I’ve received a couple of odd emails recently. The first had a subject of “ERROR IN TEMPLATE”, which led me to think that a newbie had installed OpenInteract; since it wasn’t sent to the mailing list I figured this would be a fifteen-second read. How mistaken:
I PLAY SCRABLE GAME ON-LINE. THE OTHER NIGHT, THE GAME COMES UP, BUT NO BOARD OR LETTERS TO PLAY FROM. I HAVE TO QUIT BECAUSE I CANNOT PLAY. SOMETIMES ALL I GET IS A MESSAGE"aN ERROR OCCURED DURING EXECUTION OF TEMPLATE". WHAT DO I NEED TO DO, TO FIX THIS PROBLEM?
I'm racking my brain: I'm 99% certain I've never worked on an online Scrabble game. And if this is spam its purposes are quite fiendishly obscured, but since spammers have no subtlety it can't be spam. So, a friendly reply:
I'm not sure why you wrote this to me or what your problem is, but I wish you the best of luck in taking care of your problem. Chris
The second was actually the third or fourth I've received from this particular person, whom I actually think is real. (The attempted Scrabble player is probably real too, come to think of it.) Anyway, until now they've all been jokes or those Readers Digest-worthy stories. It's getting delivered to me because someone must have typed in an address wrong: it's addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org and of course all email (except for an address or two) sent to cwinters.com goes to me.
But the latest message is the one that broke the camel's back. It has a subject: "Fw: Important PETITION". The subdued freneticism implied by the odd capitalization should have been a clue, but I kept reading. Here's the heart of the PETITION [with snide comments from me], addressed to President Bush:
We, the people of America [and recipients of the email], are requesting that you lift the prohibition of prayer in schools. [Of course, any student, teacher or administrator can pray in school anytime she wants. To herself.] As the pledge of our great country states, we are to be "One nation, under God." [You know the pledge was written by a socialist, right? A socialist, a minority, who enjoyed the same freedom of expression that you in the majority take for granted.] Please allow the prayers and petitions of our children in schools without the threat of punishment. [Good thing everyone's children can already pray in school Oh, you mean you want everyone to say the same prayer? That's a little different, isn't it?] Currently adults and children in the schools are prohibited from mentioning God unless, of course, His name is uttered as part of a curse or profanity. [No kidding! So nobody's allowed to say "God bless you" after a sneeze? Or discuss their beliefs with other students or teachers? Or talk about the Bible, Koran, Talmud as historical documents?] Madeline Murray O'Hare is dead. Let her legacy of atheism in our schools die with her! [Sounds like the love for our fellow men and women goes so far.]
This one got an atypical smartass reply:
This message was addressed to: Pat <email@example.com> I'm not sure who you're trying to reach, but he/she isn't here. Best wishes for your future reign of cultural imperialism, Chris