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Some Points to Ponder Before You Forward that
Chain Letter/Cautionary Email/Virus Alert

also check: http://www.breakthechain.org/

1. Big companies don't do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is not giving you $1,000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation. There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. MTV will not give you backstage passes if you forward something to the most people. You can relax; there is no need to pass it on "just in case it's true." Newsflash: just because someone said in a message "we checked it out and it's legit," does not actually make it true.

2. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. Or elsewhere. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend of a friend swears it happened to his cousin. If you are hell-bent on believing the kidney-theft ring stories, please see http://www.kidney.org/general/eleckid/myths.cfm. And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. None have." That's "none" as in "zero." Not even the cousin of your friend's friend. And I can't begin to tell you the medical problems with someone remaining alive in a tub of icewater after you've removed his or her kidney, not to mention the certainty of the recipient rejecting a randomly acquired kidney, which makes the whole exercise useless, anyway.

3. Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they did, we all have it. And if you don't, you can get a copy of it at http://www.busprod.com/davidbu/funny/cookies.htm. Then, if you make the recipe and decide the cookies are awesome, feel free to pass the recipe on as a simple recipe.

4. If the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) did contain plutonium that went to particulate over the Eastern seaboard, do you really think this information would reach the public via an AOL chain-letter?

5. There is no "Good Times" virus. In fact, you should never, ever, ever, forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first confirm it at an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with viruses. Try: http://sassman.net/virus/ or http://kumite.com/myths/ or http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/scares/ first.

6. If your CC: list is regularly longer than the actual content of your message, you're probably going to Hell.

7. If you're using Outlook, Outlook Express, or Netscape to write email, turn off the "HTML encoding." Those of us on Unix shells can't read it, and don't care enough to save the attachment and then view it with a web browser, since you're probably forwarding us a copy of the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe anyway.

8. If you still absolutely must forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 6 months. It sure wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the >s that begin each line. For the love of God, LEARN HOW TO COPY AND PASTE!!!!!

9. Craig Shergold (or Sherwood, or Sherman, etc.) in England is not dying of cancer or anything else. He did have brain cancer, but he got better. Really. And he would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards or greeting cards or balloons or wrapping paper or anything else. He is also no longer a "little boy" either. He was born in 1980. Do the math.

10. The "Make a Wish" foundation is a real organization doing fine work, but they have had to establish a special toll free hotline in response to the large number of Internet hoaxes using their good name and reputation. It is distracting them from the important work they do. If you want to know what they're really doing, just go to http://www.makeawish.org/.

11. Nothing bad will happen to me if I don't forward your email. Nothing bad will happen to you if you don't forward someone else's email. Nothing good will happen, either. God doesn't count your emails. However, if you keep sending them to me, then something bad will happen to you if I ever meet you in a dark alley.

12. Women really are suffering in Afghanistan, and PBS and NEA funding are still vulnerable to attack (although not at the present time) but forwarding an email won't help either cause in the least. If you want to help, contact your local legislative representative, or get in touch with Amnesty International or the Red Cross. Forwarding email is easy. Doing good in the world is, unfortunately, harder.

13. Sadly, children do, in fact, go missing every day. Federal law requires all reports of missing children be filed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. If you receive an e-mail about a missing child and want to check on its validity, go to http://www.ncmec.org/, select the "Search for Child Photos" option, and enter the child's name.

14. There is no Bill 602P in Congress proposing to allowing telephone companies to charge toll fees for Internet access. '602P' is not a valid name for a Congressional bill. Bills in the House of Representatives are prefaced with 'H.R.'. Bills in the Senate are prefaced with 'S.' Congressman Tony Schnell does not exist. Lawyer Richard Stepp does not exist. The law firm of 'Berger, Stepp and Gorman' does not exist. There is no Concorde Street in Vienna, Virginia.

15. There are no current proposals to allow per-minute charges for Internet access (although that specter raises its ugly head now and again). But when it does, it would be the FCC proposing it, not Congress. See http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Common_Carrier/Factsheets/nominute.html.

Places to check when you get the urge to hit that "forward" button:

  1. http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/
  2. http://www.urbanlegends.com/
  3. http://kumite.com/myths/
  4. http://www.snopes.com/
  5. http://sassman.net/virus/
  6. http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/scares/
  7. And, finally, here is a link to the real Darwin Awards:http://www.darwinawards.com/
    (How hard would that have been to find? They even have links to the Urban Legends that have grown up around their awards!)