases, the poems, the free stuff and even the poorly worded hate mail it is but a drop in the bucket compared to the spam.
Oh, woe unto the makers of the spam!
I'm certain every one of you reading this has suffered through a multitude of the unwanted emails clogging your account, spent hours tagging and deleting message after message from such close, personal friends as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I can sympathize I assure you, you have no idea just how bad spam can get.
Examples? Sure, just email you your bank account info and I can wire you some examples in a few days! Free money! You wold be interested!!!!
First on the list has to be Chinese spam.
You've got to give these guys credit. They know they are bulk emailing what appears to be the majority of American businesses and yet refuse, simply REFUSE, to actually write the emails in English.
Opening one now, sent from a name that appears in English simply as a collection of black rectangles, I can deduce that this company must sell either haircuts or robots. All I?can see is a grey robot with well cut hair, followed by an acre of undecipherable text, followed by a telephone number so long that dialing it would invariably launch a tactical nuclear strike. Does the robot cut the hair? Am I supposed to cut the robot's hair? And what of the bald robots? Lamentably, I may well never know.
The Chinese spammers that write in Mandarin or Cantonese have guts, but the best humor/horror comes from Chinese spammers that have decided to brave the linguistic minefield that is the English language.
Case in point: "HI! This is phoebe from Wondermelt! getting a high reputation and hot market in europe and north america,and other countries."
Is their English much better than my Chinese? Absolutely. Is it funny that the name of a welding company is Wondermelt? Indubitably! And is it terrifying that such a mildly humorous piece of spam was sent to me from the address email@example.com? You know it!
Hatered is your name? Even when it's misspelled it's still jarring.
Then we come to the worst of the lot, the con artist spammers.
A few centuries ago these guys and gals would have been relegated to wandering through the countryside with a cart, selling snakeoil or "tinctures and tonics" to anyone they could outrun. But thanks to the sisyphian march of time we now live in an era where an entrepreneurial criminal can find my email address, pull a card from his/her "spam-o-dex," and drop me a quick line about how the FBI intercepted a package addressed to me as it crossed the border and the package is being held in Arizona and if I?just send the FBI a couple of bucks they'll send it along to me right away.
I got that email around midnight one night. You know who picks up the phone at your local FBI office after midnight? I don't, because it was just a voice (who picked up after one ring, by the way) that said "FBI." Then, silence. Once I remembered I? hadn't actually done anything wrong I?told them about the email.
"Oh yeah," said Still Frightening FBI Guy, "that's spam. Just go on our website and report it."
Thanks, FBI Guy.
Fine, you droning and judgmental hypothetical, how about fax spam?
Yeah buddy! Spam has gone "throwback" with fax spam!
Fax spam is different then the digital spam of today. Sure, we get fax spammed ads for office supplies and con-jobs about mortgages and whatnot; but the real joy of fax spam comes from the Rabbi.
Yes, Rabbi Kalman Packouz; scholar, speaker and author of "Shabbat Shalom: The Fax of Life!"
Why we are the recipients of a Jewish newsletter which covers topics from "Preparing for Rosh Hashanah" to "How to Break Up Like a Mensch?" I?have no idea. But it is the highlight of the fax machine for me.
I wish more of our spammers were less focused on conning me out of money and more focused on helping me pick out the right bat mitzvah gift. Because if you're going to get some spam, it should probably be from a rabbi.
Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.