TOURBUS: Thursday, December 5, 1996
DRIVER: Patrick Crispin
Urban Legends and Viruses

One of my favorite things about TOURBUS is that we not only talk about neat stuff on the Net, we also occasionally talk about some neat non-Net-related stuff as well. For example, back on November 21st (TOURBUS -- 21 NOVEMBER 1996 -- HISTORIC EVENTS AND BIRTHDAYS) I told you that Sir Samuel Cunard founded the Cunard/White Star Line, the company that owned the RMS Titanic and that still owns the Queen Elizabeth 2. Well, it turns out that I was not entirely correct. According to Graham Dodd, a TOURBUS rider in Australia (the *DEEP* South)

     Cunard never owned Titanic.  Cunard Line was in opposition to
     White Star Line up until the 1920's when it -- eventually -- took
     over.  Titanic was built in 1911, launched 1912 and sunk that
     same year.  The only "connection" between Cunard and Titanic is
     the fact one of the Cunard Line ships is known for going to the
     rescue -- namely RMS Carpathia.  Nor did Cunard, therefore, have
     anything to do with Titanic's 2 sister ships -- since the
     Britannic sunk during WW1 in the Mediterranean and the Olympic
     went to scrap before or near the same time as that final take-
     over by Cunard.
A couple of TOURBUS riders also noticed that in my last post (TOURBUS -- 28 NOVEMBER 1996 -- SPAM!) I wrote
     [I]f you receive an e-mail letter that asks you to forward the
     letter to others, the only person that you should forward it to
     is the sender's postmaster
and then I ended that post with
     Send this copy to 3 friends and tell them to get on the Bus!
The only explanation for my apparent duplicity is: DRUNKEN SQUIRRELS MADE ME DO IT! According to an article sent to me by Allen Agnew
     Wildlife officials [in Lexington, Kentucky] are coping with a new
     dilemma: Large numbers of obnoxious squirrels that sneak into
     whiskey distilleries, eat the fermented grain --- and get roaring

     Citizens report hundreds of the long-tailed rodents reeling and
     staggering across the roads of rural Kentucky.
Anyway, with both of those mistakes now corrected (or at least explained), here is a quick message from the folks who were kind enough to make today's TOURBUS post possible. Make sure that you stop by and thank them ... and mention that the drunken squirrels sent you!
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In light of my recent TOURBUS posts about spams and urban legends, I have two Web pages that I think y'all might be interested in. Our first stop is the semi-official Urban Legends archive at

By the way, make sure that you make "urbanlegends" plural -- if you try to go to "" you'll end up at a really boring "under construction" sign.

Anyway, for those of you who may not know what urban legends are, they are stories that

  • Appear mysteriously and spread spontaneously in varying forms;
  • Contain elements of humor or horror (the horror often "punishes" someone who flouts society's conventions);
  • Make good storytelling; and
  • Do NOT have to be false, although most are. ULs often have a basis in fact, but it's their life after-the-fact (particularly in reference to the second and third points) that gives them particular interest."
The best example of an urban legend is the "Craig Shergold" story that we have talked about before (Craig's the kid who supposedly is dying of a brain tumor and who wants to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most cards ... only he is CURED and he DOESN'T WANT ANY MORE DARNED CARDS!). Another popular urban legend, at least here in the states, is that that "Mikey" kid from the Life cereal commercial died from eating Pop Rocks. Both stories are false, but the Craig Shergold story is a pretty good example of how some urban legends often have a basis in fact. Craig was once ill, and he once wanted cards ... but that was YEARS ago.

Anyway, back to the urban legends archive. I'm not sure how to describe this homepage, other than to say that it is an absolutely *HUGE* archive of information about pretty much every urban legend around. From "alligators in sewers" to "Walt Disney on ice" this page chronicles everything!

The main urban legends archive has 22 different categories, ranging from "Animals" (animal urban legends) to "TV" (I think you can figure out what that one is all about). Most of the archive's categories are pretty self-explanatory, except for these two:

     - "AFU."  AFU stands for "alt.folklore.urban," a usenet newsgroup
       dedicated solely to the discussion of urban legends.  As a
       matter of fact, almost all of the articles that can be found in
       the urban legends archive come from AFU.

     - "Book Reviews."  This category is not about the discussion of
       urban legends surrounding book reviews.  Rather, it is a
       collection of reviews about the various urban legend books that
       you can purchase at your local bookstore.
The other 20 categories are pretty straight-forward. For example, if you click on the "Collegiate" category, you are taken to a page that contains articles about such urban legends as "one word exams" and the "pennies for college" scheme. [By the way, since my finals start next week, if any of you can convince my professors to each give me "one word" finals, I will be eternally grateful!]

Our second stop on today's tour of our little bus of Internet happiness is a site that my father (the Rev. Bob "Bob" Crispen) told me about when I was at home last weekend, eating turkey for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Since so many of us are absolutely terrified about the possibility of getting virused by the Net, and since there are so many virus hoaxes floating around the Net right now that even the most level-headed of us has to be at least a little bit leery, I am please to announce that there is now a page on the Web that addresses -- and debunks -- almost every virus story floating around.

The Computer Virus Myths page can be found on the Web at

If I were King of the Internet (instead of being what I am now: the global village idiot), I would make it a law that every single person on the Net visit this page. Actually, I would probably tell everyone to jump straight to the "Read all about computer virus myths" subpage at

If you want to become a resident expert on everything there is to know about viruses, this page is for you! This page explains, in simple English,

  • How viruses really work,
  • The difference between viruses and trojan horses,
  • How you can and can not get a virus,
  • Why you can't get a virus or a trojan horse from a plain old e- mail letter, and
  • How most virus stories are either absolute hoaxes or are entirely overblown.
Again, if you are looking for a really good insider's look at the TRUTH behind viruses and trojan horses, I can't overemphasize how important it is for you to visit the Computer Virus Myths homepage.

That's it for this week! Have a safe and happy weekend ... and watch out for drunken squirrels!

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TOWEE (noun).  Things that children play with.
Useage: "We bought our grandchild a new towee."

(Special thanks goes to Bob James for today's wurd.)

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