Tuesday, February 13, 2007

From the mailbag -- farmer jokes, little blue pills and phishing expeditions

This first item wasn't sent to me through the mail link with this blog; I got it through one of the Illinois State Bar Association listservs to which I subscribe.

Yes, it's rural humor. People forget that, in terms of area, Illinois is largely an agricultural state. You'd remember it pretty quick if you had to drive from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana, home of the University of Illinois.

And, yes, this is Southern humor as well. In Illinois, once you're south of I-80, you might as well be in the South... and that becomes more and more evident with each passing mile. I don't have a source for this piece; it was posted by a Downstate lawyer without attribution:
TO: Honorable Secretary of Agriculture
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

My friend, Ed Johnson, over in Hawkinsville, Georgia, received a check for $1,000 from the government for not raising hogs. So, since the covenants on the property I recently purchased restrict the raising of any farm animals for commercial purposes and specifically prohibits the raising of any hogs, I figured my place is the best farm in Georgia for not raising hogs on. Therefore I decided that I definitely want to go into the "not raising hogs" business next year.

What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to raise hogs on, and what is the best breed of hogs not to raise? I want to be sure that I approach this endeavor in keeping with all governmental policies. I would prefer not to raise razorbacks, but if that is not a good breed not to raise, then I will just as gladly not raise Yorkshires or Durocs.

As I see it, the hardest part of this program will be in keeping an accurate inventory of how many hogs I haven't raised.

My friend, Johnson, is very joyful about the future of the business. He has been raising hogs for twenty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was $422 in 1998, until this year when he got your check for $1000 for not raising hogs.

If I get $1000 for not raising 50 hogs, will I get $2000 for not raising 100 hogs? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4000 hogs not raised, which will mean about $80,000 the first year. Then I can afford an airplane.

Now another thing, these hogs I will not raise will not eat 100,000 bushels of corn. I understand that you also pay farmers for not raising corn and wheat. Will I qualify for payments for not raising wheat and corn not to feed the 4000 hogs I am not going to raise?

Also, I am considering the "not milking cows" business, so send me any information you have on that, too. By the way, I don't think I will plant any cotton, soybeans, or rice this year either, so if you have any applications for them please be so kind as to slip them into the envelope so I can look them over if it isn't too much trouble.

In view of these circumstances, you understand that I will be totally unemployed and plan to file for unemployment and food stamps. Be assured your party will have my vote in the coming election.

Patriotically Yours,


P.S. Would you please notify me when you plan to distribute more free cheese?
The mailbox here at Second Effort hasn't had anything that funny in it yet. I thought it amusing that "Liz Quintero" and "Rory Burnett" both wrote to tell me about the great prices for "soft tabs" of Viagra. It was certainly considerate of them to let me know about this, but I think these poor folks must have me confused with someone else.

More frightening were the messages I got from "service@paypal.com" telling me there's been some unauthorized use of my Paypal account. The email stated, "We recently noticed more [more?] attempts to log in to your PayPal account from a foreign IP address."

Forget about how many attempts have been made. There's foreigners involved. What should I do?

The email offered some helpful advice: I should click on the thoughtfully provided link and "verify" my account.

And there was a warning, too: "If you choose to ignore our request, you leave us no choise but to temporaly suspend your account."

Choise? Temporaly?

Hmmmmm, I thought. Those misspelled words might be a hint that this email was not entirely on the up and up. That and the fact that I do not have a Paypal account. I didn't click on the link. "eBay" was also very concerned about the unauthorized use of my account recently. I do have an eBay name... I can't remember it right now because I've not used it since I got it... but I have one. But it isn't linked to the email account to which the warning was sent.

And this week I had not one but two solicitations from the widows of slain Zimbabwean farmers who want me to help them get their money into America. I've never seen this scam use a Zimbabwean backdrop before. I begin to believe that, eventually, I will receive emails from "grieving widows" like these from every country in the entire world.

Could it be that someone is trying to obtain my personal financial information? Could my identity be at risk?

Actually, I've never been afraid of identity theft. First, who would want to steal a nom de blog? But even with my real identity, I'm not worried: Whoever takes it can't make much more of hash of it than I have.

But the sophistication of these schemes is improving: I received an email from "Bank of America" that was so convincing that, when I go into the bank later this week to pay my charge account, I'll give them the email. If it's for real, they can tell me in person; if not, they need to alert their corporate security.

In the meantime, if you'd like to submit something for the next Mailbag, or if you'd simply like to try and steal my identity along with everyone else, send me an email using the link in the Sidebar. Until then, I'll leave you with this one question:

I have a couple of Yahoo! Mail accounts. As I switch between them during the day, I often get this ad (at left) for Yahoo! Music.

The girl in the ad has headphones on and I assume her arms are raised and her eyes are closed to suggest that she is swaying in blissed out happiness to the music she legally downloaded from Yahoo! Music.

I'm sure that must have been the intention.

But I've looked at this picture a number of times a day now for sometime; it's just something that's there while I'm changing mail accounts. Look at it with me now:

Meaning no offense to the model personally, doesn't it look more like she's in a deodorant commercial than a music ad? I can almost see the thought balloon above her head: "Do I offend?"

Have you had this same thought, too?


Jean-Luc Picard said...

I've had all those sorts of mailings as well. The trouble is, we are prone not to believe the real ones when they actually come.

Shelby said...

Sam's letter is very funny. He might be related to me.

Anonymous said...

I have thoughts like this all the time....

Linda said...

I was watching The Today Show briefly at work this morning and they had some security expert also talking about phishing emails so your timing on this topic is impeccable!

I have always said that if someone wants to steal my identity that they are more than welcome to it as I'm sure that they would be returning it in no time flat. Just like if burglars were to break into my house, they'd probably feel so bad for me that they'd leave something rather than take it!

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

I've always liked the crazed logic of the subsidized farmer. Strange things come through the mail and through the forums, don't they?

Lawfrog said...

Yup, I've received tons of e-mails from African widowers trying to protect their millions. I've gotten phising e-mails by the thousands.

On the topic of identity theft...anyone who tried to steal my identity would be so disappointed. It's not worth the effort.

Anonymous said...

yeah. also..."her armpits are defintely airburshed!"


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

what about tobacco? lots of farmers are paid not to grow tobacco too. then the pigs that don't exist can smoke cigars that don't exist, see? and who are you calling a hillbilly?

smiles, bee

ps: no one sends me those emails, guess i'm too old to interest them, huh?

Jeni said...

THe scam things - I've received numerous ones of the varieties you mentioned but one really threw me for a loop! It claimed to be from the Internal Revenue Service and said I had a refund due to me - small amount - $60 something and change. No big fortune to be gained unlike most of the others. It was so official looking it was almost convincing! I turned the documentation I got on it over to the FBI's investigative unit set up strictly to check on internet fraud/scams etc.

Buffy said...

I'm sooo forwarding the Hog Letter to everyone in my address book.