Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Struggling with SpamBlocker

I thought I had my spam problem solved. The other day I downloaded and installed the newest version of EarthLink's SpamBlocker, which has a challenge-response feature. But it doesn't work just as I want it to, so I've disabled it. Here's the problem. I have twelve names in my Outlook Express "contacts" list. I like to keep this list simple. It has the names of people to whom I write often, such as my mother and my bicycling friends. Anyone on the "contacts" list who writes to me gets through without having to do the challenge-response thing. If you're not on the "contacts" list, your e-mail to me gets stored in the "suspect email" folder on EarthLink's server. I can see how many messages are in this folder by clicking the SpamBlocker logo in Outlook Express. Suppose I see that there's a message and go to EarthLink's server to see what it is. It's from X, one of my blog correspondents. What I'd like to do is say, "Let this person's mail get through to me." But all I can do is say, "Let it get through to me and add the person to my 'contacts' list." I don't want to add everyone to my "contacts" list! I want to keep it simple. My only alternative is to click "Send message to inbox without adding person to 'contacts' list." You guessed it. The next time X writes to me, he or she has to do the challenge-response thing again. Do you see my predicament? I want to let certain people's messages get through to me, but not by adding them to my 'contacts' list. Maybe I'll write to EarthLink. It seems like a simple thing to change, and I'll bet I'm not the only person who dislikes this feature. By the way, I apologize to those of you who had to respond to a challenge more than once. It's my fault, since I didn't add you to my "contacts" list. To make things worse, I lost several e-mail messages this afternoon. I thought I sent them to my inbox, but they disappeared. If you sent something to me, please resend it. Tax Cuts Steve Headley has an interesting post on tax cuts over at Texas Conservative. I agree with Steve that tax cuts stimulate economic growth. It's common sense. But we must not lose sight of an important principle, to wit: People are entitled to the fruits of their labor. So there are two arguments for tax cuts: the consequentialist argument, which says that tax cuts have good consequences, and the deontological argument, which says that people have a right to retain the fruits of their labor even if this does not have good consequences, indeed, even if it has bad consequences. Suppose it is shown that tax cuts do not stimulate economic growth. This undercuts only the consequentialist argument. I wish the Bush administration would articulate the deontological argument. It's important. The Bush administration has done a poor job in general of articulating its principles, explaining its policies, and justifying its decisions. The case for war in Iraq, for example, is manifold. There are at least five good reasons to have gone to war, no one of which is necessary but any one of which is sufficient. The administration made far too much of the so-called weapons of mass destruction. Now it's paying the price for that single-mindedness. The lesson is simple: Don't put all your justificatory eggs in one basket.

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