"Christians And The Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 3, No. 14:  November 28, 2002
_______________________________________________________________

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION: NEW BIBLE TRANSLATION ONLINE!
2. MORE ON MACHEN: BIOGRAPHY, BIBLIOGRAPHY, & PERSONAL LETTERS
3. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?: CATI NEWSLETTER GOT SPAMASSASSINATED!
4. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER
_______________________________________________________________

The latest revision of this issue of "CATI" can be accessed
online at http://traver.org/cati/archives/cati77.htm.  The
Web page edition makes it especially easy to visit the links.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2002 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  See
the end of this issue for more information on "CATI."
_______________________________________________________________

1. ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION: NEW BIBLE TRANSLATION ONLINE!

[Even if you are not interested in the ESV, you may find this
article useful because of its references to Web sites you may
find of interest:  Bible Gateway, the Bible Research site,
The Discerning Reader, and Matthias Media.]

It would seem that "Of the making of Bible translations there
is no end."  For that reason, even though the English Standard
version (ESV) originally appeared a year ago (October 2001),
I paid little attention to it.  After all, we already had/have
the King James Version (KJV, also known as the Authorized
Version or AV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the
New International Version (NIV), and the New King James
Version (NKJV).  Do we really need another translation at
this time?

Well, I've gradually come to the conclusion that the English
Standard Bible (ESV) is worthy of notice, whether or not we
decide to make it our primary translation.  And online you
will find not only reviews of this recent translation, but
also the entire ESV Bible, including headings and footnotes,
so that you can explore it yourself and come to your own
conclusions accordingly!

Here are two sites where you can access the entire text for
the ESV:

ESV: Home Page
  http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/

Bible Gateway: Home Page
  http://www.biblegateway.com/

Each of the sites has a special page for "Advanced Search":

ESV: Advanced Search
  http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/

Bible Gateway: Advanced Search
  http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible

Incidentally, note that the Bible Gateway site offers access
to fourteen different English translations:

     AMP  -  Amplified Bible
     ASV  -  American Standard Version
     CEV  -  Contemporary English Version
     DARBY - Darby Translation
     ESV  -  English Standard Version
     KJ21 -  21st Century King James Version
     KJV  -  King James Version
     NASB -  New American Standard Bible
     NIV -   New International Version
     NKJV -  New King James Version
     NLT  -  New Living Translation
     WE  -   Worldwide English (New Testament)
     WYC  -  Wycliffe New Testament
     YLT  -  Young's Literal Translation

Of the preceding, the ones I use most frequently (and also
recommend to others) are KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, and (more
recently) ESV.

On the Bible Gateway site "Passage Lookup" and "Word Search"
have separate boxes; on the ESV site one box handles both
types of query.  Other than that, the search procedure is
very similar on both sites.

Before we go on to look specifically at the ESV, let us
use the search procedure to look up some Scripture.  The
following examples work at either site.  The parser is
fairly sophisticated.  (A "parser" is the part of the
software that takes what you type in and then tries to
figure out what it means.)  Try typing the following into
the Search box, for example:

Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5, 9, 14; 1 John 1:1-4 Then either press enter on your keyboard or mouse-click on the Search button on the ESV site (or the Go button on the Bible Gateway site). (To "mouse-click" on a button on the screen is to place your mouse cursor on that screen button and then to press down on the left mouse button.) You should get exactly what you asked for! Now let's suppose you want to look at an entire book of the Bible, say, Ephesians. Type the following into the Search box and press enter: Ephesians It didn't work, did it? Instead of the entire book, you got only the first chapter. But now try this: Ephesians 1-6 That works! (You should be aware, however, that 500 verses is the maximum that can be displayed per page. If you want to view the entire Gospel of John, for example, you can open two browser windows, put John 1-11 in one window, and put John 12-21 in the other window.) Both sites also allow you to use the Search facility (or the Advanced search option) as you would a concordance (a word index to the Bible) when you don't know the book, chapter(s), and verse(s), but I'll let you explore that topic on your own. Now let's take a look at the ESV. What is the English Standard Version? The ESV home page tells us the intended goal: "A new, essentially literal translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, beauty, and readability." http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/ That is, the aim was more or less to combine the word-for-word accuracy of the NASB with the smooth readability of the NIV. The project was pursued under the general editorship of J.I. Packer (the author of Knowing God and other fine Christian books). Many evangelicals - not only Reformed, but also dispensational or otherwise - apparently believe that the ESV fulfills the goal set for it. Here is a representative sample of those endorsing the ESV: "The translation is outstanding. The ESV achieves a new standard in accurate Bible translations for our day." --Dr. R. C. Sproul, Chairman, Ligonier Ministries "The ESV promises to be true to its name: the English Standard Version for the coming generation. It is a careful rendering that captures and communicates the sense of the original biblical text and does so in flowing modern English.... Well done!" --Dr. S.M. Baugh, Assoc. Prof. of New Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary "I have been spending the last two months reading the English Standard Version of the Bible and am so impressed with the clarity, beauty, and power of it that I feel that I am reading the Bible again for the first time. From now on the ESV will be my Bible of choice. I will be using the ESV in my preaching and teaching, my broadcasts and in my books. I simply don't have the words to say how thankful I am for the ESV, its faithfulness to the original, and its beauty. Congratulations on all the work you have done to give the church such a magnificent gift." --Steve Brown, Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando "Because we treasure the Bible as God's authoritative Word, we rejoice in the appearance of an English Standard Version. Both readable and accurate, the ESV is a marvelous accomplishment." --Dr. Luder G. Whitlock, President, Reformed Theological Seminary "I appreciate deeply the evident commitment to the absolute truth of Scripture, and the willingness of these scholars to yield to the Spirit rather than bend to the wind of cultural trends." --Dr. Bryan Chapell, President, Covenant Theological Seminary "The ESV shows exactly what the original says--and with elegance of style! I welcome its publication with enthusiasm." --Dr. Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, GA "This is what I've wanted for myself and my church for twenty-five years - one Bible we can all read, study, memorize, give to our children." --The Rev. Dr. Joseph F. (Skip) Ryan, Pastor, Park Cities Presbyterian Church "The English Standard Version is an excellent translation, easy to read, faithful to the original - a translation that can be trusted to express biblical truth...." --Dr. John F. Walvoord, Chancellor, Dallas Theological Seminary "...the ESV makes an important contribution of trueness to the text and readability. --Dr. Joseph M. Stowell, President, Moody Bible Institute "The ESV beautifully blends good, contemporary English with reverence and accuracy. I hope it will be mightily used of the Lord." --Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, Pastor, Moody Church, Chicago, IL "The ESV echoes the KJV in literary eloquence and dignity. But in translation philosophy and original-language fidelity, the ESV also surpasses every modern translation available." --Dr. Robert W. Yarbrough, Chairman, Department of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School "The ESV will be warmly received and universally respected by all those who love the Bible and demand faithful and accurate translation." --Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary "In a day of endless compromise in translation, I rejoice in the accuracy, objectivity, and conviction evident in the translation of the ESV. This may well be the breakthrough for which we have prayed." --Dr. Paige Patterson, President, Southern Baptist Convention "Meticulous care and passionate research make the ESV a crisp, accurate, and valuable translation." --Max Lucado, Minister, Oak Hills Church of Christ "Easy to read, yet utterly accurate." --Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and President, Joni and Friends "An excellent and very readable translation." --Dr. Kenneth S. Kantzer, Dean Emeritus, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School And the list goes on.... Regardless of what Bible translation you may prefer, one good site to know about (in addition to the Bible Gateway site) is Michael D. Marlowe's Bible Research site. Let's take a quick look at that site before we use it to get background on the English Standard Version: Bible Research http://www.bible-researcher.com/ Here's how it describes its purpose on its home page: "This site is for Bible students who are looking for detailed information on the history of the canon, texts, and versions of Scripture." Michael D. Marlowe, author of the site, has this to say about his own orientation: "Theologically I am conservative and Reformed. I consider the Westminster Confession of Faith to be an accurate summary of Biblical theology." http://www.bible-researcher.com/biog.html But you don't have to be Presbyterian or Reformed to benefit from the site, which contains helpful information in the following categories: The Greek Text of the New Testament The Hebrew Text of the Old Testament Annotated Bibliography of Textual Criticism The Canon and Ancient Versions of Scripture The English Versions of Scripture Biblical Interpretation and Theology Web Directory of Biblical Studies Here's where you'll find the page on the ESV: Bible Research: English Standard Version http://www.bible-researcher.com/esv.html Check it out for some interesting background history on the ESV. You'll find out, for example, that the ESV does not try to be gender-inclusive (the direction in which the NIV seems to be moving), but to communicate accurately what is said in the original Biblical text. You'll also find out that (rather surprising to me) the ESV is a revision of the old RSV (or Revised Standard Version). The RSV was a product of the critical scholarship of mainline liberal Protestantism. In spite of that, it was not without some real strengths as a translation, suitable for possible use by conservatives if the RSV's weaknesses were removed, weaknesses which conservatives saw as substantial, especially in the Old Testament where the RSV at times offered renderings based on conjecture and speculation rather than on any textual evidence from the early manuscripts. Because I knew that the ESV used the RSV as a starting point, I was rather skeptical that the ESV would be widely accepted by theological conservatives (i.e., evangelical Protestants committed to a high view of the full trustworthiness of the Bible, a view to which the translators of the RSV were not similarly committed). Apparently I was wrong about that, and Michael Marlowe's page on the ESV has some helpful comparisons of the ESV and RSV which show, among other things, how renderings in the RSV Old Testament which conservatives would see as serious deficiencies have indeed been addressed and corrected by the ESV. Some online Christian bookstores may offer good prices, but they offer for sale bad books as well as good, the trite and trivial in addition to the solid and substantial. One notable exception to this is a bookstore that is itself discerning in the titles it carries: The Discerning Reader http://www.discerningreader.com/ The Discerning Reader: ESV http://www.discerningreader.com/esv.html Essentially, The Discerning Reader doesn't offer bad books and good books, but only excellent books at excellent prices (you are protected for the lowest price through their price matching policy). It is interesting, then, to note that the English Standard Version is, they say, "the new standard ... (and the only translation we sell)." The situation is similar with Matthias Media, an Australian site which offers "resources for growing Christians": Matthias Media http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/ Matthias Media believes that the ESV is "potentially the most important English Bible translation to be published in the last 25 years" and summarizes its position as follows: "...this [the ESV], at last, is an English Bible that we can take and read, both publicly and privately. It's accurate enough to study carefully, and preach from, yet flowing and lucid enough to read in church and privately." http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/ESV/Is_this_the_Bible.html Special pro-ESV material (for example, you can "[d]ownload a Powerpoint presentation about why we should change from the NIV to the ESV") is made available on this page on their site: Matthias Media: English Standard Version http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/ESV/index.html Incidentally, if you visit their site, why not check out these creative approaches to presenting the gospel and challenging current cultural myths?: 2 Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face ("Matthias Media's well-known explanation of the Gospel, set out clearly online") http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/index.html Jesus and Arnie ("Why Jesus is a better hero figure than any Arnold Schwarzenegger character") http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/goodnews/Arnie.html The Best Sex You Can Get ("Why God's design for sex is the most satisfying") http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/goodnews/Bestsex.html Your Stars Exposed ("A mock astrology chart which points out the problems with trusting in 'the stars' and points people to the trustworthy God who loves") http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/goodnews/Yourstars.html Tolerance ("A pithy critique of relativism, [a critique] which points to Jesus--the God-man--who is the absolute truth") http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/goodnews/Tolerance.html I myself at this points am not as persuaded as The Discerning Reader or Matthias Media that the ESV is the way to go, but I do highly recommend it as a translation and suggest that it be used along with other translations of value (the KJV, NASB, NIV, and NKJV). _______________________________________________________________ 2. MORE ON MACHEN: BIOGRAPHY, BIBLIOGRAPHY, & PERSONAL LETTERS The previous issue of CATI contained this article: J. GRESHAM MACHEN: DEFENDER OF CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALS http://www.traver.org/cati/archives/cati76.htm#1 A CATI subscriber who has offered many helpful suggestions in the past suggested a postscript to that article, and I thought you might find interesting his letter as well as my reply, both of which add some additional thoughts. As you may know, I protect the privacy of CATI subscribers and do not mention names unless I have been given permission to do so in advance. I'm glad that David Haslam gave such permission, because it gives me opportunity to acknowledge publicly my appreciation for his thoughtful emails, from which I have learned a lot over the years. Even when he mentions things of which I may already be aware (as in this instance), CATI subscribers may benefit. Here is the letter he wrote me: ______________________________________________________________ / Hi Barry, Please add a postscript to mention the following book which I have in my possession (Banner). Stonehouse, Ned B., "J. Gresham Machen - A Biographical Memoir" (520 pp) 1st ed. 1954 Eerdmans (repr. 1955) 2nd ed. 1978 Westminster Theological Seminary 3rd ed. 1987 Banner of Truth. This is an excellent biography which presents a good measure of the man. Three more of his works are mentioned on the back cover. "God Transcendent" 208pp. "The Christian View of Man" 256pp. "The New Testament - An Introduction to its Literature and History" 386pp. I have the last one also. It's a brilliant work - very edifying. With warmest greetings, David Haslam \_____________________________________________________________ And here is the reply I sent him: _____________________________________________________________ / David, Thanks for your note. Actually, though I didn't make the information as evident as I should have, some of that information was included in my article in "hidden" form through this reference: Hart, Darryl. "Bibliographic Essay on the Works of J. Gresham Machen" (Premise) http://capo.org/premise/96/mj/p960504.html Darryl Hart was Librarian at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, and is now at Westminster Seminary, California. I should have mentioned that, because his "bibliographic essay" (although somewhat informal in format) is a rich resource of information not only about what Machen has written, but also about what has been written about Machen (although it doesn't mention some of the details that you do). Ned B. Stonehouse, of course, was Machen's successor as Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, and a first-rate scholar himself. His "biographical memoir" of Machen is a very helpful book, although it has been brought to task (perhaps properly so) as being somewhat of "an exercise in Protestant hagiography," since the Machen it presents seems faultless. From a slightly different perspective, Hart's book on Machen is also worth reading. Although a controversial writer at times, D.G. Hart is very much respected as a scholar in the area of church history. (I heard him speak at a seminar on Jonathan Edwards, and I think he was the only speaker I heard there -- and the gathering was of noteworthy Edwards scholars across the country -- who suggested that Jonathan Edwards may have had some faults mixed in with his strengths.) I personally got to know some of the private details of Machen's life some years ago in a special way: one summer I had the opportunity not only to work with the "Machen archives" at Westminster Seminary (including carbon copies of his personal correspondence), but also to be paid for doing so (part of my responsibility was to bring some order out of some disorder)! One of the things that impressed me was the plain (and gentle) manner in which Machen took the time patiently to explain to individuals who wrote to him asking him about his position, for example, on Christian liberty and other issues where his Presbyterian convictions caused him to differ from the typical fundamentalist positions of the time. To him, apparently, a personal letter required a personal reply, and even to personal attacks he responded with a quiet and Christian spirit. Reading Stonehouse's biography, one is impressed by the intellectual and scholarly achievements of Machen and his brilliant mind. Reading the letters in the Machen archives, one is impressed by his ability to communicate to the common man and his heart to do so. Reading Machen's published works, one is impressed by both. Not only do you have powerful intellectual argument (as in The Virgin Birth of Christ or The Origin of Paul's Religion), but also you have his ability to speak in a way that could be understood also by non-scholars (as in his radio series or collections of sermons). His masterful book Christianity and Liberalism well displays both aspects of the man. There, as elsewhere, "We shall do well to listen to Dr. Machen." Best regards in Christ, Barry Traver, Editor of "CATI," a free e-mail newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" Web site: http://traver.org/cati/ E-mail: cati@traver.org P.S. Do you have any objection to my quoting your letter in a future issue of CATI? If not, do you prefer that I mention or not mention your name? \______________________________________________________________ By the way, I much enjoy hearing from CATI subscribers (and I will not publish your "letter to the editor" unless you give permission to me to do so). Feel free to tell me what you like and/or don't like about the newsletter, and let me know if you have suggestions for topics to be covered in future issues! _______________________________________________________________ 3. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?: CATI NEWSLETTER GOT SPAMASSASSINATED! Spam is a problem. Spam filtering can also be a problem. I'll have more to say about each in a moment. First, what is "spam"? Essentially, "spam" is unsolicited commercial e-mail messages (i.e., advertising) sent in bulk by people you don't know. In other words, it's "electronic junk mail." Estimates vary, but it has been estimated that from 30% to 50% of the e-mail being sent around the Internet today falls into the category of "spam." Most of us do not enjoy checking our e-mail and finding that our e-mailboxes are filled with spam. So various approaches have been attempted to solve the problem, and most of them involve filtering. For example, many e-mail programs offer spam filtering. In addition, some anti-spam software programs focus on filtering out spam. In both cases, the filtering takes place on your computer. But there's another possibility as well: the software that does the filtering may run not on your computer, but on the server that collects your mail and then passes it on to you. (A "server" is a big computer that "serves" you your e-mail.) If the software identifies what it thinks is spam, you will probably not get to see that e-mail in its original form (and in some cases, depending on the administrator in charge of the server, may not get to see it at all). Incidentally, we have in mind here primarily what is called POP3 e-mail (i.e., "regular e-mail") rather than Web-based e-mail (such as is found at hotmail.com and yahoo.com). One increasingly popular anti-spam program that can run on POP3 e-mail servers is SpamAssassin: SpamAssassin http://www.spamassassin.org/ In fact, that is how SpamAssassin is usually used, although there are also versions that will work on your own computer (at least if you're running Windows): Where SpamAssassin Is Used: Windows Mailer Integration http://www.spamassassin.org/where.html These versions of SpamAssassin work with Windows e-mail programs such as Eudora. Here's how server-based SpamAssassin works. Before it sends your mail to you (so that you can download it onto your own computer), SpamAssassin tests your mail for spam. If it finds what it thinks is spam, it labels it as such. Depending on the administrator involved, you may or may not get to see that e-mail. If you do see it, "*****SPAM*****" will be added to the Subject line and (less obviously) SpamAssassin will indicate that the e-mail is "probably spam." It may or may not be automatically placed in a special directory for trash. Considering the difficulty of identifying spam, SpamAssassin is "on target" surprisingly frequently in its identification of spam. Perhaps less than five per cent of the time it is incorrect and mistakenly identifies valid mail as junk mail. (Such an error is called a "false positive.") And here is where we run into trouble. Spam is a problem, but spam filtering can also be a problem, if it causes some of your valid e-mail not to arrive or to arrive in mutilated form. In an article entitled, "Spam Filters ... SpamAssassin," Gord Sears has this to say: "Everyone's losing a little more email these days ... and for good reason - SPAMAssassin!... [E-mail newsletter] publishers mailing to their own opt-in lists are being innocently caught in Spam filters such as SpamAssassin. Though most publishers are aware of the problem it is causing them in delivering their publications, most recipients of email are unaware of this. After all, it's hard to miss what you never received.... So now publishers have two problems - deliveries which fail to arrive, and an acute lack of awareness of this by the intended recipient. It's not like SpamAssassin sends anyone a report saying 'Here's who we blocked for you today ...')." http://www.who-nothow.com/spamassassin.shtml Here's an important thought about SpamAssassin: "In essence, your ISP may have installed it without fully informing you of its effects, and that you may not receive certain emails containing the words or phrases the Spam filter automatically blocks. If your ISP has installed this type of filtering software, how do you know what's being blocked?..." http://www.who-nothow.com/spamassassin.shtml SpamAssassin is hard not only on spammers, but also on Ezine (Electronic magazine) and e-mail newsletter publishers who do not send out unsolicited commercial e-mail (and is also hard on their subscribers): "[S]uppose such mandatory Ezine terms as ...'unsubscribe' or 'Removal Instructions' were 'penalized'? Yes ... SpamAssassin actually 'penalizes' email containing these common mandatory Opt-in etiquette terms.... [It] effectively disconnects potential recipient's email, based upon predetermined 'rules' which prevent evaluation.... [It] claims that the software merely diverts the 'suspected' Spam into another folder for future review and obliteration. Like Zen mind waves'll zap you with the knowledge that the email from your boss admonishing you to 'increase sales', or he'll 'guarantee' that any future 'great offer' for employment is unlikely ... has been blocked - whoops!" http://www.who-nothow.com/spamassassin.shtml Some servers don't actually delete what they think is spam: They simply put "*****SPAM*****" in the Subject line (thus making it likely that it will be deleted by the recipient?). If your e-mail is coming to you through an Internet Service Provider who has installed SpamAssassin, you will want to do two things: (1) find out whether you are actually receiving all mail sent to you (even in mutilated form) and (2) be sure to check any mail labeled "*****SPAM*****" to confirm that it really is SPAM rather than something you want to read (such as a newsletter to which you have subscribed?). For more than one CATI subscriber, the previous issue of CATI got "SpamAssassinated." Here's an example of one e-mail that I received (with the identity of the sender removed): ______________________________________________________________ / From: ------- ------- <-------@-------.---> To: "Barry Traver" <cati@traver.org> Date: Friday, November 15, 2002, 10:44:12 AM Subject: *****SPAM***** "Christians And The Internet" (CATI, 3/13) ===8<==============Original message text=============== Barry, Would you please resend this issue of CATI as my server's spam protector messed up your message.... Wow! Thanks, ------- ----- Original Message ----- From: "Barry Traver" <barry@traver.org>To: "------- -------" <-------@-------.---> Sent: Friday, November 15, 2002 10:32 AM Subject: *****SPAM***** "Christians And The Internet" (CATI, 3/13) > SPAM: -------------------- Start SpamAssassin > results ----------------------> SPAM: This mail is probably spam. The original message has > been altered so you can recognise or block similar unwanted > mail in future. > SPAM: See http://spamassassin.org/tag/ for more details. > SPAM: > SPAM: Content analysis details: (6.40 hits, 6 required) > SPAM: SATISFACTION (2.7 points) BODY: Satisfaction Guaranteed > SPAM: WORK_AT_HOME (1.9 points) BODY: Information on > how to work at home > SPAM: LARGE_COLLECTION (1.8 points) BODY: Possible porn - Large Number of movies, pics > SPAM: LINES_OF_YELLING_3 (-0.8 points) BODY: 3 WHOLE LINES OF YELLING DETECTED > SPAM: LINES_OF_YELLING_2 (-0.7 points) BODY: 2 WHOLE LINES OF YELLING DETECTED > SPAM: SPAM_PHRASE_02_03 (-0.7 points) BODY: Spam phrases score is 02 to 03 (medium) > SPAM: [score: 2] > SPAM: BALANCE_FOR_LONG_20K (-0.1 points) BODY: Message text is over 20K in size > SPAM: LINES_OF_YELLING (0.3 points) BODY: A WHOLE LINE OF YELLING DETECTED > SPAM: MIME_LONG_LINE_QP (2.0 points) RAW: Quoted-printable line longer than 76 characters > SPAM: > SPAM: -------------------- End of SpamAssassin > results --------------------- .... \______________________________________________________________ I must admit that much of the preceding doesn't make much sense to me. For instance, I was unable to find the phrase "Satisfaction Guaranteed" in the newsletter, nor did I find any "Information on how to work at home" (although I did find the phrase "at work or at home," which has nothing to do with "Information on how to work at home"). I am also puzzled by the claim that there was a "Large number of movies, pics" (it was the previous issue of CATI that contained the list of film reviews in Christian Home and School magazine). Note that those three items by themselves put CATI into the category of "spam" (2.7 + 1.9 + 1.8 = 6.4, and a score of 6.0 is enough for an e-mail to be considered "spam" and thus be eligible for assassination). Ordinarily, SpamAssassin practices "capital punishment." First, a definition: according to e-mail etiquette, you should avoid writing entirely in capital letters, because that is considered to be "YELLING." Usually an e-mail is punished if it contains entire lines in capital letters: "body Contient une ligne entière en MAJUSCULES LINES_OF_YELLING 0.212 body Contient 2 lignes entières en MAJUSCULE LINES_OF_YELLING_2 0.217 body Contient lignes entières en MAJUSCULES LINES_OF_YELLING_3 0.315" http://spamassassin.org/tests.html ("Contient lignes en MAJUSCULES" means "contains entire lines in CAPITALS.") Take a look at SpamAssassin's Web page, and you'll be amazed at some of the things for which an e-mail communication may be penalized. (Strangely, CATI is given a negative score for "YELLING," so it may not have suffered "CAPITAL punishment," but don't ask me to explain that seeming inconsistency: it's as inexplicable as the other comments from SpamAssassin.) Now, CATI does have entire lines in capital letters, but that is not "YELLING": it's simply CATI's way of making it easy for you to see article titles. Note that CATI got a large penalty (2.0) for "Quoted-printable line longer than 76 characters." From what I can figure out, that's because CATI provided a long URL (which has to be on one line to be "clickable"). And I don't know whether I ought to be annoyed or amused that SpamAssassin considers CATI to be "Possible porn." Below is part of a letter I wrote to the administrator involved (I'm still waiting for a response): ______________________________________________________________ / ...I got a letter from someone who subscribes to "CATI," my free e-mail newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet." He indicated that the issue had gotten SpamAssassinated (see below). Does this mean that the same thing happened to every other subscriber using [your mail server]? CATI is not SPAM. It is an "opt in" newsletter. No one is placed on the mailing list unless he or she specifically requests that such be done. CATI is sent at present to about 300 subscribers.... So I need to know a couple of things from you. (1) As already mentioned, I need to know whether every CATI subscriber using [your mail server] had his copy of CATI mistakenly identified as "*****SPAM*****" and mutilated? (2) I [also] need to know whether I can expect similar problems in the future for CATI subscribers who use [your mail server]. Note: CATI is "opt in." I believe that is the courteous way to do things. No one is placed on the mailing list unless that person indicates to me that he or she wants be on the list. SpamAssassin offers no such courtesy [at least to those using your mail server]. People are placed on the list whether they choose to be or not (or, rather, they are given no choice: they are placed on the list without having been asked or even having been told that such was being done). SpamAssassin is allegedly at least "opt out"..., but my guess is that most people are not aware of that (belated) option (nor do I know how many of my other subscribers are using e-mail hosted on other servers that SpamAssassinate e-mail <sigh>). Some people may set things up so that all e-mail that is identified as "*****SPAN*****" is automatically sent to the trash. If they are aware that they're not getting CATI (and are unaware that it's being sent normally by me but that they aren't seeing it because it's being SpamAssassinated), I am likely to be blamed for that failure. Or, perhaps worse, they may not even recognize that they are missing out on issues (and, since the SpamAssassinated issues are not being returned to me, I have no way of knowing that people are not receiving issues of CATI normally). In the past, I could normally assume that unless I heard otherwise (e.g., by an issue being "bounced back" to me), each issue of CATI was safely getting to those who had requested to receive CATI on a regular basis. Now I can no longer assume that. So SpamAssassin (like some similar programs, as Fred Langa has noted more than once in his Langa List newsletter) is doing a disservice both to the affected newsletter subscriber and to the newsletter publisher. Again, I need at present to know two things from you. (1) I need to know whether every CATI subscriber using [your mail server] had his copy of CATI mistakenly identified as "*****SPAM*****" and mutilated. (2) I need to know whether I can expect similar problems in the future for CATI subscribers who use [your mail server]. Thanks in advance for any reassurance you may be able to supply.... \______________________________________________________________ Now, I acknowledge that spam can be (and is) a serious problem on the Internet. I am not persuaded, however, that censorship on the mail server level is the way to respond, especially when the "tests" it uses for spam penalize the legitimate publishers of "opt-in" newsletters and their subscribers. In the future I hope to discuss some alternative ways of dealing with spam (including running anti-spam software on your own computer where _you_ get to make the choices or setting up appropriate filters as is possible for many e-mail programs). One purpose of this article is to demonstrate that (as things are currently configured) SpamAssassin maims, mutilates, and sometimes murders innocent e-mail newsletters that people have specifically requested be sent to them. If you find that such is happening to you, I recommend that you contact your administrator and have him adjust your settings or even remove your e-mail from the threat of SpamAssassination. _______________________________________________________________ 4. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: INFORMATION ON CATI NEWSLETTER Like to know what this is? This is the seventy-seventh issue of a free newsletter devoted to "Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the "Internet"). Like to subscribe to this free email newsletter? Just send an email to subscribe@cati.org (but be sure to include your name in the note). Like to read past CATI issues and articles (or even search CATI for a particular subject)? Go to http://cati.org and you'll find an archive of past issues (arranged in reverse chronological order), a partial index of articles (arranged alphabetically by topic), and a search engine specifically for use with CATI. Like to pass along this issue to others? You may. Permission is hereby granted to pass along any issue of CATI to someone else, provided that it is passed along in its entirety with no changes made. (For now, I prefer that you send the complete issue, although I may in the near future provide guidelines for passing along individual articles.) Like to use material from this newsletter (say, on a Web page or in a publication)? For permission to do that, send a note to cati@traver.org (explaining what you'd like to use and for what purpose). Reasonable requests are usually granted. Like to unsubscribe? That's also easy. Just send an email to unsubscribe@cati.org (but if you decide to unsubscribe, you'll be missed, so any thoughts about the newsletter that you would be willing to share at that time would be much appreciated). Like to tell your friends about CATI? That is not only much encouraged, but also an encouragement to the editor! CATI is a lot of work (albeit a labor of love) and (since it is a free newsletter and I intend it to stay such) provides no financial income, so what keeps me going with this personal endeavor is knowing that people are finding it to be helpful, instructive, and enjoyable. (Comments from readers are always welcome, so let me hear from you!) Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is Copyright (C) 2002 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved. _______________________________________________________________