Today’s Irony Twofer

This direct mail solicitation from Reason to get me to subscribe to the magazine is ironic for two reasons:

1. That’s not my house they’ve circled there, it’s my neighbors, so if “they” go looking for me there, man, won’t the Harshbargers be surprised!

2. I already have a subscription to Reason magazine, which you’d think Reason would be in a position to know.

Anyway, the real reason “they” know where I am is because I’m in the phone book. I know! Who knew you could still do that? Answer: Me, apparently.

58 Comments on “Today’s Irony Twofer”

  1. Irony three-fer: you blurred out your street address, presumably so as not to reveal it, but then told us you’re in the phone book, and left your town, state, and full ZIP code (including 4-digit suffix) visible. So “they” would be anyone who reads your blog.

  2. They played the same trick a few years ago by custom printing each cover of a certain issue of their magazine in the same fashion. For me, it was more interesting as an example of customizing publications on a per issue basis and made a great conversation piece when I went on my next press check. Yours is a great example of what happens when there is a disconnect in the databases.

  3. Now I know why you keep a camera nearby – to capture the look of surprise on the neighbors’ faces when “they” come for you.

  4. Just so you know, because I wouldn’t want to advertise this myself. But, there is enough info on that map to very quickly locate this exact image in Google. The zip code and cemetery are the real queue.

    Took less than 3 minutes. I say this as a concern, like I said, me as a nobody would not want this level of information out there. You as a well known author probably wouldn’t either.

  5. Bob: The right Google terms will lead straight to John’s address, and it’s on a page linked to from the Whatever front page.

  6. As a well-known Skiffy writer, you’re leaving yourself open to being stalked by legions of hot singers and actresses. Just look at what happened to that Gaiman fellow.

    Just making sure you’re aware of the risk…you put your approximate address on the Intertubes, and before you know it, you have a bunch of Hollywood hotties ringing your doorbell.

  7. Once you are on the interwebinet, there is no escape. Best to just accept your fate.

    I wonder which “they” the magazine means. There are a lot of “they” out there. “They” might have good liquor or chocolate, too.

  8. Yeah, I got the same letter. Problem is, I live on the edge of a large forest, and their map-pin was also off, so I got a picture of trees.

    I kept it around for a while, thinking it should’ve been re-captioned “THEY KNOW WHERE YOU ARE, AND THEY THINK YOU’RE A SQUIRREL”

  9. Re: The blurred address:

    I did it specifically for the cheap irony value.


    Yeah, I’ve not been particularly secretive about where I live. I mean, hell. I named one of my book protagonists after the street I live on, you know?

  10. I’m just curious: who are they, that know where you are (besides Reason)? And what is Reason magazine? I mean, beyond the wikipedia answer “a libertarian monthly journal.” Is it like a Time or Newsweek with specific political bent? Collection of editorial style opinion pieces? I guess I have no real frame of reference here.

  11. @ Richard: Reason cannot be explained. It must be experienced. They do a bit of everything – opinion journalism, investigative pieces, a blog, comics, pop culture reviews, even video documentaries.

    That said, I think Scalzi needs to pass this along to Matt Welch… sort of like the bizzaro blog version of Brazil.

  12. Solicitations for something I’m already paying for has bugged me ever since I got hit up for alumni donations when I was in grad school at the same institution from which I got my undergraduate degree.

    Also, I have discovered that the once place that is allowed to harass you with phone solicitations is THE PHONE COMPANY.

  13. I got the same thing yesterday.

    You seriously subscribe to a magazine whose celebrity endorsement comes from John Stossel?

  14. You want irony? They sent one to the guy who used to live at my place who had died. Ya think they know where he is?

  15. Matthew Ernest@19: I give you one better (or worse): when my Dad died, Mom kept the phone in his name for awhile (there was so much else to do). Then the CEMETERY HE WAS BURIED IN sent us a marketing flier ADDRESSED TO HIM. Mom was incensed. Just ’round the bend. She called them up and pointed out which plot he was in – they took us off the mailing list.

  16. In fairness, the issue in which they originally did this stunt had pretty balanced coverage of why yes, people are probably able to assemble more information about you than you might think; but no, it’s probably no reason to panic and in some ways is a good thing. More balanced, in fact, than most other coverage of the privacy debate that I’ve seen elsewhere.

  17. why yes, people are probably able to assemble more information about you than you might think; but no, it’s probably no reason to panic and in some ways is a good thing

    Because they can then sell you stuff and yay free market? Or because this whole “stalking” and “harassed by your ex-boyfriend” thing never really happens? Genuinely curious.

  18. Now, now. This is nothing compared to the postcard received by my (formerly) male cat a few years ago:

    “Dear Hunter:

    It’s now time for your pet’s feline castration. Please call to schedule….”

    That’s right. The vet sent the cat a postcard reminding him of his appointment to have his little kitty manliness snipped off. Beyond the whole “you’re telling him it’s time for WHAT?” factor, I’ve always wondered why the vet thought the cat could read….

  19. @mythago – like Google buzz creating a situation where the identity of a moderately well known anonymous feminist blogger was made public to her crazy violent stalker ex?

  20. Okay, wait …

    “They know where you are! … but just who are they? [insert scary music here]”

    Well, obviously they’re Reason magazine.

    Excuse me, I’m off to polish my tinfoil propeller beenie.

  21. Ellid @ 31:

    Now, now. This is nothing compared to the postcard received by my (formerly) male cat a few years ago:

    “Dear Hunter:

    It’s now time for your pet’s feline castration. Please call to schedule….”

    Make’s perfect sense to me. Hunter had scheduled his pet — you — for castration. It sounds like the plan backfired on him, but you might want to be careful during future visits to the vet.

    (I always though it was weirdly funny that they call call this “fixing” a pet.

    “Hey, whoa, you don’t need to fix me! I’m not broken.”)

  22. Um, wow, Mr. Scalzi really has an iron fortitude. What Libertarian would not be freaked out by such a personal, creepy (and apparently incompetent) sales pitch? A picture of my (neighbor’s) house? I see the nihilist Republicans are not the only ones prone to using a fear factor (minus Joe Rogan) to proselytize.
    @Bill the S[p]lut, what’s a matter with John Stossel? And this after we just had a lesson about using mustachios to fight crime. Wake up, smell the muck and grab a rake, partner.

  23. Josh @32, why yes, exactly like that.

    WasabiCracker @38, Stossel gave up the muckracking-for-the-common-man shtick years ago.

  24. There must two magazines at the very least, because I strongly doubt you’d be getting the conservative/libertarian one. It’s wacky.

    You’re showing up all boldface on us today. New formatting so we can see you in the snowdrifts?

  25. I like Reason. They try address issues (sometimes in a whacky way). Unlike most publications which focus on bikinis, who’s sleeping with who, etc.

  26. Matthew @ 19 – I got 3 sales-pitch calls from Bell on 3 consecutive days a few weeks ago (exact same offer each time, by the way), and finally told them if they can’t even keep proper track of who they’ve already called, please take me off their promotions list.

    They agreed … don’t know whether that means the law’s different here in Canada, or if it was just recognition that these days there’s lots of companies wanting my phone business. Considering I’ve stuck with Bell for nearly 50 years now, I suspect maybe they’ve actually got (barely) enough brains to recognize and respect customer loyalty.

  27. “I mean, hell. I named one of my book protagonists after the street I live on, you know?”

    You live on Sn street?? This explains several things…

  28. Nope, distinctly boldfaced. And your comments are bold Times New Roman (I’m guessing, it looks serif and standard) while mine are in sans serif.

  29. His comments have been serif for a bit. Font is Cambria, then Georgia (the browser will try Cambria first). No bolding on the style. I suspect a font issue on your end Cassie… or at least a confused browser.

  30. it’s my neighbors, so if “they” go looking for me there, man, won’t the Harshbargers be surprised!
    From past descriptions, your neighbors strike me as both prepared and competent people. I’m betting that the Harshbargers will surprise “them” first. (Bonus points/humor for using household implements or gardening equipment to deliver said surprise.)

    a305w @22: see above.

    froonium @23: Sure. They know he’s interred next to Jimmy Hoffa. *rimshot*

    cassie @26, John @27:
    > > Which Reason magazine do you get?
    There’s more than one?
    ObSnowCrash: Of course there’s more than one. You want to be able to reload, don’tcha?

    Whoever “they” are, I’m sure they will listen to Reason.

  31. @46 Rick who’s not sure who he is ;-)

    No, today is distinctly different in style on my screen than the day before yesterday, when my internet service went down. I’ve never seen John either in serif or in boldface; today he is. Vagaries of browsers works as an explanation if our esteemed host hasn’t been mucking about in the system.

  32. Cassie @49:

    CSS expires
    from browser’s cache of winter;
    comments style:  reborn!

    Or something.

  33. I humbly submit that anyone who has seen the cover of the original version of Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded – or the Photoshopped likeness of our host emblazoned thereupon – has indeed seen John in serif and boldface.

    Those aren’t horns, those are serifs.

  34. I am also a member of the “wrong house” in the map programs club. Which is great, b/c it means anyone trying to bomb my house by using google will miss. Luckily for my neighbors, Google thinks my house is on the pond across the street.

  35. Bearpaw #37 –

    You theory about the Triple Felinoid scheduling me for the, uh, alteration makes sense in a very twisted way….

  36. Google thinks we have a tree in our backyard. We had it removed just to mess with them.

    Reason Magazine isn’t libertarian enough for me.

  37. The biggest Irony here is that Reason Magazine is using an intrusive form of marketing, made possible by your easily-discovered home address, to warn you of the possibility of someone using your easily-discovered home address for some nefarious end, like, I dunno, sending you direct marketing offers.

  38. Goggle satellite view allows me to see the two 4×4’s I recycled a few years ago sitting in my driveway. Good times…

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