Monday, July 9, 2007


It never ceases to amaze me that so many people will happily take part in perpetuating crap email. There may be a better term for it - not spam exactly, but in the family - but crap email works for me. I refer not to worn out lists of "you know you're getting older when..." or "today's high school graduates never owned an 8-track." (In the pre email days, these things went around by fax. In earlier times, I suppose they were copied longhand by monks, or incised on wax tablets.) These hackneyed jokes may be boring, or annoying, or even a diversion now and then. The crap I'm talking about are the emails that are to intended to deceive, either with an altered photo or some lengthy text that is utterly wrong.

The latest of these making the rounds is a list of supposed new traffic laws that went into effect on July 1. For example:

Carpool lane - 1st time $1068.50 starting 7/1/07 (The $271 posted on the highway is old). Don't do it again because 2nd time is going to be double. 3rd time triple, and 4th time license suspended

Wow, imagine that third offense, a $3200 fine! Seems crazy, no? Well, it is crazy, and the real deal is this:

The minimum suggested fine for a carpool lane violation (i.e., driving solo in a carpool lane) has increased from $271 to $380 (not $1068.50). There is no provision for automatically increasing the fine or suspending licenses for subsequent violations.

You can take this to the bank, and read the full item at the Urban Legends Reference Pages.

So why are people so eager to believe these made-up proclamations that litter our in boxes? What kind of rational human will blindly forward these emails without even attempting to check the facts?

By the way, I hear a new law just went into effect that whenever you receive one of these emails with the tracks of 17 forwards on it, you must filter it through before resending. Failure to do so could result in revocation of your internet user license.


Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you've posted ... is this the reason I'm your faithful recording secretary? As for the'crap' emails, I always check anything slightly suspcious on Snopes.

Scott said...

I would like to have read this column, but I was just rendered unconscious by some robbers in the Wal-Mart parking lot who were trying to sell me perfume. Be careful. It's NOT perfume you are's ETHER! This is happening everywhere. You have been warned.