27 March 2003
Feel the benefit
Ernie Chambers found this on a listserv:
"[H]as there been any discussion about how [Social Network Analysis] may be applied in ways that may have little or no benefit either to the study population or society as a whole? For example, commercial marketers are understandably very interested in this research to improve opportunities to reach potential consumers. But what if this knowledge and technology is used to maximize exploitation, such as selling more things to poor people?"
Mr Chambers answers this way:
If you sell enough stuff to poor people, they won't be poor any more. I arrive at this conclusion based on the common-sense definition of poor, which is roughly: an absence of stuff.
This is not, apparently, the definition being used by the tender-hearted soul on the listserv.
He was using the Leftist intellectual's definition of poor, which is: "someone too stupid to stop buying potato chips and save his money, and who therefore needs 47 different federal programs and massive income redistribution in order to comfortably eat himself into early death from heart disease." The charge to the academic in this field becomes, then, restricting the holy body of knowledge to the worthy saints, who will only use it for good, like studies of the networking activities of one-armed lesbian pacifists, and not for evil, like analysis of how to streamline junk mail so that those "how to grow it" emails only go to people with small penises, instead of me.
While I'm inclined to accept this description as accurate on the face of it, I have one question:
Can I really get a Federal subsidy for a bag of Wavy Lay's?
And as to the question of spam, this entry from The BradLands says it all:
If I had responded to all of the spam e-mail I received in the past two weeks, I would have 350,000 free business cards, 250 miniature radio-controlled toy cars, and would have netted approximately $7.4 billion from assisting various deposed heads of state in securing their rightful fortunes.
Also, my penis would be 56 inches long and I would have seen more than a lifetime's worth of vaginas and boobies.
Not my lifetime, I hope.