Tag Archives: email

Just the Tips

Scientists. Smart, but not always so savvy. I recently found myself somehow on the mailing list for the newsletter of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If your organization goes by the acronym PNAS, ought you call your weekly dispatch the Tipsheet?

My introductory email explained that I may “show relevant parts of the PNAS tipsheet” to independent specialists to solicit informed comment. But each tipsheet is “NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE.”

I should hope not.

Oops, I Just Spammed Myself

Fucking technology. I just spammed myself. Look down.

See that post called 19 January, 2011 22:58? I didn’t write that. My email did. My blog host, WordPress, offers posting-by-email. And YahooMail has shitty security. Put those together and you get me spamming my own blog.

I broke the link so you won’t click on it and virusize yourself, but I couldn’t resist keeping the post up. Moral of the story: Fucking technology.

Readability: More than Legibility

Read, here, a letter dated July 1957 from JD Salinger to the hopeful producer of a film version of The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger was known for his cantankerous resistance to over-commercialization of his art. Whether he’d burn all his unpublished works before he died was once a popular topic of cocktail party conversation amongst literati and wannabe-literati alike. (One night I was engaged in such a discussion while sitting in an empty bathtub on a sidewalk in Alphabet City. Doesn’t get much deeper/hipper than that.)

Take a minute with the letter, posted on LettersofNote.com. The tone is fantastic, an expert blend of fluency, insolence and humor. For all his pomp (fully merited) I think Salinger takes a remarkably analytical tack, neither overly-personal nor defensive. And he calls himself “super-biassed,” which is just gold in my opinion. My favorite part, however, comes at the very end:

Thank you, though, for your friendly and highly readable letter. My mail from producers has mostly been hell.

Highly readable letter! This shouldn’t be rare, but it is.

I really try with my letters (which, naturally, are almost entirely electronic). I use full sentences, proper punctuation, capital letters. I aim not to simply write emails, but to craft them. Do I shoot off quickie emails and text messages? Absolutely. But in professional communiques, and even to my closest friends, I typically attempt to express myself clearly and to convey my literal message along with a sense of emotional context, be that enthusiasm, outrage, humor, hopefulness, bleak resignation, what have you. What I write reflects me and whatever cause I’m representing.

Which is why it pains me to read emails that indicate an utter lack of care — or proofreading. It’s embarrassing for the author and disrespectful to me. We don’t have time in our busy days to pen a novella every time we need to write an email, but we can do one another the simple courtesies of carefulness and attention. Maybe from time to time we can pause before hitting Send and ask ourselves, what would JD say about this?

I encourage you to check out more letters on the site, like this vintage gem from the editors at Mad Magazine. Editors, if you’re reading this, I’d love to get a form letter like this instead of being routinely ignored. Just saying.

[Thanks, Cathleen.]

Bulk Mail Bards

Not so long ago we looked at an awesome piece of spam mail that seemed acutely aimed at the Unhappy Mediator’s proclivity for the scientific. Well, yesterday I found myself once again immersed in my junk folder, and the language lover in me was struck by the inventive word choice and unusual rhythms of a handful of emails. They were downright… poetic. Indeed, the subject heads and first lines seemed to form perfect lyrical couplets. Below, a selection that would give even Chaucer a chubby. Shake William’s spear. Thaw Robert’s Frost. Make ee cummings. I’ll stop, I’ll stop.

Sad truth on your size
Potion for heroic banging

Avoid bed-loser’s fate
Love-skill increment

The night is a time to have fun in bed. Make this fun lasting!
Best girl-digging skills

Need your knob up?
Any girl will stay with you

I got a lot about you
In shape for making it?

Harder banging is real
Exploding ardor every night

Want to see her happy tears?
Don’t pay for delivery

High amour degree
Shoot your gin into her vagina

10 seconds and it’s up and firm
Confirm on receiving

Must-Read Email for Flaccid PhDs

Be gentle.

Over the years I’ve received my fair share of ill-targeted spam emails hawking miracle boner tonics. (I don’t possess such apparatus. And if I did, well, it would work, namsayin?) But this one, sent to the Unhappy Mediator’s civilian alter-ego is hilariously apropos:

From: <gueyajcr@stellamccartney.com>
To: gattoitalia
Sent: Sat, December 5, 2009 5:14:49 PM
Subject: Equipment for Don Juans

about graduated cylinder inside particle accelerator slyly uxorious
stalactites ball bearing
and starlets

Nothing gets this Don Juan turned on like talk of lab bench accoutrement, particle acceleration and geology.

What Your Emails Really Say

Gmail was, once upon a time, an invite-only cool kids’ club of early adopters. Today, it is unquestionably the standard for today’s 20- and 30-somethings: personal email for the professionals, and professional email for the pseudo-professionals/freelancers/artists/perennially-unemployed/web-trepreneurs. “Very late-twenties,” as my friend recently put it.

email clipart

But not so long ago there was no Gmail. There was Hotmail. And YahooMail. And before that AOL. Tracing the evolution is like looking at the rings of a tree, or geological strata. The earliest ancestors have died off: you shan’t be receiving anything from the fossils of Prodigy or Eudora. Still, the old guard is adapting, trying to keep up with the cutting edge in electronic letter-writing. Where you stand in the fray may represent as much about you as the clothes you wear, or whether you order hoagies, heroes or subs.

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