On this day in 1938, Orson Welles broadcast his famous "War of the Worlds" radio drama, putting at least part of the nation into a panic believing that Martians were indeed invading Earth.
It wasn't that people were remarkably more gullible at that time, although they probably were. Probably. Many people, however, lived in rural areas without the ability to double-check the facts; telephones were quickly tied up and only one radio station could be received. Although the broadcast began with a disclaimer, it ran for 40 minutes before another disclaimer was read. All in all, the folks in 1938 had a lot of good excuses for believing the show was real.
So, what's our excuse?
Right now in the midst of this anthrax-tainted mail scare, Alfa Medical of Hempstead, N.Y., is ostensibly making big bucks selling steam sterilizers to people with more money than brains. Alfa was onto this marketing opportunity faster than white on rice, proving once more that it is an ill wind indeed that blows no good. And that every cloud has a silver (or gold) lining.
The idea is that steam sterilization will kill the anthrax spores that might be in your mail. Well, it might. Twenty minutes exposure to steam will also make the mail rather difficult to read. But more to the point--how are you going to protect yourself while getting the mail into the sterilizer?
For a mere $525.00 you can get a two-month supply of Cipro from Fiji with no prescription. Of course, even though the site's order page says it is a secure site, there isn't any little lock down at the bottom of my browser. And even though they say they are going to be shipping you real Bayer Cipro, it isn't as though you are going to be able to run them down and complain if you should find out the hard way that it's really Bayer aspirin. Or you might just get nothing at all except your bank account completely cleaned out.
How much more advanced is that than the traveling snake oil salesman? We may be on the Information Superhighway and not the cow trail to the village, but can't they both be the garden path? As P.T. Barnum did not say, "There's a sucker born every minute."