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Jewish World Review May 30, 2003 / 28 Iyar, 5763

Art Buchwald

Art Buchwald
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Consumer Reports

Spam the Greatest Generation | During World War II, the Greatest Generation ate a type of canned meat called Spam. Our troops were made to eat so much of it that the GIs vowed when the war was over they would never eat another can of Spam again. And as far as I know, they didn't.

Most veterans forgot about Spam until sometime in the early '90s, when a hacker named Eddie Nerd was fooling around with his computer and discovered he could send e-mails to people whether he knew them or not. He needed a sexy name so he called it Spam.

Soon after that, the direct-mail advertising people hired Eddie to come up with a method to send out thousands of junk e-mail messages. What made it beautiful is that the receiver of the Spam had no way of stopping it.

I got my first Spam message the day I bought my computer. When I turned it on, it said, "Art, Nancy has a very important message for you."

I didn't know any Nancy, but I meet a lot of people I don't know who call me by my first name.

I opened the message and it read, "Art, whatever mortgage rate you are paying now, I can do better. Just click here for more information. And have a nice day."

I was about to call Nancy when Tom, Dick and Mary sent me messages claiming they had the lowest mortgage rates.

In a week, I started to hear from everyone. I was offered an all-expense-paid trip to Florida to buy a house, 50 percent off for a package deal to Las Vegas, and a free sample of Viagra.

I couldn't wait to get home every night and find out what someone was offering me.

I made the mistake one evening of clicking on "New Club Members." Nothing serious there, I thought, but the next time I turned the computer on I was locked onto a pornography Web site. Apparently when I hit "New Club Members," I was immediately connected to porn. Porn is not my bag and does nothing for me. I tried to get it off my hard drive but it was impossible.

I talked to AOL, Yahoo and Google, but they said they couldn't help me. Once Spam gets into your computer, it has a memory all of its own.

Everyone has to receive junk mail and if you don't like it, tough luck.

The worst part about Spam is that all the politicians are now using it to send their messages to the voters. While political campaign messages are better than porn, who is to say that when your name is sold to someone running for office it can't also be sold to any other group?

Because I am busy, sometimes I don't read all my Spam.

Sometimes I'll hear from a publisher informing me that I have won a million dollars, but before I can collect I have to subscribe to one of its publications.

I guess the Spam that is the most intriguing is the kind that reads, "Find out all about your friends and relatives. We will tell you their secrets and things you never knew about them before." CLICK.

Even though I'm getting wise to queries on the screen reading, "Do you know the sender of this e-mail?" it's hard for me to say, particularly when Nancy says, "Hi Art."

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Art Buchwald's latest book is "We'll Laugh again." To commnt on his column click here.

05/28/03: The Democratic solution
05/09/03: Suits on television
04/30/03: Americo-Shaft Airlines
04/22/03: More time with the kids
04/03/03: Rebuilding Baghdad
03/25/03: The Five Saddam Husseins
03/04/03: Tax free defense
02/27/03: Yelling at the TV
02/20/03: The fight for duct tape
02/14/03: Losing your identity
02/05/03: Whose reality is it?
01/17/03: Foreign Affairs for Dummies
01/15/03: No-news stories
01/13/03: The last pill
01/08/03: Come fly with me
12/20/02: Snooping for America
12/13/02: Give 'til it hurts
12/06/02: Pre-nursery is rough
11/20/02: The Princess and the butler
11/15/02: Preaching democracy
11/04/02: The blame game
10/30/02: The threat of golf
10/11/02: The wives of Hidden Valley
10/04/02: Will the real Saddam stand up?
10/01/02: To shred or not to shred
09/20/02: Plea-bargaining crime
09/17/02: Jack and Jane
09/12/02: Signing books is half the fun
09/10/02: To lose one's center
09/05/02: Moot court
08/29/02: I spy-you-spy
08/27/02: No smoking --- I love you
08/23/02: Ashes to ashes
08/14/02: Wall Street good news
08/09/02: Things in my attic
08/01/02: Damage control
08/01/02: Another icon
07/30/02: Draft all the lawyers
07/25/02: House for rent
07/23/02: Doin' time
07/19/02: The loophole game
07/16/02: Money as a game
07/11/02: Just desserts
07/02/02: So you want to win?
06/19/02: Homeland security parking
06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

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