Page 20 THE VILLADOM TIMES II • June 17, 2009 own e-mail list. There is nothing in there that is going to destroy my marriage or ruin my superb credit rating, but the number of typos alone could pose a hazard to what is left of my professional career. Just before I wrote this column, I found out they had again contacted me and said that somebody I never heard of was my friend, and offered me instructions on how to use their priceless service. I wrote back, using all my editorial skills to stop just short of a terroristic threat. I think I mentioned the attorney general, the Better Business Bureau, and the Board of Public Utilities, but probably not Hamas or the kokuryukai. Electronically avenged, I started to justify myself to my kids, both of whom had deleted their offer of pictures instantly, when I got a mail rejection notice from the source of all this trouble: “user unknown in local recipient table.” Where’s the fairness here? They can blacken, ever so briefly, the good name of my publisher, who cleared himself in less than a half-hour. They can also blacken the good name of John Koster, which is somewhat less difficult: particularly if one is not averse to lying. Having seen briefly some of the pictures being displayed, none of which were mine, I may, for all I know, have been offered as a killer-for-hire or the booby prize in a dating service and have to suffer the infamy for the rest of my life. Some months ago, an “escort” service in Los Angeles used the photo of Brenda Song, an Asian actress who plays in Disney movies, as an enticement to retain “Hawaiian” girls. Somebody showed Brenda the picture and she took the “escort” service to court and settled for everything they said they could afford. Where do I find these people for similar litigation if they offered me for any of the many things I won’t do for money? Obviously, I don’t find them the same way they found me. The vital principle here is the abuse of human trust and of the right to privacy. The people who run this ridiculous enterprise are obviously in business to turn a dishonest dollar, but the people they annoy could be at risk. My own secrets are pretty innocuous. I try not to be seen penetrating deep discount stores to buy oversized socks and underwear, and stuff like that, but some people may have things to hide that could destroy otherwise worthwhile lives and these people could respond negatively. Busting up the computer, especially when it belongs to someone else, is just the beginning. What if paranoid people get these messages, fostering the delusion they are being watched? I suspect that I am being watched, mostly by people who want to take bets on how tall I am. There is not much else worth any surveillance, but not everyone can say that. We need to defend the Constitution to the last ditch and the last bullet, but I do not think the right to use someone else’s name to solicit business for electronic junk mail is in any way protected by the laws governing freedom of speech. There are a few other people named John Koster. One of them is a state-level politician in the Pacific Northwest and the other is an expert on archaic musical instruments. I do not believe for an instant that this junk e-mail campaign was aimed at either of them and got to me by mistake. Unless this was a plan concocted by my enemies – I know they’re out there – it was probably a seamy rip-off put together by unemployed hackers who are too ugly or weird to get real jobs. I hope they will contact me by name if they object to that description. Be advised that I have been described as “scary” by many people of both genders. When you’re six-foot-seven and walk without swishing, it sort of goes with the territory, even when you have a slight limp left over from the rehearsals for King Lyndon’s Asian Follies of 1967. Sometimes people wave when they see me. Other times, they lock their car doors. Last time my wife and I took a bus tour, people were pulling their kids off the street. “Look out, it’s…” Anyway, it’s a lot safer to annoy me by e-mail than it is in person. The whole point is that people should be free to send and receive e-mail without misuse of their names, or the names of honest people, to spam scam for dishonest dollars. I support the Constitution. I don’t want to subject these people to cruel and unusual punishment. I don’t even want to send them to prison. I just want to send them to bankruptcy court. As one person wrote when I explained the e-mail scam attempt: “May their business fail and their inboxes be filled with spam.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Here is the latest in high-tech scams. While reading through my e-mail, up popped a name very much on my mind: the publisher of my forthcoming book. “So-and-so has pictures for you,” the subject line said. Great! This must be the cover design or the photo package for the book. Ah, foolish me! In an effort to get a look at something I’ve researched for 40 years, I asked somebody who knows computers better than I do how to download these pictures. Little red and white boxes and dotted lines popped up on the screen. When I clicked on them nothing happened. Finally something popped up that asked me for more information. I gave my name, but when they started to ask for my home address and credit data, I stopped the information request. But hope springs eternal. What if I was wrong to be so suspicious? What if the publisher’s sophistication far eclipsed by own – a pretty safe bet, especially where computers are concerned – and he really had something relevant to send me that I just couldn’t figure out? I sent off a hasty e-mail. He got back to me in less than 30 minutes. “Delete it,” he responded. “I don’t know what’s happening -- something strange. Try your anti-virus to be safe.” The circle expanded. Another associate sent this message: “You have pictures for me? What is this spam?! Is that from you?!” Then came the next one: “John, did you send me pictures? I’m very wary of opening e-mails like that because of viruses, so I need to hear from you before I do.” Another message said, “Not sure what you’re sending through ‘tagged’ but I’m not a member and don’t want to sign up. It won’t let me view the message otherwise.” Shortly, I got a call from the office asking why I was sending photos instead of dropping them off in person. They know I’m too much of a caveperson to send a JPEG, whatever that is. Meanwhile, the villains still pursued me and everyone else I had ever contacted by e-mail. I got a message mentioning JT Bolger, and quickly contacted JT to tell him the e-mail was bogus. “Already deleted, thank you,” he responded. Later on, I got an e-mail telling me J.M., 22, is my friend. This could only be a student I tutored four years ago and recently heard from about a job search. I typed out a quick disclaimer. “I did get that e-mail and it was kind of weird, but I resolved the issue so I think I’ll be okay,” came the response. I got an e-mail from a member of a local town council. “Thanks, but I had trouble accessing. What are the pictures?” he wrote. When he heard the e-mail was bogus, he said this was the fifth time he had been contacted. Putting two and two together, I deduced that the crooks who somehow got my publisher’s name had used his name to get me to attempt to open something I though came from a gentleman of honor and integrity and not from sleazes such as themselves. Then they had used the fact that I attempted to open the “pictures” to get at my Don’t get tagged Ridgewood Hip Hop history Orchard School had a wonderful experience with the Hip Hop connection. It was a journey through time via music, showing the roots of Hip-Hop (jazz, blues, soul, funk and rock). The students explored how the world of Hip-Hop can be a positive and uplifting experience. Parking meter fee increases (continued from page 5) argued, at the meeting and elsewhere, that doubling the parking rates during peak business hours was an excessive response to Ridgewood’s key problems. They said there would not be enough revenue and too many cars for the available parking spaces. “The unique thing about Chestnut Street and Oak Street is that there is a very heavy concentration of restaurants, thus there is a pattern of peak demands for parking,” Seiferling said. “I think six months is way too long…Once you get a taste of that money, you’re going to like that money and you’re going to want to keep that money. I think we need to go back to the drawing board.” He asked the council to reconsider the parking plan before introducing or adopting it. But the council members, including Aronsohn, said the problem had been studied enough. Aronsohn said that he and Deputy Mayor Keith Killion had already studied the problem in great detail and, while he himself felt the new fees might be excessive, doing nothing was no longer an option. “I’m not a numbers person,” said Deputy Mayor Killion. “When a CFO tells you you’re going to run a defi- cit…do you take her expertise and just throw it out the window? Do you vote with your heart or do you vote with the decision of the CFO?” Ridgewood Chief Financial Officer Dorothy Stikna had been quoted as saying that even with the plan as now informally approved, Ridgewood would run a deficit for the remainder of 2009, but would experience a surplus in 2010. The parking fee schedule as now in effect, she said, could have led to the bankruptcy of the program and state intervention. The new plan is expected to turn that around. “This is a work in progress,” said Councilwoman Anne Zusy, who voted in favor. Councilman Patrick Mancuso said that what he liked about the 6 p.m. shut-off on the meters is that residents who came to shop and stayed to dine would no longer come out to their cars, find a ticket on the windshield, and vow never to shop in Ridgewood again. The council voted unanimously to defeat a previous ordinance that had been scheduled for its adoption hearing last week, a forerunner to the present revision, but with a different schedule that is no longer a factor in Ridgewood’s campaign to overhaul its municipal parking problem.