Inhuman Swill : Email
            

I wrote my own mailing list software for this website at least a decade ago, but I've grown a bit tired of trying to maintain it on my own. I'm switching over to MailChimp for all my email newsletter needs. The old mailing list is going to quietly expire. If you'd like to sign up for the new one, you can do so right here, or from the Mailing List link in the site menu:

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Cheeta! Cheeta!

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UPDATE! 11:44 a.m.  I was right to be suspicious of this story. Turns out that R.D. Rosen in the Washington Post debunked Cheeta's supposed longevity back in 2008. The news media has done an abominable job of fact-checking today. NPR itself acknowledged in a sidebar to a Cheeta story in 2009 that the chimp identity was not what it claimed to be. This clearly isn't as big a fuck-up as the reporting in the run-up to the Iraq War, but it's a difference of degree, not kind.
NPR News is reporting in its headlines this morning that (to paraphrase) Cheeta, the chimpanzee who played Tarzan's ape sidekick in the movies, has died at the age of 80. This makes it sound like Cheeta was the only chimp to play Cheeta, which he wasn't, and that his age was well-established, which it wasn't.

There were something like fifteen or sixteen different apes (including at least one orangutan and one human) who played Cheeta in the films and TV shows, often with more than one in the same production. And while the Cheeta who just died is alleged to have been born in 1931, this has never been established as fact, nor has the claim that this chimp was acquired from the estate of Johnny Weissmuller in 1957—nor, really, the claim that this chimp was one of the original actors from the Weissmuller-era movies.

Chimps in captivity have been known to live into their 60s, but 80? It's possible, of course, but the chain of custody on this chimp is based on hearsay. I don't believe it myself. But whether it's true of not, the story being reported in the NPR news blips leaves a lot to be desired, implies facts that aren't facts, and reports hearsay as straight fact.

I swear, it's like NPR based this news report on an email forward from my mother.

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Warmed by the flames

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It's been far too long since I had a nice flamewar. I think the last one, in fact, was about two years ago when a sister missionary I knew twenty-four years ago friended me on Facebook and then posted to my wall to say the F-word offended her and she knew I would stop using it and polluting her news feed with it. I didn't even have to respond. It was my wife and friends who did the dirty work for me. Nice to be able to get my hands a litle dirty again.

From: Random Person
To: Bill Shunn
Subject: Editing job

Mr. Shunn, I would like you to consider editing two 10,000 word stories of mine. I am attaching a sample to work on and resubmit to me so I can see the calibre of your work product - if you're interested in the job.

From: Bill Shunn
To: Random Person
Subject: Editing job

In other words, you want me to edit you for free? Fuck off. I'm deleting your email without looking at these files.

From: Random Person
To: Bill Shunn
Subject: Editing job

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Dear email forwarder—

Please don't mistake my opinion on the email as any condemnation of you or your character. But here's what I see as the danger of forwarding emails like that one: The information in them is only vaguely sourced, and the contents may not be accurate. The email has been forwarded a hundred times already, and may have been changed or added to along the way. The people who receive the email may just hit delete, but they may also read it and decide that it's true without doing any thinking or investigating of their own. I think that before you forward an email like that, you have a responsibility to investigate it for yourself and find out whether or not it's accurate. Otherwise you are spreading something that is no better than gossip, and potentially very damaging.

I did some investigation online and discovered that the account by Rick Mathes has been disputed by credible sources that were present at the event in Missouri where he claimed the discussion took place. You can read all about the doubt that has been cast on his account here:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/allah.asp

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Reflections on spam

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Can you imagine how difficult it would be to do anything with an anaconda in your pants?

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Fuck my mood

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I installed the latest version of Eudora a couple of weeks ago, and I immediately became curious as to why two or three chile-pepper icons were appearing next to some of the messages in my inbox.

Investigation revealed this to be a mood indicator, although I had no idea until a few days ago what that meant.

It seems that this new Eudora scans incoming and outgoing messages for offensive words and then rates the text according to how incendiary it is. If you try sending a message with a bad word in it, you get a warning like this:

Your message to "laura" regarding "Nice ass" is the sort of thing that might get your keyboard washed out with soap, if you get my drift. You might consider toning it down.

Send anyway? Cancel?
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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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