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Whoops, there goes the political career!
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by Kass Johns (published May 1996, for WWWiz Magazine )
I recently discovered a web site that could spell doom for all of us! Aspiring for political office? Better what out what you say in public messages on the net! Turn your browser to http://www.dejanews.com/ --the Deja News site will search for all references for a given word string or e-mail address within any newsgroup on Usenet. I was goofing around by looking myself up to see if it had recorded some of my posts to Usenet. I was pleased with how thorough it appeared to function.
I was telling a buddy of mine about the discovery of this site. I decided to look up his name to see what he had posted on Usenet. His name is a somewhat common name (no, I won't tell you what his name is!). So, I put a search on his name. Now, I know his email addresses and so quickly realized what I turned up was not from him. Somebody with the same name as his has a CompuServe account (unlike my friend) and this other guy was quite vocal in leaving messages in a bi-sexual newsgroup!
I immediately called my friend and told him what I had discovered. After his screams of shock subsided, we realized what fun this could be to look up friends, famous folks and so on. Not only come back to bite someone who does leave messages, but what about the poor souls who have the same name as someone else? I assume it is just a matter of time before all those reporters from those tabloids realize the resource in search engines like this!
Well, not being one to let a valuable opportunity for humor go to waste, I decided to look up a few famous folks...
I started out with my trusty copy of "E-mail Addresses of the Rich & Famous" by Seth Godin. By searching on exact e-mail addresses, I found I was limiting my search. Most of the searches of political names with real e-mail addresses revealed (gosh!) legit posts! (how boring) It was time to change my strategy. I decided to go with first initial/last name with the @ symbol. Otherwise a search on "Bill Clinton" revealed over 35,000 hits on posts mentioning him in the body of the post.
I started with bclinton@. I quickly revealed that he has evidently been missing episodes of "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place!" Or so, his messages in alt.tv.bh90210 and alt.tv.melrose-place seem to imply! (As Bill Clinton is a prime target for childish pranksters, there were many other messages left in various tasteless groups.)
A search for other candidates revealed nothing. I was bummed--nothing funny or wild from bdole@, pbuchanan@, sforbes@. I also searched on ngingrich@, bgates@ and rperot@. Then I went for bwalters@ and drather@. Nothing--unless you count the stuff I found indicating that Barbara Walters was testing software and in need of a visa physical exam. Gee, how hard is it to get a yuk at someone else's expense?! (Sheesh!)
So, I went for some other celebrities... A search for jkirk@ (of Enterprise fame) revealed that he is a Monopoly fan, hanging out in the comp.ai.games newsgroup. He is also into Pascal programming and has a sleep disorder (alt.support.sleep-disorder)! Maybe from all-night programming? The famous bad-acting "babe-magnet" has apparently turned into a stay-at-home Monopoly-playing programmer who can't sleep! Now, ya know! Nothing came of my search on picard@! Gee, ya don't suppose that he may be a bit busier than Kirk?
It turns out that Santa (email@example.com), may need help hooking up his VCR. He seems to favor rec.video.cable-tv for his information. I s'pose the guy has to have a hobby in the off-season. Maybe it's to review that Tim Allen movie again--the one where Santa dies! I think we know what Tim will be seeing in his stocking for many years to come!
A search on Santa's helpers, firstname.lastname@example.org, showed no hits. Obviously, we know who is doing all the work and doesn't have time to surf the net in this corporate sweatshop!
I found dvader@ (of "Luke, I'm your father..." fame). He seems to be into fantasy role-playing games (alt.fan.dragonlance). Excuse me, isn't your life a fantasy, guy? Let me suggest some reality groups for you. It might be a nice change, maybe meet a nice girl, settle down... (Vader, baby, can we talk?)
mmouse@ seems to be into music and autograph collecting. Also, a few posts in alt.video.laserdisc leads me to suggest that mmouse might want to give Santa a jingle (sorry, bout that one). They could probably help each other with their video systems! Do you wonder what kinds of movies these folks might watch to escape their reality? Maybe stuff like JFK, Nixon, Apollo 13?
I leave you with the idea, now go, entertain yourselves! And, if you are a reporter for a tabloid rag or tv show, I just handed you another source of information to be misinterpreted. And for all the rest of us, if you might ever seek public office or anyone in your family might ever seek public office, be careful out there... thanks to the web, we're watching!
© Copyright 1996-2001 by Kass Johns, all rights reserved world wide.
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