January 11, 2002 (Ira Pilgrim)

Sucker Lists

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Stephen Butler Leacock

On impulse I sent some money to an organization that was doing something that I approved of. Before long I was inundated with solicitations from other organizations. I was now on a Liberal Sucker List. Apparently organizations exchange lists of people who might contribute to their cause. There are liberal sucker lists and conservative sucker lists and charity sucker lists and Christian sucker lists and Jewish sucker lists and Moslem sucker lists. There are sucker lists for religious people, sucker lists for skeptics, sucker lists for Atheists. I assume that there are sucker lists for just about anything that has ever been organized.

Commercial organizations do the same thing. I ordered a pair of shoes from a Dr. Leonard catalogue, which I returned because they didn't fit. Within a few weeks I received catalogues from companies that sold shoes.

But the crowning touch was with my internet experience. Up until then I had been pretty lucky. I buy shoes from E.R. Hamilton by e-mail. They state that their policy is not to give the names of their customers to anyone, and they don't. I have also purchased many books from Amazon.com with no problem. One day, on impulse, I bought a DVD from Amazon.com called Vintage Erotica. Since then my e-mail has been inundated with letters from pornography peddlers. I don't open them because they might set Cookies on my computer. I periodically go through the Cookie file and delete the ones that I don't want to be in it, which includes most of them.

I now delete most of my e-mail without opening it, but it seems to do no good. The garbage keeps coming. Just as my post office box is mostly filled with junk, my e-mail is now also filled with junk.

Several months ago we got satellite internet so that my wife could continue with her on-line teaching. Before that, I had been using my Mac with a cell phone and a local server (Mendocino Community Network, MCN). I had no problems except for the incredible slowness of the system which was due to the slowness of the telephone connection. I once wanted to download a program. It was to take 3 hours. Of course, the connection dropped after 2 hours. I tried the same thing with satellite and it took 3 minutes. Unfortunately, along with the satellite, I had to buy and learn to use a Windows PC. Along with the satellite and PC I also had to subscribe to MSN. Microsoft's monopoly does not only affect their competitors. It locks their customers in its chains.

With Microsoft's system I am inundated with commercials of all sorts as well as a raft of junk e-mail. My insides are screaming "Get your !@#$% hands out of my pockets!!!" Having said this I feel better and the anger-produced tightness in my chest has gone away.

I am very wary about buying anything on line and will not buy from a catalogue unless I can trust the company. Maybe if I do that they will go away; I hope. I am also considering a voodoo curse on the lot of them. I have a large hat pin and I will make the doll tomorrow. No, I have a better idea; when I make the doll I will put it in my vise and squeeze it just like those companies are now squeezing me.

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