Encouraging News: U.S. Cancer Death Rate Has Dropped. Again.
INTERESTING STUFF – 20 January 2018

Crabby Old Lady and Protest/Donation Fatigue

But first – we have a winner in Monday's random drawing for a book of essays by Ursula K. Le Guin titled No Time to Spare. The random number generator spoke and Karin Bendel's name came up.

The book has been mailed off today. Congratulations Karin, and thank you Lynn Lawrence for providing the giveaway book.

* * *

Now for something entirely different – no old age, no cancer, not even a book today.

It probably won't surprise you that Crabby Old Lady has email subscriptions – several dozen of them - to newsletters, announcements and daily mailings from a lot of newspapers, magazines, political organizations, resistance groups and some members of Congress.

They have piled up over the years as Crabby has added new ones she finds along the way and, of course, never deletes any.

At the same time, she has become adept at knowing what she needs to know – so much so that she has learned from experience what information need not be read beyond a headline (if the headline writer is any good) and which newsletters are worth drilling down into for a fuller story.

Nevertheless, Crabby spent a good deal of time this week unsubscribing from some of these missives for one reason: they write scary headlines often in bright red and then supply a link only to a donation or paid subscription page. (A frequent alternative is a request to sign a petition which then begs for money.)

In many cases, this happens from the same organizations every day. Every. Single. Day. And Crabby is fed up. So one-by-one she is ditching them.

She's sorry to do that and god knows she has contributed through the years. But these pleadings never have new or useful information and always imply that they are going to close their doors within a day or two if they don't get Crabby's $5.

For many years now they have been doing this in Crabby's inbox every day. Every. Single. Day.

For all the handwringing that goes on about how trashy the internet is nowadays – whether that refers to the plethora of pornography and various scams among other detritus – Crabby never runs into it. She is interested in news, politics, health and age-related information plus a few minor silly addictions, and she knows where to find them all.

What pisses off Crabby are the political organizations that trade on their perceived righteousness but give no discernable return on their begging for money – certainly no information that Crabby doesn't get on any number of other websites.

So Crabby is gradually cleaning up her inbox and she can't be the only person who, having suffered enough, is giving up their support for just this stupid reason: they overdid it.

And another thing: It's official, says Crabby: there are no longer any news, news-ish and commentary websites known to mankind that do not blast audio – usually attached to video – as soon as the page settles.

Plus, there are so many moving distractions next to the text Crabby is trying to read that she knows it distracts from her full comprehension, not to mention all the many interruptions for commercials between paragraphs of stories made to look like part of the story so, supposedly, she will read them.

Not, as we used to say. She just moves on, deciding that the hassle to read with all the interruptions isn't worth whatever she thought might learn from the article..

Somewhere this week, Crabby saw a headline about a survey of internet users reporting that there is so much distracting “stuff” on pages of the internet that people feel less informed now than before they had the internet.

Crabby didn't read that one either, in this case because the headline said all anyone needs to know about this topic and there is no doubt it is true.

For these reasons and more, Crabby Old Lady is aggrieved at these and all the other awful online stuff she hasn't even mentioned. It has become so hard to use the internet that Crabby is doing a lot less of it these days. How about you?


I got a text message today from a politician I admire, member of a party I vote for, with this message, "Your love is not enough, now I need your support " (read donation). Aaagh, blacklisted his number pronto. This is in Israel BTW - maybe all the pols world-wide are taking the same online course??

Unfortunately the organization I volunteer for (gun violence prevention) is guilty of the constant fundraising emails. However I also subscribe to a daily newsletter called The Trace (free) that only shares news on the topic and nothing else. The ironic thing is that it is published by the same organization! Really good source of up-to-date non-partisan articles on gun violence and worth trying out. There is a weekly digest also if daily emails are overwhelming.

I had typed a response and then hit something that took me out of this box and deleted what I had typed. Essentially I had agreed with everything you say here, and have had far too many similar experiences, especially of the political donation type. I cannot imagine how we are going to get beyond this, but if something doesn't change, we may as well give up the facade of voting and just auction off the offices to the highest bidders. Illinois is currently in another gubernatorial Battle of the Billionaires. Between incompetence, bad luck, and outright corruption, Illinois is in much worse condition than it was when our current governor took office. The man made more than $150,000,000 in 2015, in retirement and only accepting $1 a year from the state for his work as governor. An excellent example, before Trump, of a very successful capitalist thinking he can govern a body of people as profitably as he ran an investment firm or other commercial entities and refusing to acknowledge the damage that's resulted.

That being said, I still like the Internet, and I would have very much liked to have had access to what I have through it today, when I was much younger. If only there were some way to ensure that its power and knowledge would be used for good rather than evil.

Oh, so true. All of it. And the "stuffers" are getting more and more sophisticated, and more and more hard to get past, than ever. Microsoft has the things that scroll up over whatever you're trying to read, which drives me crazy. Can I get rid of them? NO.

Then there are the popups from every direction. I picture programmers sitting in their cubicles day after day dreaming up new ways to do this. Just this morning I went to some site or other to, at least theoretically, opt out of at least some ads. Fat chance it'll work.

Aarrggh! I live on the Web, and will continue to, but thanks for the chance to vent.

Oh yes, Jean, those pop-ups that cover what you're reading. And don't you love the ones that delay closing the pop-up by several seconds (a year on the internet) when you click the X.

I think this is Madison Avenue gone mad. There's a pernicious behavioral science behind all advertising and fund raising and none of us are free from it because it works. Good to raise our consciousness to be more and more selective again Ronni.

I have started to open these emails that I just used to delete, scroll down to the teeny tiny word "unsubscribe ," and click on it. Many of these space wasters don't take NO for a final answer. You then have to enter your email address again. But it feels wonderful to hit SUBMIT and know that soon you won't be hearing from them again. I spent about an hour doing this yesterday and I am going to keep it up until they're all gone. Persistence pays off.

I’m with you, Crabby. I have eliminated several “news” subscriptions and for exactly the same reasons you outline. Every time I do a purge of my emails, I feel liberated. I have also vowed to be a lot more discriminating before I sign up to receive new ones!
Long love this resolve!
And best to you as always.

Here are a few of the ways I try to keep undistracted.

1. Turn the sound off. If for some reason, you want it on, it's easy enough to toggle. Sound 'on' is very rare at my computer.

2. Develop a sort of tunnel vision. Through long practice, I simply don't see the distracting 'headlines' that are inserted within stories I want to read. It can be like a little treasure hunt. But I'm not tickled to death to see these 'headlines' in respected newspapers that are must reads.

3. I have an email address for all political correspondence/newsletters which seems to attract all the politicians begging for money - and oddly enough the dedicated address also attracts a LOT of junk mail. Think those politicians are selling my name? Naw, they wouldn't do that, would they?

4. Those popups? They are fairly new to me and like the others, I find them distasteful. Either I 'contemplate my navel' for a few seconds, or simply close the article in disbelief.

Good to see Crabby Old Lady back in business.

I recently contacted a person who is running for office—called her by phone, believe it or not! She seems like an admirable, first-time candidate, but she is using the same tired methods. “If you care about children’s health...(or social security, or the affordable care act..) sign this petition...” Click. Click. “If you send $5 by midnight, another donor will match your contribution...”

Nothing about her, her proposals, what might happen with this petition. I told her that was a useless ploy.

“But it’s what everyone does,” she wailed. “And I need money for my campaign.”

She had not a clue sbout fundraising. She had only heard that email was a great way to reach people. She didn’t understand how an email might spread the word about her

Did I mention? She’s not even running in my district!

I subscribe to very few sites anymore because of the useless emails. I wonder what the lack of net neutrality will do to the internet landscape. Slow us down if we unsubscribe?

Once again, Ronni, you have put in writing the feelings of many in a way that helps us laugh about those things that irritate and frustrate us. You described my deep frustration with Amazon's movies. There were so many moving ads that I couldn't focus. They just screamed " Shop! Shop! Shop!" when all I wanted to do was find a relaxing movie. I cancelled my membership. I won't even comment on popups.

That being said, I love Google. I wake up at night thinking, "I wonder...." Knowing I'll be able to Google it in the morning. Oh to have had Google when I was in school (sigh).

Again, another phenom: Internet Advertising or "the curse of the Internet"!

I spent 14 years with a Swedish corporation that developed the digital cellphone as we all know it today. One of their future offerings to the public at large was among other many useful features such as Bluetooth was 'Internet Advertising'; or, as the industry knows 'IAD'.

I sat in Sweden trying to convince them the typical American would abhore these intrusions and never, ever, go for it.

Then came NetZero, free internet if you are willing to watch the ads . . . and the rest is history.

Turns out Americans now do love ads . . . (but that is still their opinion)

I'm with you, Crabby! If they are, even, supposedly, of my persuasion, and they are trying to scare me, or get my money, they're toast. They got some of my money at the beginning, but it's never ending. As for current politics, tell me the facts, and I'll make the call or send the e-mail, but try to terrify me, and you're in the trash.

I do enjoy the web for information, buying books, a bit of entertainment, and this blog. Love this blog.

Knowing the ads are what keep the websites available, I tolerate (barely) the ones that get past my Adblocker. And I usually have the sound turned off. What annoys me most are the paywalls. I can get around them if I really, really want to read an article, but it's a real bother. Still, those websites have to find a way to generate income. So I endure it all. I want my news, and I want the providers to keep providing it. I don't expect them to care that I can't pay for subsciptions to all the different news sites that I read. I do get annoyed when the ads are always the same because cookies have tracked me from my browsing/shopping activities, but deleting the cookies puts a stop to that. Of course, that's yet another time waster for me.

Does unsubscribing work? I thought that was how advertisers or politicians determined that you were still alive and able to click a mouse.

I agree with sflichen. I delete lots of stuff without reading it and UNSUBSCRIBE.

I love the internet, though. I am inspired and learn from my photographer friends and FB groups. Also re-learn important info about living with a brain that has been hit a lot. And macular degeneration. And lots on nature and science.

I can't stand the arguing voices of both parties. Reminds me of my parents. I've been playing Pandora to hear calming music.

Yes, unsubscribing usually works. It may let the senders know I'm alive but it also lets them know I won't be sending any money. I tell them as much if there's a comment line. For some reason most seem to lose interest. . .

The worst outstretched-hand offenders are politicians and charities (not surprising). There are solicitations at the end of so many stories these days--print, TV, internet. I'm experiencing serious donor fatigue, and we aren't even at the midterm elections yet. I get emails from politicians in other states, and while I know it's vital to change the makeup of Congress, I can't contribute to every campaign, or even most of them. If I gave to every charity I get email from--even the legitimate ones--I could soon need their services myself.

My audio is almost always off. I find it difficult to understand why purveyors of whatever they're selling think people can be persuaded to buy through forced viewing/listening to ads. Often I simply leave the site, and I think others may as well.

I've done some unsubscribing this month with more to come.

I agree with you 100%, Ronni, and many others who commented. I do question, though, how many of the unsubscribes get honored, despite their responses. I spend an hour unsubscribing, and they just seem to keep on, plus the next day there are that many new ones! I can't win.

Before I went walking in Spain last summer, I unsubscribed from almost everything that came through my email in June and July. I didn't worry I would miss anything, since I would be offline except of select major media for weeks. This cut my email volume by 4/5s. It worked.

And I figured that the ones I wanted back would pass through my notice and I'd get hooked again when I wanted them. And they have recurred. I did like that empty mailbox.

I mostly surf with an adblocker and forgo sites that ask me to turn it off. I also surf with sound off to blunt the damn videos. Browsers ought to give to the ability to prefer that no video play without our permission, but as far as I can tell, they don't.

Before I went walking in Spain last summer, I unsubscribed from almost everything that came through my email in June and July. I didn't worry I would miss anything, since I would be offline except of select major media for weeks. This cut my email volume by 4/5s. It worked.

And I figured that the ones I wanted back would pass through my notice and I'd get hooked again when I wanted them. And they have recurred. I did like that empty mailbox.

I mostly surf with an adblocker and forgo sites that ask me to turn it off. I also surf with sound off to blunt the damn videos. Browsers ought to give to the ability to prefer that no video play without our permission, but as far as I can tell, they don't.

I have been doing the same thing. My junk file every day is huge and when I'm in the mood, I take the time to unsubscribe. What a pain but so liberating! I find myself getting so tired of the political craziness. Yes to the quiet of many previous presidents!!!

I tried unsubscribing, but new sites pop up daily from organizations and politicians wanting a donation. I feel like they have a "sucker" list they send out to everyone running for office.

My daughter taught me a trick. Go through your e-mail and star the ones you want to read. Use the option to check all the others and then delete all with the exception of the starred emails. Even so, it's a pain that takes time and at the end of the day I have around 200 + emails in my trash folder and when the end of the month and fund raising reaches a fever point I have over 300. Arrrgh!

Since others seem to have had good luck unsubscribing maybe I should take a day to unsubscribe from all of them at once and maybe that way I can stop the daily frustration. If I keep at it I may be successful, too.

Sounds like a plan. I think I will start now while I am motivated.

I signed a petition for the Nature Conservatory and now can't unsub their emails. I'll never sign another petition! Never. The unsub link is not clickable.

My husband is never on the internet but he is getting emails from the American Legion with coins and address labels and who uses all those labels that doesn't write? His dementia keeps him from remembering he once belong to a local post.

After I read this blog, I did a bit of googling for the browser I use: Chrome. And luckily, you can download and install a free app that STOPS videos from automatically playing! I'm using it now, and so far, so good. Just go to the Google app store and put in the search terms such as "stop playing video." I would put a link here, but I know links are frowned on.

I also turn off the sound, which helps a lot.

As for the begging emails -- it is VERY annoying to think you're filling out a survey and then get to the end of it, and without recording your response, it asks FOR A DONATION. Almost seems like a scam, though I know politicians and the supportive websites need money. Still, it would help to be honest and direct about the survey, instead of wasting someone's time.

I get overwhelmed with the task of trying to unsubscribe from emails -- only to be on that site again, and there goes a popup (asking you to subscribe) that you have to search around to click out of to continue reading the site. And now, if you have a pop-up and/or ad blocker, a big box comes up and says: "YOU HAVE TO TURN OFF YOUR AD BLOCKER TO READ."

I can actually remember back in the late 90s when there were few, if any, ads or commercial internet. However, even with all the aggravation, I still LOVE the internet -- mainly, like others have stated, for the ease and availability of information. I well recall having to make a trip to the library for any kind of research. I now almost exclusively read ebooks, because print books strain my eyes badly. I can enlarge text on the Kindle Fire, and there's no end to the free novels you can get via discount ebook newsletters. I'll never read all I have, but can take them all wherever I go.

I just hope the end of net neutrality doesn't up-end and ruin our access to information -- but fear it might.

Love reading your blog Ronnie. Interesting reading without all those popups.
Cara, thanks for the stop playing video tip!!

Ditto on unsubscribing on lots of annoying messages. I do have one thing to tell you about your webpage. I read it on my iPhone or tablet which may affect how it works but when I want to post a comment and click on the underlined link at the bottom of your blog I am redirected to another copy of your blog + all the previous comments before getting to this lovely box which also has my information attached (very nice). I would rather the link led me directly to this box instead of the long scroll through previously read material and other’s comments on same.

That's the way it is supposed to work. A new page loads with the story and the previous comments - then the box for you to comment at the bottom. If it didn't load that way, you would lose your comment if you needed to click back to check something you want to reference in the story or a previous comment.

Not to mention - to everyone who regularly sends similar missives about how you want the design changed - that I pay good money to have a reliable blog host for you who supplies, in this case, an excellent basic layout that I can (and do) modify for myself. But these basics are baked in.

You get the same comment behavior at The New York Times and just about every website that allows comments. I'm sorry you find us lacking to your needs.

Question for Cara? If I install the app on google to stop playing videos, would it also stop videos from Interesting Stuff, that I do want to watch?

Two things that work for me:
1=turn off the speakers
2=when you can't close a page (e.g.can't find the X) press Alt +F4.

When asked for your email addy be creative.


Thanks for reminding us - or me, anyway - that there's an army of readers of web pages, blogs, newsletters blah blah blah with this same problem. When I very recently finally got to the point described by several commenters where reaching for the delete button turned to hunting for the unsubscribe button I was absolutely euphoric. And then I started running into sites without an unsubscribe option, so when my inbox is a manageable size again I suppose I'll have to hunt for other ways to reach these "unspeakables". In the meantime how supportive to read your comments on being able to find out everything you need to know without being chained to someone else's idea of what that should be.

Certainly can agree with your complaints. Have been able to avoid many of those annoyances as never sign petitions which I long ago concluded could be exploited to be phishing expeditions for those private compilations of personal data on each of us including for future dunning. I keep tack of sites in other ways that I wish to revisit, allowing me to easily revisit at will, and have subscribed to very few— may even unsubscribe to them as $$$ solicitation is increasing. I’ve never subscribed even to any bloggers I follow frequently either. Rules and privavy matters frequently changing, social networks, especially FB, notorious for their priorities — personal vs commercial.

I sometimes wade through sites to read an article, ignoring the increasing ads it can be tricky to avoid clicking on, but often just skip the article sooner than I might have otherwise. Excessive commercialization is everywhere, not just on the Net — horrendous on TV — do advertisers honestly believe people pay attention to so many commercials one after another? Boy have they been sold a bill, of goods!

I hoot with laughter when i receive ads for the same product I’ve recently purchased (I don’t buy much) off the net — items no one would want more than one of. Are they nuts — I want more? I look up diseases a patient has, or I hear about and am curious about and suddenly I’m bombarded with med sources. I wish they’d stop trying to read or predict my mind as doing so may be their goal but I’ll resist their doing so with every fiber in my body. That’s not what I want from technology! Will be a challenge to harness AI to keep humans in charge of our own destiny.

Googles search disappointingly isn’t as expansive or unbiasedly informative as it once was either, seems to me as I’ve noted in numerous ways in recent years. One such example in the commercial arena, on a recent occasion, occurred when I thought I could quickly locate with a category search a specific long time area business, one of the best — I would recognize their name. Though they were well known and I had a record elsewhere of them from previous use their name had momentarily escaped me. Surprisingly it failed to appear on the referral search list or in any links on the rest of the page or several following pages. Recalling their name later I phoned them to schedule a service appointment. In the process I engaged in a conversation expressing my surprise their business wasn’t listed among all the businesses in my search given their longevity and high reputation, though they have a prominent attractive informative site if their name is searched. It was explained to me the whys wherefores and $$$ reasons, hits — why they perceive Google leaves their business out of the prominent search. Based on their explanation, I don’t think it’s in the prospective consumers best interest they’re not in that search, which makes Google Search even less informative than the old yellow pages phone book. At least with the old telephone book yellow pages the businesses would be listed and some who desired could also purchase additional ads of varying size. (I generally steered clear of hiring those with the biggest ads.) It can only get worse without the protections for network neutrality.

I've spent the past few weeks in bed, recovering from pneumonia and have also been deleting most of the begging lobby groups and PACs from my emails.

I only keep a few local ones who I really support with more than money.

After the election, the groups became more predatory IMHO, and insist I give $3.59 in order to save Social Security or Planned Parenthood.

I used to write a reason in the "Why are you unsubscribing ?" space, such as I already donate monthly, but that didn't slow down the flood of emails.

I donate monthly to Planned Parenthood and our local Senators and Congresswomen who I support. Even to a couple of Women Senators in other stares, who I think may be viable presidential candidates in the next election....I've always done this and am happy to give a little when I can.

I'm with you Ronni. We on Social Security can't give money to every single 'good cause' out there.

Elle (cough cough)

I'm with you Ronni. I may do what a friend recently has done, removed all the apps from her smartphone to stop the madness during her "out" times and then surf at leisure on her desktop at home.

It is a constant barrage and many news sites I respected have gone into machine gun mode with the ads. I feel assaulted.

There has to be a better way for them to fund themselves rather than generating this anger in former subscribers.


I use AdBlock on Chrome. It is free and wonderful. No ads, no pop-ups, no cost. I know links here are frowned on, but it is easy to google.

I don't mind the constant solicitations, etc. I just delete them. I think this is partly a result of the kind of society we've built. It costs zillions of dollars to fund political campaigns that go on forever. This is nuts! Campaigns should be limited to 8-12 weeks. Political ads should be banned.

Charities should not have to beg for money. The ones for vets really disturb me. Veterans in particular should not need any private donations for medical care or other assistance. This is why we pay taxes. This is why I despise tax cuts. Cute little disabled children should not be paraded across our TV screens. Their medical care should be paid for. In a just and compassionate society, it would be.

I have very little money these days. I live on Social Security. So I can no longer contribute to the causes I believe in and it makes me sad. But I do not begrudge organizations for trying. The need is endless and nothing beats a failure but a try.

Preach it! I no longer open the emails, just send them to trash. Eventually they seem to get diverted there automatically.

I have determined to never sign another petition, which have no effect except to build mailing lists. I will never send money based on emails, either.



Pax vobiscum, dear Ronnie!


I agree completely. I read that while Democrat candidates are getting money the party isn't. I wonder why. Do you suppose it could be the daily email requests for donations?

Most of the information is recycled all over the place with a different bow and package to bait one into clicking on the article. We are on information overload and our body, mind and spirit is paying a hefty price for all the nonsense that crosses our path during the day.

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