On Taking Surveys

’Tis the Season

Now that we are coming up on another presidential election, my telephone is ringing with invitations to join “Town Halls,” whatever those are; and my inbox is full of invitations to participate in political surveys. In my old age, I have become skeptical to the nth degree. When people in front of supermarkets approach me with clipboards in hand, I wave them away.

To me, participating in a democracy means voting—but not necessarily submitting to a whole slew of ancillary events whose main thrust is to change my mind. Today, I received an e-mail that let me know right up front that I might be too quick to support Joe Biden. Thank you, Mr. Putin!

I know for a fact that the Orange King (no names, please!) is going to be in big trouble when he no longer has access to the power of the presidency. Strange things are happening: The U.S. Postal Service is being gutted to discourage mail-in ballots. That, despite the fact that the Donald himself has voted by mail in the past. Now it is too subject to fraud. Well, yes, everything is subject to fraud that that man touches.

Why do I feel that we have all taken democracy for granted? All one has to do is to elect a corrupt megalomaniac to office before the ground appears to disappear from under one’s feet.

 

 

This Morning’s Harvest

Go On, Believe It! Be Stupid!

Go On, Believe It! Be Stupid!

It appears that one of my e-mail addresses has made the Numero Uno suckerbait list. Here’s a selection of just some of the garbage offers that ended up in my mailbox:

  • Interest too high? Find the perfect card—from “Zero Interest Cards.” Yeah, well, did you ever hear of fees?
  • Uncover your ancestors and your family tree. Try it – 14 days no/cost. Give us your e-mail address so we can send you even more clickbait.
  • Most Wanted summer-slim-down – ready for delivery!  You, too, can experiment with your health by using expensive and untested meds.
  • Final Notice: Your gift card is about to expire.  Why would Chilis Bar & Grill, which I’ve never heard of, send me a gift card?
  • 10-second trick makes Diabetes go away. This is from Harvard Research Dept (whatever that is), so it must be true.
  • Do you want to Improvement your hearing in 1-7 days? No, but I’d love to Improvement your English!
  • Cover all of your Appliances with Choice Home Warranty. Whaddaya mean you won’t reimburse me $1,000 for my bum toaster?
  • You have been selected for inclusion. This is from Eddie Lopez, who sent the same e-mail twice, so he must want me real bad.
  • Fabulous and wonderful in your kitchen. Why thank you: I didn’t think you knew!
  • Avoid the Hassles of Home Repair. Get Your First Month Free! It’s those Choice Home Warranty (CHW) people again. In essence: Pay us and say goodbye to your money.
  • When you lose something finding it fast with this! What about that quarter that fell through a hole in my pocket in 1956?
  • (Wow!) Satellite photos make amazing discovery. That’s nice….

This is just a small selection of what parades through my mailbox every day, sometimes as many as several hundred in one twenty-four hour period.

 

R.I.P. E-Mail

Remember When E-Mail Was Really Great?

Remember When E-Mail Was Really Great?

When I return from Peru, I expect to find approximately 2,000 e-mails on each of three accounts that I have. Approximately 80% will be outright spam, and most of the rest are offers I will have no difficulty in mass deleting. How is it that such a fantastic communication medium has become so spoiled by hackers, hucksters, spammers, and others. When I scan my e-mail, I really am not really interested in enlarging my penis, ordering lookalikes of popular prescription drugs, or taking advantage of 20% sales (when I could save 100% by just deleting the offer).

Thanks to advances in viruses and malware, I find it safer by far to just delete—especially when the e-mail contains links or file attachments. Even some e-mails from my friends are suspicious: They could be used as bots for the distribution of virus payloads. The safest thing is to call the friend before following that link or loading that file.

Even when my inbox is filled with legitimate offers, merchants frequently feel that they need to hit you every day, usually with limited time offers that are invariably extended. Just because I ordered some printer toner from one vendor two years ago, I hear from them every day. Far from being appreciative of being reminded of their existence, I go out of my way to get my toner from other suppliers that don’t bug me to death.

Technology is always that way, it seems: For every three steps forward, there are two or three steps back. And it’s all because of human nature being what it is.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

Are We Reaching the Limits of E-Mail?

Every time a new technology comes into being, it gets vitiated by overuse as an advertising medium. I remember back to the early days of junk mail, when it was still a novelty, and I was more willing to consider it as having some value. That included those little voting guides put out by Citizens For … or Taxpayers Against ….The last Presidential election turned me into a person who wound up tossing most of his junk mail without so much as a glance. The same thing is now happening with all those mail order catalogs from various Indian Missions and yuppie techno-device vendors. It’s relatively rare for me now to salvage more tha n one tenth of what ends up choking my mailbox.

That goes double for e-mail. I have learned to distrust e-mail—even from friends—unless it shows some sign of knowing who I am. Several of my good friends have had their computers taken over by Malware that sends me e-mails that contain nothing but a URL. No thanks: That’s like inviting a vampire into your house.

Then, too, there are companies in my industry that think it’s a great idea to send me half a dozen e-mails a day. Unless they are announcing a new release of their software that has to be downloaded, it all goes into the Delete folder toute suite. I get invited to more webinars every day than any human being can reasonably be expected to take, so into the Biz Bag with them as well.

I suspect that smart phones will soon become the next garbage overload medium. Although my cell phone is a very dumb phone, it’s gotten to the point that I do not even try to answer it any more. I figure that if it’s important, people will leave a Voice Mail message—and those I eventually check.

Such a pity that the hucksters wind up killing all the new technologies.