Wednesday, January 03, 2007


So how did I get on this mailing list?

In the first batch of mail I received this year, it included a catalog called "The Great Courses". "One great professor can change your thinking," it states on the cover. "Many great professors can change your life." For as little as $34.95 I can receive a series of 24 half-hour lectures from the"great professors" on a wide variety of intellectual subjects.

I'll admit that this sounds vaguely appealing (if you haven't tumbled to the fact yet, I am one of those odd types who actually enjoy history), yet the idea of buying a collection of college lectures which I will then need to watch isn't appealing. I find that I have little time as it is to do everything I need or want to do. I should have had those woreda articles for Wikipedia finished months ago, for example. Then there are those nagging unfinished chores around the house, like finishing the laundry -- or fixing the latch on the dryer. And lastly, between the choice of watching a DVD series named "Augustine: Philosopher and Saint" or re-read Peter Brown's biography of that famous North African writer, I'm more inclined to reading the book.

And I'd like to know how did my name get on this list? Somehow, I can't help but think this is somehow due to writing articles for Wikipedia. It's been about 10 years since the last time a book (as in literature) catalog found its way into my mailbox. I do have a profile on Amazon, but many of the recommendations the Amazon software makes I end up deleting -- and the rest have been on the list for so long I ignore them. Did someone take the time to screen-scrape my name from Wikipedia, then sift thru their databases to connect my name to a mailing address? It matters to me: the fact they correctly identified my interests in this case is more than a little creepy.

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