Archive for May, 2004

Off the Record . . . well, sort of

By now everyone has heard about Dubya’s little mishap on the bicycle.  When asked to comment by reporters, presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry said “I hope he’s OK. I didn’t know the president rode a bike.”  (Frankly, neither did I.)  This comment was innocuous and entirely appropriate for media consumption.

What happened next is just silly.  Kerry, while off the record, made a comment suggesting that the president’s fall was a result of his training wheels falling off.  Now, no matter which way you lean politically, you have to admit that that’s an easy joke that simply couldn’t be passed up.  It’s a gimme; the kind of no-brainer, topical humor late night monologue writers have fantasies about.  Frankly, if I fell off of my bike, half the guys I know would make a similar comment.  And so would I if the situation were reversed.

The fact that I even am aware of Kerry’s “off the record” remark is bullshit.  You see, I only know because internet gossip hound Matt Drudge posted Kerry’s remarks to his website.  Perhaps Drudge needs a remedial course in attribution and journalistic ethics.

When something is “off the record” it is typically “provided to inform a decision or provide a confidential explanation, not for publication.”1 In other words, it’s not appropriate to even publish the comments, let alone attribute them to the speaker.  Drudge, of course, clouds this issue with the ridiculous claim that there was confusion over whether the remarks ought to be treated as on or off the record.  If we allow for a moment that this was the case, the following question arises: If you’re a journalist, and you have the option of publishing something which might have been off the record or not publishing it, wouldn’t you err on the side of caution based on your journalistic ethics?  Sure you would.  Unless, of course, you’re willing to sacrifice journalistic ethics to take a cheap shot at someone for political purposes.  Then, I guess it’s fair game, right?

I wouldn’t even care about this story — most major media outlets ignored it, as they should have — except now it’s entered the conservative echo chamber and there is an attempt to let it snowball into a substantive campaign issue.  The Washington Times reported on Drudge’s story, keeping it alive.2 A few days ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Mayor Richard Daley felt that “Kerry’s remark symbolized a hate-filled brand of politics.”3 Give me a break, Dick.

 

So, the story that shouldn’t even have been a story is getting some legs.  I hope Drudge is proud of himself.

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Sorry, Wrong Number

There are probably some folks who think it would be interesting to read someone else’s email.  I can tell you from experience that it is not.  Perhaps my perspective is a bit different; you see, I don’t really want to read the email I’m talking about.  I don’t really have a choice.

So imagine there’s some guy who doesn’t know his email address.  He thinks he knows it.  The problem is that the address he thinks is his is actually your address.  So, whenever this schmuck has to fill out a form online, register for some inane newsletter, or tell his mom where he can be reached, he tells them your address.

Honest mistake, right?

So, this happened to me.  For a while, I tried to be good-natured about things.  Each time I got an email for this guy, I kindly responded to the sender explaining that they’d reached the email equivalent of a wrong number and that they ought to check with whoever they’re trying to reach to verify the address. This garnered a few kind responses, but did little to stay the steady stream of misdirected email.

Part of the problem, I began to realize, is that there were multiple people making the same mistake.  Unless of course there’s one person who has very many nicknames, I can’t think of another explanation for that fact that the emails are variously addressed to “James,” “Jamie,” “Jeffrey,” “Christy,” and “Linda,” just to name a few.

Trying to contact the confused person / people has proven quite difficult.  The emails I receive rarely include any identifying information that would help me to track down the person to let them know.  It’s not as if I can simply email them . . .

So, I figured I’d share some of the more amusing bits with you, MonkeyBlog reader.  I thought we could all get a laugh out of it.  Furthermore, I’m sort of hoping that one or more of the people who keep making this mistake will stumble across this blog, see me making fun of them, and be shamed into action.

Some items I’ve received:

  • I once received something called a “Bunko” list from a nice woman named Diane.  She thought I was Christy and decided to send me the names, phone numbers, email, and home addresses of all of their friends on the “Bunko” list.  I was quite frustrated to see my email address under Christy’s name.  Diane kindly told me she would update the list.
  • Six months later, “Bunko” member Stephanie emailed me again about tennis.
  • In response to Stephanie’s mail, Sarah let me know her email address had changed.
  • I’ve received several issues of something called an AICPA newsletter.  I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to remove myself from the list.
  • One time a guy’s mother kept emailing me.  When I tried to tell her she was sending to the wrong address, she got all paranoid and started accusing me of intercepting her son’s email.
  • Peter and Jan once sent me the Redfish Lake Lodge Newsletter.  It’s in Idaho.
  • A guy named Robert sent me pictures of their Thanksgiving in 2003.  Turkey looked nice, Bob.
  • Some guy named James submitted his résumé to Marriott in December.  They’re keeping his résumé on file for a year.
  • A guy named Charles forwarded me his Amazon order status.  When I told him he sent it to me in error,  he responded “it concerns your xmas gift….BRO.”  I guess he thinks I’m his brother.  I asked him to stop emailing me.
  • A guy named Lee once emailed me (and several others) about an upcoming banquet that he seemed to think I was selling tickets for.  Here’s a quote:

    On March 1st, I will begin voiding outstanding tickets and reselling them. Yes, this will cause confusion the night of the banquet but somehow I think I will find satisfaction turning your guests away telling them the Fucker didn’t turn in the money or the tickets.

    Notice the capitalization of “fucker.”  That’s a nice touch, I think.  I responded to all recipients with the following:

    I’m the owner of the email address ‘XXX’ but I don’t think I’m the person you’re trying to reach.  Perhaps you should double check with the person you’re trying to contact to verify the address.Good luck with your banquet, though.  And to all you ‘fuckers’ who haven’t paid up, quit being such deadbeats and give Lee his money!

    I hope it all went well.

  • Someone with the username “PKGab” emailed me about tennis in February.  I can’t help but think this is still a “Bunko” problem.  Oddly enough, this email included another request for payment, this time for club fees or something.  It’s troubling to think that deadbeats are using my email address.
  • Bruce let me know his address was changing.  Thanks, Bruce.
  • Jeffrey’s transcript of his HP support chat session wasn’t very interesting.  He had a problem printing to his psc2210.  He needed a patch.  He also needs to practice his spelling, grammar, and capitalization.
  • Jamie applied to Sumner EMS, Tennessee.  Good Luck, Jamie!  I hope you provided a phone number.
  • Someone filled out a form for Norton Internet Security 2004 Trialware.  I can download it using the link they sent me.
  • This is classic:

    This is an e-mail message sent automatically by Microsoft Office Outlook’s Account Manager while testing the settings for your POP3 account.

    Yes, Outlook is working.  Your brain is not.

  • Lynn sent me an Evite to a Line Dance Party!  Woo hoo!
  • Just received this one.  Subject: “30 cal barrel.”  Message: “Old Fart here – can you give the particulars and price – thanks.”  I think this one speaks for itself.

More to come . . .

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