JOIN THE CREW / GOODTIMES / PENPALS / (what the heck next?)
ALAS, Maybe it's true...
This page was originally published (in December of 1996!) in order to
combat what was then an incredibly annoying and persistent FUD-based
paranoia about not reading a certain e-mail message (FUD: Fear,
Uncertainty, Doubt). However, with the advent of active web content and
web-enabled mail programs, things are not as clear cut as they once were.
It used to be that reading a mail message just entailed putting ASCII
characters on your screen. With all this extra junk, aren't we getting a
little away from the main function of the medium, i.e.,
So here is an excerpt from a presentation I made at work, also some
years ago, on the topic. Read and weep... I didn't touch on the dangers
inherent in ActiveX or Active Desktop or Microsoft Outlook because almost
no-one at work used them at that time. If you are concerned about
security, join a mailing list such as BugTraq.
Security: is "Good Times" now for real?
- The Good Times scare has been around for
years, constantly re-appearing under a new name. Until recently it
was just an unwarranted scare ("don't read any message with
subject 'kumquats'; it'll destroy your hard disk and rot your
- It's now possible for this to happen! (the hard disk part at
(be safe - use NoScript!)
- - if you have an older version of your mail program
- - if your mailer is set up show attachments
"inline" and automatically
(don't do that!)
- In general, consider the
source of an attachment in a MIME message before
reading it into an application. Hopefully, we can trust mail from
within NRAO (but watch for forged headers!). Be careful with
anonymous or free web-based mail addresses such as hotmail, yahoo,
Other Urban Legends
For when someone posts a new virus warning to your mailing list... origin
unknown but it's great!
- Big companies don't do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is not
giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free
vacation. There is no baby food company issuing class-action
checks. You can relax; there is no need to pass it on "just
in case it's true"". Furthermore, just because someone
said in the message, four generations back, that "we
checked it out and it's legit", does not actually make it
- There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in
a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it
happened to their cousin. If you are hellbent on believing the
kidney-theft ring stories, please see:
And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly
issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward
and tell their stories. To date, none have."
That's "none" as in
"zero". Not even your friend's cousin.
- Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if
they do, we all have it. And even if you don't, you can get a copy
http://www.bl.net/forwards/cookie.html. Then, if you
make the recipe, decide the cookies are that awesome, feel free to
pass the recipe on sans the Neiman Marcus story.
- We all know all 500 ways to drive your roommates crazy, irritate
co-workers and creep out people on an elevator. We also know exactly
how many engineers, college students, usenet posters and people from
each and every world ethnicity it takes to change a lightbulb.
- Even if the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) DID contain plutonium
that went to particulate over the eastern seaboard, do you REALLY
think this information would reach the public via an AOL
- There is no "Good Times" virus. (Well, maybe
not but see above) In fact, you should never, ever, ever
forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first
confirm it at an actual site of an actual company that actually
deals with virii. Try:
And even then, don't forward it. We don't care.
- If your
CC: list is regularly longer than the actual
content of your message, you're probably going to Hell.
- If you're using Outlook, Thunderbird, Seamonkey or some other HTML
based program to write email, turn off the "HTML
encoding". Those of us with non-HTML mail programs
won't (or can't) read it, and don't care enough to save the
attachment and then view it with a web browser, since you're
probably forwarding us a copy of the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe
- If you still absolutely MUST forward that 10th-generation message
from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles
of headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 6
months. It sure wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the @#$% that
begins each line. Besides, if it has gone around that many times -
it's probably already been seen.
- Craig Shergold in England is not dying of cancer or anything else at
this time and would like everyone to stop sending him their business
cards. He apparently is also no longer a "little boy" either.
- The American Cancer Society does not get three cents everytime you
send someone else that long letter telling us about someone else with
cancer. Instead of forwarding that, why not go to the US POST
OFFICE and buy a book of special stamps to fight breast
cancer. Don't take my word for it, call your post office and find
out for yourself.
- Chances are if it sounds amazing and too good to be true, and you
learned about it in a mass mail via E-MAIL... It's probably not
Goodtimes will re-write your hard drive. Not only that, but
it will scramble any disks that are even close to your computer. It
will recalibrate your refrigerator's coolness setting so all your ice
cream goes melty. It will demagnetize the strips on all your credit
cards, screw up the tracking on your television and use subspace field
harmonics to scratch any CD's you try to play.
It will give your ex-girlfriend your new phone number. It
will mix Kool-aid into your fishtank. It will drink all your beer and
leave its socks out on the coffee table when there's company coming
over. It will put a dead kitten in the back pocket of your good suit
pants and hide your car keys when you are late for work.
Goodtimes will make you fall in love with a penguin. It will
give you nightmares about circus midgets. It will pour sugar in your
gas tank and shave off both your eyebrows while dating your
girlfriend behind your back and billing the dinner and hotel room to
your Discover card.
It will seduce your grandmother. It does not matter if she
is dead, such is the power of Goodtimes, it reaches out beyond the
grave to sully those things we hold most dear.
It moves your car randomly around parking lots so you can't
find it. It will kick your dog. It will leave libidinous messages on
your boss's voice mail in your voice! It is insidious and subtle. It
is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is also a rather
interesting shade of mauve.
Goodtimes will give you Dutch Elm disease. It will leave the
toilet seat up. It will make a batch of Methanphedime in your bathtub
and then leave bacon cooking on the stove while it goes out to chase
gradeschoolers with your new snowblower.
Listen to me. Goodtimes does not
It cannot do anything to you. But I can. I am sending this
message to everyone in the world. Tell your friends, tell your
family. If anyone else sends me another E-mail about this fake
Goodtimes Virus, I will turn hating them into a religion. I will do
things to them that would make a horsehead in your bed look like
Easter Sunday brunch.
Received From Stefan Chakerian
by way of Rod Falanga, December 1996.
Markup by Pat Murphy (
For more, read this CIAC Bulletin