Tag Archives: Remarks

A Mass E-mail: Shouts & Murmurs

Courtesy: The New Yorker by Amy Ozols

Dear All:

Before I begin, I’d like to apologize for sending a mass e-mail.

I’m writing because I’ve lost my cell phone, and I’d really appreciate it if each of you could reply to this message with your phone number, home address, and any other pertinent information I might need to get in touch with you. I kept all that information in the cell phone that I lost. I never wrote it down on a piece of paper or in a book, or backed it up on a computer, because cell phones are historically quite dependable, and not prone to getting lost or stolen—at least, not where I come from, a place where there is neither crime nor personal failure. I come from Iceland.

I’d also appreciate it if you could send me your e-mail address. I already have your e-mail address, which I’m using to send the e-mail you’re currently reading, but I plan to delete it from my memory after I’ve finished typing, because I really prefer to keep this sort of thing in my cell phone. I find that it frees up my “brain space” for other important things, like meditation and prayer and comparing and contrasting the prices and features of various cell phones.

If it’s not too much trouble, I’d also like to know your birthday, preferably with the year included. This is so I can send you one of those electronic birthday cards. I’ll send it to your e-mail address, which I plan to enter into my future cell phone before subsequently losing it in a public rest room. So, actually, what would be really helpful is if you could let me know your birthday, then wait three weeks, then send me your e-mail address, so that I can store it in my two-phones-in-the-future phone for use on your next birthday. This probably seems like a lot of work, but I want to assure you that it will be well worth it, because your electronic birthday card will feature music, and dancing cartoon animals, and a not insignificant amount of whimsy. It won’t be one of those tacky electronic birthday cards, where there’s a half-naked person holding a cupcake or an elderly person farting on Father Time.

I assume that it goes without saying that I’ll also need your bank-account numbers, and any PIN or routing numbers associated with those accounts. Of course, I will also need your Social Security number. You have correctly guessed that this is for the purpose of large-scale identity theft.

Finally, please send me your pets. Not pictures of your pets. Your actual pets.

In closing, I’d like to reiterate how sorry I am for sending a mass e-mail. I wish I could have contacted each of you in person—it’s been waaaay too long since most of us have hung out! But, as I may have already mentioned, I plan to lose my new cell phone almost immediately after I buy it, so I really look forward to contacting each of you individually when that happens. Even though I have never met any of you.

Very sincerely yours,

The author of this e-mail

*Sent from my iPhone.

Why Tobacco Kills & How Cigarette Manufacturers ensure New Addicts?

Boston Legal: “Smoke Signals”:

Closing arguments

Michael Rhodes smoked cigarettes for 50 years, got lung cancer and died; we all know what happened here. We also all know this death. Everybody in this room knows somebody who has fought this same battle and dies … agonizing, brutal, excruciating …

But … emotion has no play here. Michael Rhodes was eleven years old when he started smoking, it was 1948. At that time, there was no known risk, and even if there were, at eleven he certainly lacked the capacity to assume it. And after that, he was addicted. They manufacture them to be addictive.

In just the last few years, they’ve increased the amount of nicotine in the average cigarette by 11.6% to make them even more addictive [1]. Recently, we learned that tobacco companies have been adding an ammonia-based compound to cigarettes for years to increase absorption of nicotine [2]. It’s basically the same principle used in crack cocaine.

And let’s look at the obscene strategy they’ve employed here. Smoking may cause cancer, but it didn’t cause this particular cancer. It wasn’t our cigarettes, or it was genetic, or asbestos or a paper mill. Never do they take responsibility ever. And God forbid, if you sue them, they’ll bury you and your lawyer. They might even depose your doctor to death, for good measure. All their insidious methods and cunning corporate tactics aren’t just history, it’s what they continue to do now, today. Because the tobacco industry is like a nest of cockroaches, they will always find a way to survive.

They still go after kids with one strategy after another. They put up brightly colored ads at kid’s eye level in convenience stores. They hire gorgeous twenty-somethings to frequent popular venues and seduce young adults into attending lavish corporate-sponsored parties. Cockroaches will always find a way.

They can’t advertise on TV but they’ve hired PR agencies to hook them up with the film industry. And it’s worked. Researchers estimate that smoking in movies delivers nearly 400,000 adolescent smokers every year [3]. Every time you try to kill the cockroach, it finds another way. It has to, because when you make a product that kills off your consumers, you have to find a way to recruit new customers.

They’ve now got a new feminized version of the macho Camel brand using slogans like “lite” and “luscious” with hot pink packaging. Virginia Slims advertised their “thin cigarette”. Allure Magazine did a whole spread on the cigarette diet [4]. They use social and psychological profiling [5], targeting potential smokers by gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, socioeconomic groups … cockroaches don’t discriminate.

Their CEO comes into this courtroom gloating over their anti-smoking campaign, which is designed to get kids to smoke. In 2003, they spent more than 15 billion on advertising and promotion [6]. That’s a 225% increase from 1998, and they have the audacity to declare they’re trying to discourage smoking. This is not how corporations with a conscience behave.

How in God’s name are cigarettes even legal, can anybody tell me that? They are a deadly concoction of carcinogens that damage every single organ in your body. Why do we not ban them? Because it’s a free country, because freedom of choice is an American ideal worth somebody dying every six seconds? How can any company, especially one with such a conscience no less, knowingly manufacture a product that poisons its users? … and make that product look cool and hip and sexy and fun, so they can get children. How can any attorney defend a company that would do such a thing and how could any society tolerate it, but we do.

There is no conscience at big tobacco. There is no conscience in Washington, which has been bought and paid for by this industry. Conscience has to come from you, the jury. If real regulation is to happen, it has to come from you. People are smoking day after day after day and dying and dying and dying and the tobacco companies keep getting richer and richer. Last year alone, they made 12 billion dollars in profits [7]. How can that be?

How can that be?


  1. Connolly et al. Trends in nicotine yield in smoke and its relationship with design characteristics among popular US cigarette brands, 1997-2005. Tob Control. 2007 Oct;16(5):e5.
    View abstract
  2. How an Unregulated Industry Experiments on America’s Kids and Consumers. American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 2008 Feb 20.
  3. Sargent, J. AAP Handout, October 2006. News release, American Academy of Pediatrics.
  4. Morris, L. “The Cigarette Diet.” Allure Magazine. 2000 Mar.
  5. Ling and Glantz. Using tobacco-industry marketing research to design more effective tobacco-control campaigns. JAMA. 2002 Jun 12;287(22):2983-9.
    View abstract
  6. Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report For 2004 and 2005. United States Federal Trade Commission. 2007
  7. Fortune Global 500 2007: Altria Group.