Wednesday, November 15, 2006


My degree is in Anthropology, and my related studies delved into archaeology as well. My favorite study in that field was that of pseudoscience and pseudoarchaeology. The "scientists" who say that certain Inca carvings show that they had space travel and communicated with aliens; that the Mayan pyramids prove that the Egyptians sailed the ocean long before common science says humans did, and taught them how to build pyramids. While some of it sounds silly, there's plenty of pseudoscience that's quite damaging, that people believe wholeheartedly, such as the "science" behind many Creationist arguments. I digress. When one of my favorite professors was introducing us to the subject, we read two 'articles'. One described an archaeological site found 2000 years from the present. It was thought to reveal a ritual site at which some highly socially ranked individual was making a sacrifice. Of course it was obvious to us that it was a frat boy hugging a toilet. The second article purported to use mathmetical equations to show that if everyone kept saving their issues of National Geographic, the earth would eventually not be able to stand the added volume, and there would be grave consequences. I wish I could find the joke-article, so I could remember what all was going to happen. A change in the gravitational pull of the earth? Tidal waves, earthquakes, eventual collapse? I want to know, because I'm afraid it might happen--not with National Geographic magazines, but catalogs.

I don't know where they all come from. Some I have actually ordered from, and they're fine. Others I've ordered from and I get two or three catalogs from because they have my name misspelled or un-hyphenated, etc. Others seem to think that they need to send me a catalog every week in case I've lost mine. Some are connected behind the scenes. I order from a toy catalog and come to find out that the clothing catalog and home furnishing catalog I receive are owned by the same company. I would have to guess at where all of the liberal catalogs got my name--there are plenty of suspects. I'd like to know who sold my name to Pottery Barn, Pier One, L.L. Bean, Land's End, and a myriad of home furnishing catalogs, which started showing up in our mailbox shortly after moving into a new subdivision. The mortgage company? The home builders? Who was it? Regardless, I'm receiving about a dozen catalogs every day now. I go through the rigamole role of sorting through them, making piles of "Might Order From", "Approved and Just Like to Look at", "Already Unsubscribed", "Must Unsubscribe". I can only handle 2-3 removal requests at a time. I have to jump through hoops, and the response is always that catalogs are pre-printed, and I'll receive 2-3 more catalogs before they stop. Just enough to get me through the holiday season I suspect. So far I've resisted giving in too much to the advertising aspect of it. Even with "Free Shipping!" and "$10 off your $65 order!" I've remained fiscally solvent, which is quite an accomplishment for me.

Besides the advertising being shoved into my mailbox, the environmental aspect bothers me immensely. There are only one or two of the two day haul pictured above that are printed on recycled paper. What a waste, to picture the resources that went into that catalog, and that's duplicated across the country. It's shameful. Of course I recycle all of my unwanted catalogs, but I'm nosy and can't help but wonder what my neighbors do with theirs. Do they buy that pig shaped casserole dish, which they never knew they needed so much? Do they suscribe to the wine of the month club? Do they order the Super-Low-Price toys without a second thought to why they're Super-Low-Price? Perhaps scariest of all, do they recycle them? Or do they pile up in the back room, collecting dust, moving towards the day when the piles of sheeted ink will cause Earth's gravitational fields to shift?


Anonymous said...

You might try the Direct Marketing Association's "Mail Preference Service" (i.e. "do not mail" list).

It has reduced our junk mail a fair bit since we signed up.

Mia said...

We have tried this in the past. I don't know that it's intentional, but we continue to get lots of stuff with names mis-spelled, for a number of reasons. My name is hyphenated, so we get all kinds of variations on it. Beo likes to spell his name differently when he signs up for certain things, so that we can track the mailing list sales. (Grocery "loyal shopper" type cards sell your name left and right from what we can see.) Maybe someday I'll go through and enter every variation of our names that we get.

Beo said...

Love the post title!

The fact that I inadvertently created 5-6 different names tied to our address, thus causing us to have sometimes 2-3 of the same magazine show up is unfortunate and unexpected. Given the cost of these magazines one would have thought that the senders would enure only one went to each address.