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So much for their libertarian tendencies...

I enjoy receiving e-mail. I get quite a bit from readers, with suggestions for stories or links to their own blogs, and I read them all. I don't answer as many as I should, if truth be told, and don't use as many as I probably ought to, but I do read them all.

That being said, I have one condition that I set. It might seem a bit egotistical or demanding, but it's one I stand by. I want the sender to give the e-mail as much attention as I give it. That means that I prefer individual e-mails over simply being part of a list. And most of all I don't like being signed up for any lists without my knowledge or consent, where folks simply "shotgun" their thoughts (such as they are) across the 'net, hoping that if they send enough out, they might actually get one or two good results.

It's a form of spamming. It's seductive in its appeal, because once the list is set up, there's no more cost or effort in sending out 10,000 e-mails as there is one. All the efforts are shifted on to the recipients -- who, in most cases, never consented to picking up the burden.

I've ripped quite a few people who decided a while ago that I could not simply live another day without being sent a link to their blog, usually accompanied by some cryptic, pseudo-enticing teaser. (Yes, you know I'm talking about you. Thanks for shifting your efforts from me to the Carnival of Trackbacks. And I mean you, too, Mr. Johnny One-Note. Thank you for no longer sending me you "discoveries" linking Nazism to certain aspects of American culture. And you, my one-time phone buddy, for not making me cost you a THIRD ISP account for refusing to stop spamming me.)

The worst, I think, has to be the organizations. I've written quite a bit about illegal aliens, so I can kind of see why the Center for Immigration Studies would think I might be interested in their work. But it would have been nice if they'd asked first. Or, after the first time I called them and read them the riot act, they would have taken me off their list. It might have avoided my second very heated call.

I still don't understand why Shaw-Media of Canada sends me notices about their directories. I'm glad they are THE source for information on how to get grants from the Canadian government, but several of their representatives could not tell me about a single one that I qualified for. Nevertheless, it's critically important that they send me word on how to get their books -- for a very reasonable $59.95. I'm sure that their information is as thoroughly researched as their mailing lists, and worth every penny.

But every now and then I get surprised by who spams me.

I've never read anything by Ayn Rand, but the general impression I have is that her philosophy has a strong element of libertarianism to it. I've always found that appealing, especially the live-and-let-live aspect.

Which is why I was so surprised -- and a bit disappointed -- to get an e-mail last week from the Ayn Rand Institute with the complete text of an op-ed piece by David Holcberg and Alex Epstein, entitled "The Anti-Life Opposition to Embryonic Stem Cell Research."

The gist of it was... well, dull. Almost 800 words of schlock, hyperbole, scare quotes, and other forms of drivel.

In fact, the most interesting part of it had to have been the notice at the end:

ARI's media releases are solicitations sent to addresses obtained from commercially available databases and from Web sites that have an apparent interest in publication material.

You are subscribed as [email protected] If you prefer not to receive future releases, visit our Web site to change your email preferences.

(Address omitted for no real reason)

Ain't that sweet. They like me so much, they're gonna force-feed me their crap until I play nice, jump through their hoops, and beg politely to be left alone.

I don't play those games. And since they were kind enough to include their contact information (David Holcberg -- Media Department, Ayn Rand Institute, Phone: (949) 222-6550 ext. 226 E-mail: [email protected]), I believe I'll give Mr. Holcberg a call come Monday and waste as much of his time as his institute has wasted of mine.

And maybe they'll see the libertarian side of simply leaving folks alone who haven't asked to have their mailboxes filled with his crap.


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Comments (17)

Bah, he's probably off on M... (Below threshold)

Bah, he's probably off on Monday.

Maybe he's off, but JT can ... (Below threshold)

Maybe he's off, but JT can get practice memorizing the automated phone tree...

But wouldn't that just be t... (Below threshold)

But wouldn't that just be the Ayn Rand Institute wasting more of JT's time?

Yeah, but this time it's en... (Below threshold)
Dan S:

Yeah, but this time it's entirely his choice to waste his own time! :p

Hah. You get CIS spam too? ... (Below threshold)

Hah. You get CIS spam too? I put up a filter for them - they go straight to the deleted folder. As do a couple of other anti-immigration groups whose mailing lists I got on without my consent.
And I only recall once writing anything on immigration - and it wasn't particularly anti.

Gosh, all this time I thoug... (Below threshold)

Gosh, all this time I thought you liked all my e-mails discovering Nazism in certain aspects of American culture! Is my face red!

I'm a little curious about ... (Below threshold)

I'm a little curious about a couple of things. Are you the owner of this blog? I ask because the tone with which you write this essay is rather officious. It seems mean-spirited, as well. What interests me most, however, is your unashamed admission that you've not read Ayn Rand. The Bible is the number one read book. Atlas Shrugged is number two. It should be required reading for everyone, though with its ranking as number two, plenty have read this masterpiece. I just find it revealing that you would be so utterly petty about some business emails, and yet so utterly clueless about Ayn Rand - to the point you actually admit it and do not realize that you come off as quite the Philistine. Or moron, if you will.

What a curse it must be to ... (Below threshold)

What a curse it must be to be so important that people hound you so. How ever do you survive?

Elan, a simple question: is... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Elan, a simple question: is signing someone up for a mailing list without their knowledge or consent, and refusing to stop unless the recipient follows your rules precisely and politely asks you to do so in your carefully-outlined procedure, consistent or inconsistent with Rand's philosophies regarding individual rights?

If the answer is no, then they are hypocrites.

If the answer is yes, then they're assholes.

Either way, they have not done anything towards converting me towards their beliefs.

Further, I have never written a single piece on stem-cell research, and can only think of a single time I might have mentioned it in passing. Had they asked me if I'd be interested in their thoughts on the matter, or any matter, I would have no grounds to complain. But their presumption is that my e-mail box is theirs to fill with their schlock unless I go to their web site and "unsubscribe" is, to me, morally reprehensible.

A long time ago, it was said that no one should ever have to expend any effort to get off of a list that they never asked to be put on. It's why "negative option" marketing is illegal -- it puts the burden on an unwilling and unwitting party. You can't send someone a letter saying that unless they write back and decline, you're going to send them a widget every month, and they are responsible for paying for it.

That's what they are doing. The only difference is that there's no postage involved -- the only cost is in my time to get them to leave me alone, and that should never come at any price.

If you disagree, Elan, I may have to sign you up for the Punch In The Nose Club. Members of this very exclusive organization are, once a week, visited by a large, burly man who will punch you in the nose. If you choose to decline your free membership, please write to [email protected] and put the word "UNSUBSCRIBEMENOWPRETTYPLEASEWITHSUGARONTOP."Please allow 6-8 weeks for your request to be processed. If you do not follow these instructions precisely, you will be presumed to be a satisfied member of the club, and your benefits will continue indefinitely.


"Ayn Rand, but the general ... (Below threshold)

"Ayn Rand, but the general impression I have is that her philosophy has a strong element of libertarianism to it."

Jay, I thought you were an American. Didn’t do understatement like us Brits. Objectivism, Rand’s philosophy, is that part of libertarianism too extreme to actually be discussed politely in public. Your comment is a bit like saying that you believe that Kos is a touch liberal.

But then if you were in fact displaying your new found Britishness for the New Year I must say you’ve caught on to this understated manner rather well.

Signing people up for maili... (Below threshold)

Signing people up for mailing lists without their permission is but one way some "tolerant, loving" Leftists like to harrass those who dare to think differently than them. After somehow ending up on an e-mail thread with some rather vile Leftists, I, being the person I am, upset their apple carts by inserting a little sanity in the midst of their demented rants. Not one to back down in the face of their vulgarity, threats and insults, I always responded with logic and manners, which seemed to irritate them. I have since been put on mailing lists from various organizations, most of which deal with penile enhancement or performance enhancement, and weight loss programs. How do I know it is they who submitted my e-mail addy for these mailing lists? Because the issues those organizations allegedly cure/treat/enhance are the very same issues they bring up in their infantile insults and threats and I had not received anything similar prior to ending up in that vile e-mail group.

It could just be that you're on the receiving end of some Leftist Love, Jay Tea!

Yeah, Tish, it must be thos... (Below threshold)

Yeah, Tish, it must be those awful Leftists. They're responsible for all of the spam in the world. It was the Ayn Rand Institute, for Christ's sake. Not exactly a bastion of leftist thought.

Jesus, what a one-note. I'm sure there's plenty you can find to disagree with "leftists" about. These knee-jerk responses get rather tiring.

It's amusing how many of these posts I read that detail how the writer was a bastion of civility, while the foaming at the mouth leftists could only engage in name-calling. I guess all of those loony right wing commenters I see at Ace of Spades and Little Green Footballs (and occasionally here) must not really exist.

J.Thank you for th... (Below threshold)


Thank you for the abbreviation of your moniker. I tried ‘Jay Tea’ but it felt as if I was talking to a black rapper. ‘Mr. Tea’ only made it worse with an image of big, bold, black, and bling.

Thank you for your lengthy though evasive response. No need to threaten me with the Nose-Punch Club as I do not disagree with anything you said. Besides, I always give better than I get, and your NP Club thug might not enjoy his very brief encounter with me.

I was not that interested in your diatribe as I was about your rude tone combined with your embarrassing words about Ayn Rand, etc. But since you spent so much time talking about unsolicited mail, I will address your words with a parallel and comparison. Wizbang, of which I trust you are the owner as you chose not to answer my query about that, and who else but a blog owner would tell guests ‘fuck you!’ when they have the temerity to disagree with you. I did notice you wait until other commenters turn before bringing down the ‘fuck-you hammer’..... but so what. You own the blog, and the blog IS big. Good for you for making it that way. As a big dog, you naturally draw the smaller dogs in the hopes you will notice them and help them. That is a very nice aspect of the blogosphere, I’ve noticed. Now, I am a big dog in another realm. I am financially independent, and my FICO score is at the top. Because of that, I receive immense amounts of mail from banks and other institutions wanting my attention. Unlike you, I read none of it. I throw it away. Unlike you, I am not bothered by it. I figure all those unsolicited bits of mail keep stamp prices down and the U.S. Post Office on its feet. Big deal. Power has a way of drawing crowds. Here is where we differ: I cannot be bothered to call these organizations up and ‘read them the riot act’ as you do. I have better things to do, plus, I don’t care. You could just as easily delete the whole load and go on writing about your bald head and strange facial hair. I suspect dumping the email would keep you more sanguine and less apt to insult your guests. Again, so what - it’s your throne, abuse your minions as you wish.

I daresay you must be wondering about my interest here. I am doing a dissertation on Blogatude. It started when I noticed all the web awards that take place, and I checked out the winners and what made them winners. It is a lot of reading, but it is extremely interesting reading. Many of the winning blog owners are very gracious individuals. They do not insult their guests; in fact, they seem to realize without their guests, they would be nothing. Other blog owners, high up in the ratings list and not necessarily particular winners of the latest award show, are quite different. Some have God complexes. This is why I was interested in your piece as you fit this category. I have read many condescending pieces, and I have responded to a few. I could not resist yours as it was on-topic for a while and then went off-topic. You also publicly rattled your scepter at a few people you would obviously like to wipe your feet on or send them to the NOSE PUNCH CLUB - As if your tantrums and ‘fuck you’s’ weren’t enough. God has spoken, eh?

Sorry this is so long. I just wanted to make myself clear.

“I need no warrant for my being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.” Ayn Rand

Hey ElanI'm no big... (Below threshold)

Hey Elan

I'm no big defender of Jay Tea's views, but I must say your attitude that anyone who hasn't read Ayn Rand is a moron, added to your suggestion that Atlas Shrugged should be "required reading" hardly puts you in a position to take a superior tone. Maybe you need to get over yourself a little bit.

And incidentally, a Library of Congress survey found that Atlas Shrugged was the second most influential book, largely because of true believers like you, not the second most widely read, whatever that means. The second selling book is Mao's Little Red Book (now that was required reading) and the two best selling novels are Valley of the Dolls and Gone With the Wind (both woment authors; oh, the irony.) Perhaps Ayn Rand will be more widely read when she becomes "required reading."

Hey Chris,I don't ... (Below threshold)

Hey Chris,

I don't usually respond to guys who are foolish enough to state upfront their disdain for women, but I'll make an exception for you. I cannot resist stupid men.

I did not suggest the J. man was a moron for not reading Ayn Rand, but that he actually admitted he hadn't. Kind of like you admitting you don't like women. How would my suggestion about Atlas Shrugged make me 'superior' in the least? If I got over myself, I wouldn't be myself. What a ridiculously trite quip that is.

You did give me a nice laugh about Mao's Little Red Book. To 50 million Chinese: Read this or die! Let's see... Atlas Shrugged is the second most influential book? Hmmm... I like your source. I'd certainly prefer 'most influential' than 'most romantic' or 'most tawdry'. You have to admit that is quite an honor. Your assumption that I am an avid devotee of Ayn Rand is just that - an assumption.

But, my comments were not about Ayn Rand. If he had said Karl Popper, I would have reacted the same. That was not the point. The point is this man not only cannot write, but he has a God Complex that makes him think it is fine and dandy to treat people in a supercilious manner. I've been studying this trend on successful blogs. Not everyone who owns a blog is like this, of course. In the work I have done, I have seen Wizbang removed on quite a few blogrolls.

Hey. Maybe he should read Mao's Little Red Book. Wasn't that all about how to act?

Disdain for women? Perhaps ... (Below threshold)

Disdain for women? Perhaps I wasn't clear. I was trying to communicate disdain for you. As for the rest of your post, I'm beginning to suspect that you're just batshit crazy.

(Utterly irrelevant, egotis... (Below threshold)

(Utterly irrelevant, egotistical, and really, really boring tripe frem the #2 guy cited above deleted)






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