Date:         Fri, 23 Jun 2000 01:25:02 -0500
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
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Comments:     Originally-From: Patrick Douglas Crispen

From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
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              TOURBUS Volume 5, Number 103 -- 25 June 2000
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       FIVE YEARS of Searchable Archives at !!
    Interview with a Search Engine / Combat Kit / Needle Hoax
Howdy, y'all, and greetings from balmy Tuscaloosa, Alabama!
Before we start today's tour, I want to remind our Iron Chef fans
("Fukui-san!") that the two-part Iron Chef New York Battle premiers on
The Food Network at 9:00 PM EDT (GMT -5) on Sunday, June 25th.  Iron
Chef Japanese Masaharu Morimoto will compete against The Food
Network's own Bobby Flay.  And, after the battle, The Food Network's
Web site [ ] will host a live, online, tell-all
chat with challenger Bobby Flay.
TOURBUS is made possible by the kind support of our sponsors.  I thank
the folks at "Nextcard Visa," "," and "" for
making today's post possible.  As always, please visit our wonderful
sponsors and thank them for keeping the bus rolling!
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On with the show ...
I know we have talked a lot about urban legends.  Is it just me, or
have these little buggers been popping up more frequently recently?
Anyway, I have a new urban legend I want to squish.  Before we get to
that, though, let's have a little fun.  :)
Interview with a Search Engine
I don't know about you, but I don't particularly like Ask Jeeves
[ ], the popular search engine that lets you ask
questions in English (for example, "What is tomorrow's weather
forecast for the beautiful city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama?")  Ask Jeeves
responds by showing you a collection of questions to which "he"
already knows the answers.
The reason for my dislike is that Ask Jeeves almost NEVER knows the
answer to my questions.  For example, if you ask "what is the name of the
major league baseball stadium in Baltimore, Maryland," Ask Jeeves
replies by pointing you to things like the official Web site of the
Anaheim Angels or to an online store where you can purchase Baltimore
Orioles merchandise.  Not very helpful.  Ask the same question at
AltaVista [ ] and the links you get are much
more ... how can I put this? ... "relevant."  In fact, the first hit
AltaVista gives you is for a page at that tells you
EVERYTHING you could possibly want to know about Oriole Park at Camden
It looks like I am not the only one who realizes that Ask Jeeves
doesn't always work as well as advertised.  Treat Warland at Satire
Wire, an Onion-esque site that pokes fun at the new economy, recently
"interviewed" Ask Jeeves.  Actually, what he did was post interview-
style questions to Ask Jeeves and then screen capture the funniest
responses.  You can see Warland's complete interview on the Web at 
The interview is hysterical -- I was waiting for Ask Jeeves to
respond, Eliza-like, "Are you just saying no to be negative?" -- but I
should warn you that the interview does contain some language that
might offend.  Still, if you are frustrated with search engines and
are looking for a good laugh, Warland's interview of Ask Jeeves is
well worth the read.  :)
Update: Urban Legend Combat Kit
Okay, I've stalled as long as I could.  Let's get to some urban
legends.  (Grumble.)
I've [finally] updated my Urban Legend Combat Kit at .
If you are new to our little bus of Internet happiness, The Urban
Legend Combat Kit is a free collection of canned responses to help you
combat Internet myths and urban legends.  When someone sends you an
urban legend, just cut and paste the appropriate response from my Web
I have rewritten and expanded almost all of the canned replies on the
site, and I have even added a few new ones, including ones that talk
about the "Klingerman Virus," "Asbestos in Crayons," and even the
"Great 'Gas Out' Gas Boycott."  I've also added an updated, canned
reply for an urban legend I have received at least twenty times over
the past week:
The Ubiquitous Needle Rumors -- Updated 22 June 2000
Since early 1998, rumors have been circulating around the Internet
that HIV-infected needles are being left in places such as movie
theatre seats, pay phone coin return slots, and even pay phone
headsets.  Now that gas prices are so high in the United States, some
bozo thought it would be funny to rewrite the needle-prick story to
say that the Jacksonville, Florida, Police Department is reporting
that someone has been placing HIV-infected needles on the underside of
gas pump handles.
Fortunately, you don't need to worry.  The story is yet another
Internet hoax.  In fact, Jacksonville doesn't even have a police
department -- it has a Sheriff's Department (and the Sheriff's
Department has publicly stated that the needles in the gas pump
handles story is a hoax.)
What about the other needle stories floating around the Net (needles
in phone booth coin returns, needles in movie theater seats, and so
on)?  According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), "[t]he majority of these reports and warnings appear
to have no foundation in fact."  In fact, the CDC "is not aware of any
cases where HIV has been transmitted by a needle-stick injury outside
a health care setting."
The CDC recently was informed of *ONE* incident in Virginia
      of a needle stick from a small-gauge needle (believed to be an
      insulin needle) in a coin return slot of a pay phone.  The
      incident was investigated by the local police department.
      Several days later, after a report of this police action appeared
      in the local newspaper, a needle was found in a vending machine
      but did not cause a needle-stick injury.
That's it.  Even if you live in Virginia, that's not much to be
frightened about, is it?
Remember, the CDC -- which has been following the AIDS crisis since
the days the disease was called KSOI -- "is not aware of any cases
where HIV has been transmitted by a needle-stick injury outside a
health care setting."  In other words, the HIV needle prick stories
floating around the Net right now are outright hoaxes.  In fact, the
movie theatre pin-prick story is just the latest version of an urban
legend that was
      rampant in the New Orleans area in the 1930s.  Toothsome young
      girls were told to beware of the Needle Man.  Young ladies were
      strictly instructed to sit at the end of the aisle in
      moviehouses, not in the middle, lest they attract the attention
      of white slavers working in pairs who would sit down beside the
      girl, one on each side, inject her with morphine, and carry her
      out of the theatre and into a life of shame.
      [from ]
That's not to say that there aren't some rather nasty things in movie
theatre seats or gas pump handles.  It is conceivable that someone
*could* put a used needle in either.  But, despite Internet warnings
to the contrary, that just doesn't seem to be happening.
So, ignore the warnings about HIV-infected needles in movie theatre
seats, pay phone slots, and gas pump handles.  If you want to send
your friends a warning that will really help them, forget the movie
theatre/pay phone/gas pump rumors and instead tell them that
      Anyone who is injured from a needle stick in a community setting
      should contact their physician or go to an emergency room as soon
      as possible.  The injury should be reported to the local or state
      health departments.
For more information on this subject, take a look at the CDC's recent
needle rumor press release at .
That's it for this week.  Have a safe and happy weekend, and we'll
talk again next week.
    Interview with a Search Engine / Combat Kit / Needle Hoax
REE-YUBS (noun).  Any of the paired curved bony or partly
    cartilaginous rods that stiffen the walls of the body of most
    vertebrates and protect the viscera
GREE-YUHL (noun).  A cooking utensil of parallel bars on which food is
    exposed to heat (as from charcoal or electricity).
Usage: "Y'all want me to throw some more ree-yubs on the gree-yuhl?"
[Special thanks go to Alan Coburn for today's word]
You can find all of the old Southern Words of the day at 
The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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      Copyright 1995-2000, Rankin & Crispen - All rights reserved
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TOURBUS - 25 JUN 00 - SEARCH ENGINE INTERVIEW  /  NEEDLE UL, viruses, hoaxes, urban legends, search engines, cookies, cool sites
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