Friday, August 08, 2008

A Subtle Trap

I received an e-mail this morning from "CNN UPdates."  Two e-mails, in fact.  I pondered this carefully.  Could it be possible?  I don't recall signing up for CNN updates. 

I opened the first one.  My e-mail program didn't allow the pictures to download, but I see the link to the story I am being updated on:


I WILL DIE IF YOU DO NOT HELP ME NOW

Good grief!  Someone will die unless I read this news article!  Right now!

But then I paused.  This does not sound like any news article I have ever read.  In fact, most news articles say things like, "People are dying and there is nothing you can do about it, so feel free to sit in your easy chair and read the newspaper."

Hmmmm.

So I opened the second e-mail, only to discover this shocking headline:

BABY BORNED WITH A MOUSTACHE

"What!?" I cried.  "A baby?  Borned?  With a Moustache?"  This deeply distressed me.  But perhaps they meant moustache in the sense of the ancient Greek mustax, which means merely "upper lip."  I could not, however, see why CNN would be covering the story "BABY BORNED WITH UPPER LIP."  So they must mean, as the Slovaks would say, that the baby was borned with a fúzy.  I paced the room restlessly.  Should I click on the link and learn more?  A deep curiousity drew me to these stories.  Someone's life might hang in the balance on the first story and in the second... some poor baby had to learn to use a razor so young in life.  And he was just borned that way.

Wait a minute.  The word "borned" bothered me.  I looked it up in the dictionary.  No such word.  My dictionary politely suggested that perhaps I meant "burned."  BABY BURNED WITH MOUSTACHE.  Hmmm.  Now we were getting somewhere.  Some well-meaning moustachioed man must have accidentally lit his lip aflame, run to tell the baby, picked it up when it began to cry, forgetting the conflagration upon his face, held the baby up to comfort it and accidentally burned it with his moustache.  Unless it meant BABY BOUND WITH MOUSTACHE.  But no, a moustache of that length is simply too terrible to consider.

Could this be a scam, I wondered.  I don't recall signing up for CNN updates.  But then it said, right there on the bottom of the e-mail:  You have agreed to receive this email from CNN.com as a result of your CNN.com preference settings.

I thought back on this.  Was it possible I had signed up for CNN updates?  Was it possible that I had put in my settings "E-mail updates about people in grave peril who can only be helped by me somehow over the interrnet" and "Babies borned or burned or bound by facial hair"?  It seemed... only distantly possible.

I looked at the e-mail address which sent this e-mail to me.  fredrek-nofalped@nordbelg.com.  Ah.  Fredrek Nofalped, my old enemy.  The NordBelgians have been after me for a long time.  And I almost fell for it!  I shake my fist at thee, Frederek, son of Nofalped!  Do not profane the name of CNN with your freakish stories, attempting to convince me to follow thee into dark corners of the internet!  And now, hear my solemn oath: As a punishment for your wicked opposition to me, I will invent a time machine, go back in time and completely erradicate NordBelgium from the face of the space-time continuum.  When I am done, no geographer on earth will know your name.  "NordBelgium?" They will say.  "Are you sure you don't mean... Belgium?  Or Nordstrom's?"  Thus shall my revenge against thee be... complete.

This... I COMMAND!