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Anthrax To Kill Snail Mail

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the interesting-question dept.

The Internet 522

omnirealm writes "Steven Levy over at NBC expressed his opinion that the new anthrax thread in our snail-mail is going to be a major catalyst to a general switch to e-mail as the primary means of written communication."

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er... no... (3, Insightful)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425358)

I thought the 34-cent stamp took care of that pretty well.

I'm not exactly afraid of getting Anthrax in the mail.

- A.P.

I got your Anthrax... (-1)

Pr0n K1ng (160688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425360)

And other biologically engineered diseases right here!

Your Mom... (-1)

egg troll (515396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425446)

...gave me a disease after I sodomized her the other night. Now I've got warts the size of califlower heads on my cock. :(

Re:Your Mom... (-1)

Pr0n K1ng (160688) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425512)

Please...

I've come to expect better from you, egg troll. At least take the time to correctly spell every word that you post.

Cauliflower. That wasn't that difficult, was it?

Where the fuck is Geekizoid? I'm starting to miss it...

Bloody (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425361)

Formula 1

Try sending a lawnmower through email... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425362)

nuff said...

This is here to fool the lame lame filter.

Virus (-1, Redundant)

Jon Evans (6172) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425365)

Because everyone knows you can't get a virus by email.

Hey, wait a minute...

steven levy is full of shit. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425366)

nuff zed.

Not a fUx1N' troll!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425383)

steven levy is full of shit. dammit!

Amen! (-1)

egg troll (515396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425394)

Damn I was just going to post that same thing but you beat me to it. Yeah, it defiantely sounds like Steven Levy is more full of shit than a septic tank.

Sound analysis.... (-1, Redundant)

s1r_m1xalot (218277) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425367)


After all, it's not like anyone has ever gotten a virus through email....

Oh wait. ;)

What about representatives (3, Interesting)

joshtimmons (241649) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425369)

At least that would mean that our representatives in government might start actually reading email.

Re:What about representatives (2)

spudnic (32107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425434)

...or just have a lot more free time on their hands!

your reps are all spammed out (4, Insightful)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425490)

At least that would mean that our representatives in government might start actually reading email.

uh, no.

Simply put the reps are all spammed out. Every single interest group in the country country can send thousands of email to a rep, complete with slightly varied names and subject lines, and content. It is a trivial programing problem to generate sentences and paragraphs out of a database with calibration for education level and other demographics. Any programmer competent in databases could set something like this up.

So the only way reps can verify that the input is legit is if it is postmarked from their district, hand written, etc.

You think you get Junk Mail? multiply what you get by a factor of a thousand or two for snail mail, especially if you live in an important district.

So the odds of them actually reading email are slim and none. Think of them being under a continous DDOS attack for the past 5+ years, if not more. They probably pick out one out of every 100 or 200 or so at random, and use that as a sample of what they get

you're more likely to die (5, Informative)

mj6798 (514047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425371)

from an infected paper cut. Pardon me while I'm not worried. And until E-mail gets the same legal standing as snail mail (complete with legally recognized notarization, authentication, and proof of delivery) we can't replace snail mail.

Re:you're more likely to die (2, Insightful)

Tooky (15656) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425498)

Besides, the digital divide really is too big! Even within the Western World, let alone when you consider international communication! I'm sure there'd be some pretty pissed off people if they couldn't get a letter/postcard from their friends/family in some of the less priveleged parts of the world, where the postal service is slow but the only real means of communication.

Personally, I still use real letters for the personal touch, and I love to recieve a really nice letter from someone I don't see very often. There's jst something special about a letter, its something people take time over and put a bit of effort into. Emails are just too easy, people reel them off all the time!

Hmm.... (2, Funny)

s88 (255181) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425372)

Can someone help me, im trying to find out how to send a "written" letter using email?

Scott

Re:Hmm.... (2, Funny)

thilmony (248711) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425411)

How's this?

http://www.thilmony.com/duh/duh.jpg

I would email it to you, but I don't have your email address. Should I print it and snail mail it to you?

How are you gentlemen (1, Funny)

Shiska (131) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425373)

I send you this Anthrax to have your advice. Bye. Thanks for stopping by.

!

Anthrax sent to microsoft employees (0, Flamebait)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425375)

If microsoft wants to avoid having employees come down with anthrax, they should try to get the terrorists to send the letters to departments at microsoft which don't exist and therefore the mail would be lost in the mail system and never delivered and opened. Names such as the "Microsoft Usability Testing Group" and the "Microsoft Security Testing Group" would be excellent choices.

Re:Anthrax sent to microsoft employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425398)

Ahhhh. Good ole Slashdot. The only online publication whose readers exploit a national disaster to insult Microsoft. Unfortunately, In Ukab the Great's zeal to be the first of many to do the same, he made a few mistakes. First, he used his +2 bonus for something which is most obviously crap. Next, he reached to far to slam them. You need to let the jokes come naturally.

Re:Anthrax sent to microsoft employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425449)

Really. Something simple would have gone much further.... "It's all M$'s doing; who gives a shit about email viruses now?"

What is an "Anthrax thread"? (2)

Sydney Weidman (187981) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425376)

I thought they were using powder...

Re:What is an "Anthrax thread"? (2, Informative)

omnirealm (244599) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425440)

I meant to type "threat." It's this strange curse, I guess. No matter how hard I try, typo's always seem to slip through...

Re:What is an "Anthrax thread"? (2)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425462)

Something that Scott Ian wears?

Nothing Important (1)

NSupremo (161699) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425377)

Most mail is Spam.
Most mail is a BIll.

I toss them all in the trash anyway.

I've always felt the USPS should deliver only Three times a week. (They can't do that because there is so much SPAM and Bills piling up constantly.)

Hmm... (1)

chris-johnson (45745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425379)

I find it odd that we still use 'snail mail', atleast as much as we do. It certainly seems like everyone and their grandmother has an email account now (even if they don't have a computer or internet access in their home, an internet cafe or library or such near them almost undoubtedly does). The advantages of email to snail certainly seem to be enough that snail mail should magically disappear sometime when we're not looking...

Perhaps the anthrax scare will quicken the process, but I doubt it. I believe it'll happen soon, but that this won't make it happen any quicker.

Everyone has e-mail? (3, Insightful)

jinx90277 (517785) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425425)

It certainly seems like everyone and their grandmother has an email account now (even if they don't have a computer or internet access in their home, an internet cafe or library or such near them almost undoubtedly does).
I don't know everyone, but I do know my grandmother, and she doesn't have an e-mail account. My mom has access to e-mail, but that's because my dad is nice enough to print it out and show it to her. Many people in this country either do not have basic computer skills to let them use e-mail, or even the economic status to allow computers to be an item in the monthly budget. Those of us who are debating this question need to realize that we are privileged.

Perhaps I have a Luddite streak in me somewhere, but I also have an irrational fondness for "old" media: LPs, newspapers, printed books. I suppose someday I can spend a Sunday morning at the local coffee shop reading over the electronic version of the Los Angeles Times on my Palm XVIII, but it won't be the same, and I will miss getting newsprint on my fingers. But I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way, and it will be used as justification to avoid change. E-mail has many advantages, but it belongs to a new generation, it seems. My mother might learn, but my grandmother never will.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425435)

> I find it odd that we still use 'snail mail', atleast as much as we
>do. It certainly seems like everyone and their grandmother has an
>email account now (even if they don't have a computer or internet
>access in their home, an internet cafe or library or such near them
>almost undoubtedly does). The advantages of email to snail certainly
>seem to be enough that snail mail should magically disappear sometime
>when we're not looking...
>Perhaps the anthrax scare will quicken the process, but I doubt it. I
>believe it'll happen soon, but that this won't make it happen any
>quicker.
>
>
You people are a bunch of idiots. Sorry to break it to you, but most people aren't interested in paying a monthly $25-$50 monthly fee for mail, plus all the cute hidden charges that'll be thrown in. There *ARE* no real advantages of e-mail over so-called snail mail,and you're an utter fool if you think otherwise.

Re:Hmm... (0)

part!cle (473500) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425460)

"me fail english? thats unpossible!" Is a ralphism from the Simpsons!

Okay... (1)

thrig (36791) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425380)

More people are going to be using Outlook.

This is a good thing how?

Re:Okay... (1)

superpeach (110218) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425457)

I cant see people getting rid of snail-mail in the near future, he said that for packages and things there is UPS or FedEx or whoever.. what stops antrax being 'delivered' via any of them? All physical deliveries would need to be stopped to make sure. Noone will consider abandoning snail-mail until teleportation devices are created :) but of course, even then someone could attach antrax to an email - and how many times would you end up with a half CPU half fly turning up at upgrade time?

Re:Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425523)

More people are going to be using Outlook.

Great, anthrax or Nimda...

email will work until...... (1)

kammat (114899) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425381)

someone unleashes anthrax.vbs against Outlook users worldwide.

on top of NBC.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425382)

...dont forget MS's Anthrax scare....

Their Reno, Nevada office has a letter that tested positive for anthrax. See http://www.cnn.com/2001/HEALTH/conditions/10/13/an thrax/index.html [cnn.com]

interestingly enough, that's MS's Licensing Dept

Re:on top of NBC.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425515)

> ...dont forget MS's Anthrax scare....
>Their Reno, Nevada office has a letter that tested positive for
>anthrax. See http://www.cnn.com/2001/HEALTH/conditions/10/13/an
>thrax/index.html [cnn.com]
>interestingly enough, that's MS's Licensing Dept
>
>
>
Maybe the MS laywers decided to harass the wrong people in Nevada?

As Norm MacDonald used to say... (3, Funny)

Tony Shepps (333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425384)

"Read this, and other stories, in this month's edition of 'Duh' magazine."

What about the USPS? (1)

Mad Marlin (96929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425387)

Are they going to start giving free e-mail from usps.gov, or mail.gov, or some equivalent, or just slowly die? After all, almost nobody mails any packages through the USPS, just letters and junk mail, and e-mail has pretty much taken over the junk mail too.

Re:What about the USPS? (1)

Sonicboom (141577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425430)

Maybe it's time the .gov passes legislation to eliminate junk mail... that way it'll be easier for postal inspectors to look for suspicious stuff.

Could be a good thing. (4, Interesting)

kmcmartin (248018) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425389)

In the interest of authentication, perhaps this would be a good thing. If more people used digital signatures, more people would likely find it easier to begin using encryption as well. NAI might be kicking themselves over selling off its PGP division after all. How do you know if the bill you got by email is really from your VISA company, and not from Evil Eve the Eavesdropper?

Most government officials would likely right this off as paranoia, and unnecessary because *nobody* would EVER want to wiretap its citizens and steal their credit card information.

What about authentication? (4, Insightful)

jimhill (7277) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425391)

It's interesting that Levy thinks the end of snail mail is in sight when digital means of authentication are rarely used -- when available. Now that Sen. Gregg and his like-minded compatriots have launched another offensive on crypto software, expect the issue to get even more snarled. It takes more than "Sincerely, Jim" at the bottom of an email to make me trust its source.

I thought this was supposed to happen years ago .. (4, Insightful)

aliebrah (135162) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425393)

Really, the average person doesn't need to be worried about getting anthrax in the mail. I don't think its much of an issue - at least its not for me.

People forget that snail mail is still very important to having an effective communications, as in many cases it can't be beat. The quickest way to get something physical from one place to another (barring courier services) is by mail. To say that the USPS is dead because no one will want to mail stuff is not only premature and unrealistic, but also quite sensationalistic. In most cases, this one especially you can tell when someone is making stuff up to make the headlines rather than writing stuff that actually makes good sense. Having read this article, it makes very little sense at all. As much as I use computers/email, I for one would be majorly pissed if one day I found mail service was no longer there.

People say time and time again the mail is dead. But just look ... its still there and doesn't show any sign of disappearing.

Re:I thought this was supposed to happen years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425480)

>(barring courier services) is by mail. To say that the USPS is dead
>because no one will want to mail stuff is not only premature and
>unrealistic, but also quite sensationalistic. In most cases, this one
>especially you can tell when someone is making stuff up to make the
>headlines rather than writing stuff that actually makes good sense.
>Having read this article, it makes very little sense at all. As much
>as I use computers/email, I for one would be majorly pissed if one day
>I found mail service was no longer there.
>People say time and time again the mail is dead. But just look ... its
>still there and doesn't show any sign of disappearing.
>
>
In a real crisis, the e-mail system have proven time and time again to be pretty much worthless. Try sending E-mail to an adress at the former Twin Towers. Opps, you can't,while "snailmail" sent to those same addresses are being held for people at the various post offices. In other words, in a real crisis a physical location where you can actually pick up your mail beats a non-existant virual one.

Re:I thought this was supposed to happen years ago (1)

cuyler (444961) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425487)

Granted I'm not an American citizen so I can't say how fast the USPS is but personally I find that it's not that expensive to send things via courier and much quicker. The business that I work for sends most of its mail via a courier service or internally.

Anything that needs to get signed or where a hardcopy is needed (such as the yearly benefit summary) is sent either by the internal mail system or through a courier service. All other notices are done via e-mail. The only thing that I can think of that the company still uses snail mail for is if you don't want your paystub delivered at work.

I don't think that these anthrax cases are going to causes snail mail to die out but I think that slowly a government run mail system may be replaced by a company own service (such as FedEx).

Just a thought.

- Cuyler

With all the talk of a new police state..... (5, Interesting)

ainsoph (2216) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425395)

You would think that the FBI would do a lot better than this with regards to the Anthrax "crisis".

I think it is pretty damn scary that they can ignore something like this for as long as they did.

FBI did not test suspect NBC package for 2 weeks


NEW YORK: The FBI failed to test the suspicious powder sent to an NBC employee in New York for two weeks and it was a private doctor who raised the alarm over the new case of anthrax, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The report said that the FBI was notified about the powder on September 25, picked it up a day later but did not do any laboratory tests on the powder or take skin samples from the NBC employee who handled the package.

The report said that it was only after the NBC staffer - identified as 38-year-old Erin O' Connor - developed a sore on her chest, visited several doctors and was diagnosed with skin anthrax that the powder was tested.

The powder was eventually found to be negative. New York FBI chief Barry Mawn said that it was "unfortunate" the tests were not conducted immediately. Mawn said that the FBI had investigated dozens of suspicious substances since the September 11 terrorist attacks.


Unfortunate, yes but for the first few days that this was coming up they really tried to downplay it like it was not going on. On 'Politically Incorrect' a replublican strategist said they were thinking of suing CNN for falsly creating a Anthrax scare.

Doesnt look false to me.

Hysteria (2, Interesting)

Bud Dwyer (527622) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425397)

Why should we let terrorists change the way we do business? Isn't that exactly what we don't want?


So far, we have reports of three letters supposedly laced with Anthrax. One death has resulted, and no more deaths seem likely. These are hardly numbers warranting an end to snail mail.


The news media seriously needs to stop trying to incite hysteria in the American public.

Snail mail won't be entirely lost (2, Insightful)

ruszka (456169) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425399)

While many people may have to switch to e-mail if this anthrax scare continues, I doubt it'll completely kill snail mail.. People are sentimental, or at least I am. I love receiving handwritten letters from my friends and family.. not to mention photos I can hold in my hand and hang on my wall.. e-mail won't replace this for me..

something last night happened like this (1)

Cheetah86 (136854) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425401)

Last night at my high school they recieved a shipment of SAT books for this mornings tests. Apparently they had some kind of powder on them and a squad was called in to investigate and contaminate a possible threat. I heard this from a few people today but nothing official from the school. It seems that security standards have been raised after the recent attacks. Better safe than sorry I guess.

Re:something last night happened like this (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425473)

Last night at my high school they recieved a shipment of SAT books for this mornings tests. Apparently they had some kind of powder on them and a squad was called in to investigate and contaminate a possible threat

So, how'd you do on the test?

Great... (2, Funny)

Russ Steffen (263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425402)

Great. I'm looking forward to a whole Inbox full of "I send you this anthrax to have your advice...".

Crude as this sentiment is.... (0, Troll)

Chas (5144) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425403)

It's nothing a few hundred megatons in the right places couldn't cure.....

Re:Crude as this sentiment is.... (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425416)

Although nuking sites that are suspected to be infected with Anthrax would probably kill any virus, that is a very crude way to do it, yes.

Re:Crude as this sentiment is.... (5, Insightful)

dhogaza (64507) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425421)

Like on the good 'ole USA? (There's no proof thus far that these cases are the result of any external terrorist group. It could well be a good 'ole boy here in the US pissed of at "the libral media's showing Osama bin Laden's videotaped propaganda" or the like).

Anthrax: Not really a good weapon anyway (2)

falloutboy (150069) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425404)

As much as anything under the heading of "biological warfare" is scary, the idea of getting anthrax doesn't send me into a fit of panic.


I found a bunch of interesting and reassuring information on Heathlinkusa.com [healthlinkusa.com] .


The fact is, there exists both a cure for anthrax and even a vaccine. There's an article on ABCNews [204.202.137.111] that explains how anthrax works, and that if caught early enough, it can be treated with penicillin.


My theory is that the anthrax infections we've been reading about are not the responsibility of terrorists, but just some nutcase somewhere in the country who is trying to scare the hell out of everyone, although I cannot fathom why.

Re:Anthrax: Not really a good weapon anyway (1)

Russ Steffen (263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425469)

the anthrax infections we've been reading about are not the responsibility of terrorists, but just some nutcase somewhere in the country who is trying to scare the hell out of everyone...

Huh? Wouldn't the nutcase you speak of be a terrorist by definition?

Re:Anthrax: Not really a good weapon anyway (2)

jallen02 (124384) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425491)

The "so called" vaccine is really just a toxin they pump into your body that kills the bacteria. Its not a true vaccine in the regular sense. You can't really vaccinate (in the traditional sense) against bacteria.

The affects of the "vaccine" are debatable, I know people who left the military (dishonorable discharge) over not taking an antrax vaccine. It also involves a series of shots over several weeks followed by a shot every year to keep the toxins up in your body. Cure worse than disease?

Anthrax is anthrax, if you happen to breath it you die.

You won't really know you have it until your dead.

Another intersting fact that should bother everyone here some... The case of inhaled anthrax is the first documented case of anthrax in the last 25 YEARS

Not just here, anywhere. Of course now everyone will be looking for it so cutaneous may get identified more readily but still... 25 years and not one inhaled case and all of this sudden three cases in two completely different geographical regions?

A letter sent to microsoft with Anthrax?

No I doubt anyones gonna send me anthrax, and no im not worried about anyone using anthrax to kill people

Anthrax is now popularized in the media, there are scarier things out there than anthrax.

Jeremy

Re:Anthrax: Not really a good weapon anyway (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425517)

My theory is that the anthrax infections we've been reading about are not the responsibility of terrorists, but just some nutcase somewhere in the country who is trying to scare the hell out of everyone, although I cannot fathom why.
Please explain how the fuck you can draw this conclusion? Definition of terrorist "someone who terrorizes other people." What makes you so sure they're not? Why do you think they're targeting the media? Probably to cause paralysis in the media itself -- if you attack the media you're ensured that the media is going to report on the incident and in the process the media itself will panic. If the media is panicking, the rest of the public will panic.
You know what is a good weapon, napalm -- which is what I suggest we drop on that fucking mountain Osama is sitting on.

NEW TROLL COMING ON MONDAY!! (-1)

egg troll (515396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425413)

I've been working on a new troll to appear on this very website this Monday. The "My Experience With Linux" troll has been excellent, but the time has come to retire it. My new troll will expand upon "VB as a serious programming language" theme, mentioned in the other troll.

I encourage all trolls to check this website Monday morning, between 9 and 10 in the morning, PST (I put PST there so I don't have to listen to insecure Europeans bitching about it when I don't post until midnight their time.)

See you then! :)

Egg Troll

Re:NEW TROLL COMING ON MONDAY!! (-1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425452)

Personally I can't wait. Are we allowed to cut/paste it and start a crapflood?

Yeah, whatever (2)

Logic Bomb (122875) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425417)

This is one of the more extreme examples of ridiculous predictions over how life will change in the US after 9/11. The tons of reasons people have used actual written/printed communication in the past continue to exist, and will not easily be supplanted by *anything* electronic. (Think about all the documents we use that require witness signatures or notarizing and then are kept in archives for decades.)

In other words, this article is just one big troll.

Someone will come up with a snail mail virus scann (5, Funny)

mesocyclone (80188) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425418)

Look at the money to be made! Maybe Symantec or McAfee can come up with a "virus" scanner for Snail Mail. Clearly its needed.

Minimum wage? (1)

epcraig (102626) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425419)

So minimum wage workers are going to get computers? Sure! Right!
Even the homeless can get free snail-mail addresses, but email?
We're not all middle class. Fewer are every day.

... where we've been used to virus-mail for ages.. (2)

torpor (458) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425422)

... well, at least that's been the case in the United States of Microsoft.

Where do I get one? (2, Funny)

flacco (324089) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425423)

the new anthrax thread in our snail-mail is going to be a major catalyst

Hey, where did you get the threading snail-mail client?

LOL!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425427)

This is so hilarious!

Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425431)

I never thought that I would be worried about getting a virus from Snail Mail.

eMail (0)

ZaneMcAuley (266747) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425436)

What about http://www.digiscents.com/ ?

Feel safer with eMail now :)

How crazy is this? (2, Insightful)

sharlskdy (460886) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425438)

Someone targets airplanes, and people stop flying. Someone targets mail, and people stop using mail. Is this kind of a response reasonable? There's a lot of knee-jerk reactions which are not necessarily effective, and the economic effects of wholesale eschewment of mail and air travel are pretty widespread.

This suggestion reminds me of the panic surrounding the unibomber. People were afraid to send and receive packages, although millions of packages were sent through the FedEx, UPS and the mail every day.

It is upsetting that mail is something we can't implicitly trust after the events of the last week, but it is an extremely useful and, I think, necessary tool. Air travel is still quite safe and I expect to continue to fly when I need to without much thought of what if...

I refuse to live my life worried every minute about what might happen.

Re:How crazy is this? (5, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425494)

Someone targets airplanes, and people stop flying. Someone targets mail, and people stop using mail. Is this kind of a response reasonable? There's a lot of knee-jerk reactions which are not necessarily effective, and the economic effects of wholesale eschewment of mail and air travel are pretty widespread.

Yet in other areas people are so incredibly complacent. People will put off travel despite an impossibly remote possibility of being a victim of travel, but they'll happily hop on the local highway without regard for hundreds of 20,000lb transports hurtling down the road at 75mph all around them, any of which could crush them to death in the slightest instant if the driver just flicked the steering wheel the tiniest bit. 41,611 [dot.gov] people were killed in automobile accidents alone in 1999 on US roads. 430,700 people died per year between 1990 and 1994 [cdc.gov] from cigarette smoking alone. It's quite stunning really the fear that the media can drum up when we come to live with enormously costly things like the millions that die every year because of voluntarily choosing to eat Big Macs and other high saturated fat foods.

I'm not saying that dying at the hand to terrorists is comparable to voluntarily undertaken risks, but it does seem that some things are being grossly overstated, such as the risks of anthrax.

Killing Snail Mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425441)

Woah! Whoever thought of it, that's a damn smart way to finally get congresspeople to listen to the emails we've been sending to them. :>

Mail beats Email (5, Informative)

maggard (5579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425443)

There a couple of serious impediments to abolishing mail.

  1. Universal penetration. Everyone in the USA has a postal address. Park benches are legitimate delivery addresses (yes - tested in court.) Only a fraction of the population has email or will likely have such in the near future.
  2. Universal transmission. I can send a postal letter around the world and assume that the recipient will be able to recieve it. From major world capitols to off-the-map slums postal service has a reasonably good tradition of getting through. Email again requires that the recipient haave the same or some alternative last-mile system - not at all typical.
  3. There are no good address-lookup or general-delivery mechanisms for email. If I want to contact Somebody at BigCorp I can look up BigCorp's address and send a letter to Somebody there, it'll generally get manually routed properly. If I know the town Somebody lives in I can often simply look them up in a ubiquitious phonebook or online and assuming they're listed and have a sufficiently unique name I've got their address. There are some services that attempt to provide this for email but they're mostly useless.
  4. There's a large body of law concerning the privacy of letters, the delivery of such, etc. This is NOT the case for email. Frankly I trust the folks of the USPS to transport my mail securely & reliably far more then I do the monkeys at my ISP and the servers between me & my email's destination.
  5. While there are encryption and authenticaion mechanisms for email they're about useless as far as the general population or even most businesses are concerned. Postal mail has no authentication but it does generally get delivered to the right place securely.
  6. Most postal addresses are good for both letters & package deliveries, neither of which is true for email.
  7. Postal mail is free to recieve and only costs the sender some change. Email requires either a computer system and ISP or access to a public facility offering this.
  8. Courts don't recognize email as a delivery mechanism and certianly not for material that must be signed for.

    Frankly with 1 case of transmission of anthrax by postal mail I think the whole topic is foolish and a sad attempt by a columnist to get some attention.

Until someone learns to...... (1)

mcknation (217793) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425444)

Transmit Anthrax via modem...

But think about it...they found on that guys keyboard!

Mck

What does metal music have to do with this? (5, Funny)

jmauro (32523) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425447)

I mean first, metal music was forcing kids to kill themselves, then metal music was forcing kids to kill their parents. Then, Tipper Gore thought metal music was destroying America. Now, Anthrax [anthrax.com] is killing the USPS? Who'd of thought. I always thought the RIAA wanted to prevent music transfered over the internet. Now others want Anthrax transmitted over email. How weird.

In other news, Anthrax is going to change it's name to "Basket Full Of Puppies" [washingtonpost.com]

Re:What does metal music have to do with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425526)

Puns are the lowest form of humour.

Mass-Murder (1)

helinem (465945) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425448)

If mass-murders have not slowed the sale of hand weapons, then anthrax attacks will not slow the usage of paper mail.

Only marginally on topic... (0, Flamebait)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425450)

But I've yet to see a single palestinian troll post on any terrorism story here. What gives, are they actually ashamed of themselves, or just clever enough to know when to be strategically/politically quiet? Frankly, I'm interested in hearing again about how Israeli soldiers are monsters that live only to kill muslims, or how 4000 jews mysteriously were home sick Sept 11. Go on, tell us some more lies that only those with psychiatric conditions could believe. Those stories go so well with ones such as this....

viruses come on both sides! (1)

Cinematique (167333) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425453)

so let me get this straight... people are going to move from snail mail to email because of anthrax? email has virii too. sircam anyone?

the predicted demise of snail mail is about as silly as saying that people are going to stop using microsoft outlook in droves because we all know how insecure it is. unforuntately, nobody is.

funk dat.

feh. (5, Interesting)

motherhead (344331) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425456)

Insane. A handful of jackasses mail a handful of poison apples and one writer has an epiphany that an America will now forsake using the postal system.

I send or respond to hundreds of emails a day, as I am sure quite a few of us do, personally I find it is the differences between email and snail mail that make it cornerstone of society.

Email lets me communicate to someone using electronic representations of words or images. Powerful stuff, certainly powerful enough to conduct business and maintain strong lines of communication with family and friends.

But snail mail allows my kids, my wife, to create something for me physically and to send it thousands of miles away for me to hold in my hands, if you ever got a perfumed letter from your woman when you have been jonesing for her for weeks, you realize why email is not a final postal solution.

Never mind that I do 60% of my shopping online and receive parcels in a timely fashion from all four corners of this country and from a couple others. Never mind that if an old acquaintance wants to contact me the odds of him finding my physical address is greater then him stumbling into my email address. Never mind that letters written by pen usually have greater value both in terms of the thought that went into them and to the appreciation of the reader.

Yeah junk mail sucks ass and needs to be addressed and destroyed. I am not saying snail mail is not silly with flaws. What I am saying is this is horseshit. We lived through the unibomber and if you are old enough you might remember that in the early seventies mail-bombs were flying around in a near epidemic. Unibomber-boy (teddy K) did not invent it. And hey look, the problem is so bad most of the kids on slash dot won't have a clue about it.

Man when bored journalists with deadlines write shitty pieces I don't get upset, I know a job is a job. But responding/reacting to it is just plain stupid.

Some Alternative News Regarding The Recent Events (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425458)

Isn't snail mail already dead? (1)

mashy (135839) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425459)

At least as a means of written communication, honestly within the last several years when have you actually sent someone a message via postal mail? Today everyone has a telephone and quick messages are probably either given over it or by email. It didn't take people long to realize how ineffective it is to communicate with your average person when you have to wait days or even weeks before they even read what you sent them.Email is already the cost effective way (for those who already have computers/internet service of course) to send lengthy messages quickly, but until they find a way to scan and encode physical items into an email attachment, snail mail is still going to be the way to send packages, which unfortunately is a convenient ways to send these hazardous items.

I'm sick of this anthrax bullshit..... (5, Interesting)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425461)

Okay, I'm very sick of the media and government trying to scare people by making them believe that they are at threat from biological and chemical weapons used by terrorists.

The fact of the matter is that biological and chemical weapons just aren't practical. They are pretty fucking dangerous, I won't argue that. But they are very impractical as weapons of mass destruction.

For example, out of the thousands of people in the subway in tokyo where a bunch of wacko's sprayed sarin gas only 12 people were killed. 12 out of thousands. A success? I say no.

You see, first of all it takes a lot of money and people with very huge educations just to produce the stuff. Then it is incredibly hard and dangerous to transport it. You run the risk of infecting yourself.

But the real reason that we aren't going to see a whole lot of these attacks is because the payload just isn't high enough. After spending millions of dollars to produce the stuff, expending a couple chemists who died in the shitty-ass lab in afghanistan producing it you've only killed a couple people. It's much cheaper, easier and kills a lot more people to just set off a bomb in some building.

But what about just making people sick? After all there was something like 5500 people pooring into the hospitals in tokyo after the sarin gass. Well what they didn't tell you is that 90% of those people were just people who panicked because they were in the subway that day and wanted to get checked out.

And don't forget that before that incident the same terrorist group had tried to use anthrax. They sprayed the shit off a building onto a group of civilians and no one was infected by it.

I read a good article about this written by a phd in microbiology. It contains many more facts that I haven't discussed. You can read it here [villagevoice.com] .

--
Garett

Sweet, but not the total solution (1)

skinney (395862) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425463)

It's about time that more people start using email as a primary form of written communication. But remember that not everyone out there has access to a computer with an internet connection or a wireless PDA to send mail at anytime. Don't forget about bill paying either, there are also a lot of people who are afriad to use their credit cards on-line. Unfounded as these un-truths about the internet are, they still exist. So in my opinion, were on our way to having email being the primary form of communication, but it will take a lot longer and more than the Anthrax scare to get people to switch for good.

~Shane

the most important question is.. (2)

Dr. Awktagon (233360) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425482)

What does Anthrax [anthrax.com] (the band) have to say about all this? And even more importantly, when is somebody going to sue them for mental distress after seeing their name?

(Just saw on their web site they are actually still touring! Yeesh!)

What about the Unabomber? (1)

tiny69 (34486) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425483)

The scare caused by the Unabomber didn't kill snail mail or the sending of packages. Neither will this.

Another 'fine' article from MSNBC (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425488)

It can't just be me that noticed that MSNBC's correspondents, and thus their articles, are generally associated with crack smoking. This article is no exception. Though I do think that snailmail will die eventually, it's going to require that a couple generations die off first. People, especially old people, like physical mail too much, and there's too many of 'em who won't use a computer.

So basically, until Generation X (and later) are the only ones alive, snailmail will remain alive and well. After that point, we have a chance to stop the murderous wholesale slaughter of trees, basically amounting to genocide against various plant species. Yeah, I know, I'm a tree hugger, but it seems ridiculous to me that trees die so that people can get catalogs. If it were cut down to only private correspondence, it wouldn't be so bad.

Re:Another 'fine' article from MSNBC (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425503)

What are you implying? That they sniffed the powder thinking it was a free sample of coke?

Printed Media vs E-books and Email (1)

CrystalCut (307381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425489)

While I have used and love electronic mail since the advent of BBS's and the Internet, nothing can every satisfy the comfortable feeling of curling up in a big comfy chair, compelte with a warm drink, a hot fire, and a big hardback novel. Or even that Victoria's Secret Christmas special.

My fear that the recent terrorist activity, along with printed media already moving towards an electronic format will force this issue more rapidly then we all might wish, is valid. But I also believe that people will never forget the satisfaction of the printed medium, even if eventually it cost's more to produce, market and receive.

After all, it's pretty tough to sneak a laptop into the bathroom to view http://www.victoriassecret.com, and much easier to stuff their catalog into your bathrobe.

Snailmail is dying? Sounds kinda like *BSD... n/m. (2)

Scoria (264473) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425495)

Snailmail is in no way "dying." E-mail doesn't have a reliable method of authentication (unless you count packages such as PGP and GPG, which almost nobody utilizes), so that makes it pretty much impossible to convert its legal equivalency to that of snailmail's.

Sorry. Please stop with the "Snailmail is dying" trolls. ;)

What would it cost ... (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425496)

to send a standard-sized envelope by junk mail to every house and business in America? Either we outlaw this threat, or we're likely to see a lot more notices on street poles promising ...

Make money at home stuffing envelopes!

In Other News... (1)

dafoomie (521507) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425499)

In other news, it is now illegal to seal an envelope, and all mail sent in the U.S. is now subject to be checked for illegal substances, read, and censored. Tom Ashcroft: "This is necessary to prevent terrorism to protect our children. If we can arbitrarily tap phones and intercept digital communications, it stands to reason that we can read 'snail mail' too." Seems silly doesn't it? The DMCA seemed silly too until it passed. We seriously have to start classifying Email like snail-mail, illegal to open, read, and the cops aren't supposed to intercept/read it.

Stop flying too? (1)

kenneth_martens (320269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425502)

Email will replace snail mail when buses and trains replace flying.

It's not going to happen. Email is good for many things, such as personal communication, but it is not good for anything official. I can send a casual letter to my friends with email, but I can't sign a contract and send it back by email. Bits and bytes on a computer are great for transmitting information, but too often legal reasons demand you have something on paper.

Gives new meaning... (1)

twistah (194990) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425505)

This gives a new meaning to:

a) Mail virus
b) "Don't open that attachment, you might get a virus"

It's a conspiracy!!! (2, Interesting)

UnAmericanPunk (310528) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425513)

Ok, let's see, now that congress is passing all these laws that make it ok for the government to read everyone's e-mail (carnivore) it really makes you think. Anthrax isn't that easy to come by from what I've heard (even though it does occur naturally), but government labs seem to have quite a bit of it. Considering all the rights people are giving up already we might as well just add this to the list. Seriously, this kinda stuff scares me more than the terrorists do.

So when you add everything up, we'll have armed military guards in the street to "keep the peace", we'll have flying video cameras to record our every move, our phone conversations can be tapped, and now they want to force everyone to use e-mail. So it seems that the government will be able to know your every move if they want to.

It wouldn't be hard to play off a terrorist thing in order to get political power over everyone. Hitler did the same thing. Those who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it they say, it's just too bad most people didn't learn.

The problem is that email is ineffective... (0, Insightful)

imagineer_bob (163708) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425514)

People don't read email.


If I want to make a serious inquiry or express an opinion to a company, government agency, or politician, I send a letter.


For even more impact, a Handwritten letter.


Email, being so cheap and easy to send, carries no impact anymore. I hope that people don't stop reading their mail; a first-class letter remains the most effective way of making yourself heard.

Why is this an issue? (1)

jes94 (448876) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425516)

I have sent snail mail a grand total of three times in the past two years. Two of those were to a state government agency. Snail mail is junk mail until proven legit. All the anthrax stuff (which is statistically insignificant) means is that I wash my hands after I have taken my mail out of the mailbox and thrown it into the trash can.

Bah (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425520)

All email will do is replace anthrax spores with ANTHRAX~1.VBS. No, thanks.

Ultimate Fantasy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425522)


My ultimate fantasy has become one of a seemingly impossible hope. As a young gay male, my ultimate fantasy is to get fucked by Rusty of Geekizoid dot com.

Why this person? Because he seems so excellent at trolling, he is obviously a disgruntled, frustrated person -- one similar in emotion to myself. I think that a lot of trolls out there are really self-denying homosexuals; they don't know how to come to terms with their true desires and need a way to take out their frustrated aggressions.

I really think it could work between us. Rusty, if you are hearing me, please give me some way to contact you. I am going to divulge some of the fantasy context further.

First, we shower together, myself taking care to clean us both meticulously. Next, we move to the bed, and I take your cock in my mouth. You move my head with your hands and begin a constant motion. After a few minutes or so, I get on all fours which is met with you ramming your cock into me. You begin a steady flow of movement, occassionally stopping to hug my back with your chest and whisper dirty sentences in my ear. I tighten my inner muscles. You have never felt a sensation like this before and marvel at it's intenseness. The fact that it is being given by someone who truly adores and appreciates you is even more encouraging. I start moving my behind to meet your thrusts. You finally come, crying out, lashing my insides even further. When you have finally pulled out, I stroke your hair, kiss your chest and compliment you on your performance. "I want to be yours, forever."

If anyone knows Rusty's email address, or if he himself wants to surrendor it, I would be ever so greatful.

Damn Anthrax! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2425525)

First they kill metal, now they're killing the mail.

When will the madness stop?

Forms of snail Mail that won't go away (4, Informative)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 12 years ago | (#2425530)

No matter how much you may think mail sent to you on dead trees is outdated, there are reasons the old fashoined mail is not going away for a good long time.
  • Postal mail creates jobs
  • packages - What's the point in all this e-commerce if nobody has anything delivered anymore?
  • Utility Bills - Until some laws are changed you must be provided with an invoice for your purchase and written notification of money owed.
  • Taxes - Like anything done by the government, this ones going to be done the old world way for a long time.
  • Books and periodicals - Some people (myself included) prefer to read anything of great length on paper. Also there is a certain pride in owning a handsome book, admiring the cover as you put it away on a shelf, where you will never touch it again.
  • registered mail - any sort of mail that requires a signature is coming to you the old fashioned way. I know, there's a million technical solutions that would make this work as digital, but your written signature is an important legal tool that people will continue to hit you over the head with forever.

If the day comes when the government says snail mail is going away, watch out. If you think Uncle Sam has opinions about your computer and the software you run now, wait until you see the regulations that will be imposed on email.

One thing that may happen as fallout is small business may get out of the private delivery business. The mail is now going to need to be x-rayed and electronically sniffed. Business such as a Mial Box Express or Joe's overnight delivery are not going to have money for the new array of equiptment that they will be told they must own.

The things that will work to reduce the amount of snail mail - Mail is about to become slower and less reliable. When a pathogen is discovered in the mail, any parcels that may have physically contacted it will need to be destroyed.

People are now uneasy to open a package or parcel they were not expecting. This will make it less likely for advertisements to continue to be sent via mail. Expect to see an increase in Spam, and a relaxation in laws that control it.

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