One reason why newspaper guys get cynical

Newspaper people, especially in the older days—before computers—had a reputation for being cynical.

You might think the explosion in information availability in our Internet age would have alleviated some of that cynicism.

Just the opposite.

I’d like to share with you some of the e-mails which came through my inbox between Feb. 10 and Feb. 17, from one Thursday to the next.

I’m not making any of this up and I’ll try to present them mostly without comment.

• A communication telling me “the rapture must be properly announced before it happens” and instructing me how to do so.

It must be authentic because it comes from “ The Rapture” itself, which has a yahoo e-mail address.

• An e-mail which is composed one-half of numerals and the other half of Chinese characters.

• Eight, yes, eight, requests to publish classified ads to solicit adoption of English bulldogs.

This is the first part of an Inter- net scam well known in the publishing business. It’s somewhat sophisticated. The scammers have actually managed to take out ads in respectable publications, using their very respectability as a “hook” to snare dog lovers with photos or descriptions of adorable puppies.

Just send them money and they’ll send you a dog. Guess what really happens?

Yep, no dog and lots of lost money.

I have gotten up to five of these in one day.

• An unsigned “article” titled “Who Send In Marriage?” which contains the sentence “The criterion of a can prevail otherwise very common in human relations.”

We like to think we can edit pretty well around here, but nobody is that good.

• A person who writes “I’m very happy to contact you through email. I have something very vital to disclose to you” and then never tells me what it is.

• An e-mail from someone named Nelson who says a “late client” of his, whose surname is the same as mine, had $16.7 million which belongs to me.

My surname is “Brown” which is one of the five most common names in the United States.

But Nelson, who says my surname is the same as his client’s, doesn’t know my name! In fact he addresses me as “Beloved.”

I’m staying away from Nelson.

• A n e- mail informing me the ACLU is attempting to stop Marines from praying because they are federal employees. It quotes one ACLU spokesman and one Marine spokesman.

Thirty seconds research on websites with which I am familiar and trust implicitly—I’ve spoken with the people who run one and they are good folks—show that not only has the ACLU never done anything of the sort, neither of the spokesmen quoted in the e-mail ever existed. • My favorite, and it just happened this mornng. A “well-respected author” says the government has been putting brain implants into the heads of persons who oppose the Patriot Act.

This technology began in 1874 but has improved since—I would hope so!—to where now the government can hear what you are thinking and can connect people’s brains using an interface.

The gentleman names the people who placed the device in his brain, all from Ohio, and he has subpoeneaed them as the result of a parking ticket he received.

Excuse me while I pound the table and laugh.

The x-rays are on his website. They are dated 1970. Yes, 41 years ago.

He says people call him crazy. Well, imagine that.

I wonder how crazy I will be in a few more years after getting the kind of e-mails I got during the past seven days.

No, on second thought, I don’t want to know at all.

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2011-02-24 digital edition

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