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TUCoPS :: Cyber Culture :: rhodes.txt

Some notes on electronic chain letters that have been floating aro




Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs,alt.sex,alt.sex.rush.limbaugh.bathhouse.queen
Subject: Re: MAKE.MONEY.FAST (David Rhodes letter)
Date: Sun Oct 24 03:37:53 1993

Ah - as Halloween approaches some familiar ghosts
rush eagerly forward.....

Actually this electronic allomorph is rather interesting to the
social historians.  Nobody is going to make any money off this,
of course: I take it everyone is aware of that.  Whether you
post to bulletin boards or mail through the US mail, these
$1/$5 chain letters never produce any income: partly the return on
this kind of blind mailing is abysmally low anyway, no matter
what you are peddling - if you do an indiscriminate (non-specialised)
mailing you can expect between 0.05% and 1% return, and that's
if you are offering information only, not asking for money -
partly, of the people who do add their name to this list and
mail out copies, no-one ever sends off those $1s to others on
the list (why should they?).

So where does the David Rhodes letter come from? It's been around for
quite a while, and the date when his car was 'repossessed' varies
(usually set to be about 3 years previous to the present date); there
is also a variant with a letter of recommendation from 'a lawyer'
(called Philip something, I recall). Of course neither the ghostly
Rhodes nor the lawyer ever have any address or phone number...
The variations arise partly in the course of 'oral' transmission,
of course, and this is a well-attested feature of oral tradition.
The tenacity, though, is mostly due to the fact that in its
non-electronic form there is a paragraph recommending a particular
mailing-list company as a source of names (they'll sell you
1,000 names for $50, or whatever): some of the unscrupulous
name-list companies put this letter out every now and then to
drum up business, it's as simple as that.

Of course, the electronic form (with the mailing-list company
para removed) is like the tail without the body: a lot of
wagging going on and nowhere to go - a *real* nuisance to
everyone because of the clutter, and a definite health hazard
to the few that are irrascible (who then create more clutter
for us all posting rude notes, which have no utility anyway).

And if you're tempted to try the mailed version of the Rhodes
letter don't: it _is_ illegal, and the postal authorities
sometimes come down hard on people who send it round.

The mainspring, though, is vain hope: wouldn't it be nice if,
just once, there could be a simple, effortless way of getting
mildly wealthy? Perhaps, just perhaps, this is IT! Perhaps,
just perhaps, the laws of the universe will hang for a
moment, and in _my_ favor....

Well, if you feel like having a throw at the table of Outrageous
Fortune don't pitch it at this will-o-the-wisp: make your
offerings to a ghost with better credentials than this.  You'd
even do better taking your $50 to the race-course and putting
it all on the rankest outsider.

And if you can rein in your vain hopes just a bit, and temper
them with a dash of realism, put your $50 into starting up
a small business of your own - a small beginning, but with
some help it could grow. (And if you need suggestions there
are several of us who have done quite a lot of research into
'business opportunities' and know of some good ventures 
that are worth considering.)

Anthony Bulloch
abulloch@garnet.berkeley


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