December 14, 2005

Glurge: The Eye of God

I received the following glurgy email. I include it here with my comments added in bracketed italics.

This photo is a very rare one, taken by NASA. This kind of event occurs once in 3000 years. [This is a nebula. It's like looking at a mountain range and saying that "this kind of event occurs once in 3000 years. Nebulas and mountain ranges are not really events.]

This photo has done miracles in many lives.

Make a wish .... you have looked at the eye of God. [Funny, looks more like a sphincter to me. Maybe it is the sphincter of God! And whenever someone spies God's anus, he grants them a wish. It's a known fact.]

Surely you will see the changes in your life within a day. [You will find yourself becoming more regular. However if you notice a change in the consistency of your stool, please consult your doctor.]

Whether you believe it or not, don't keep this mail with you. [For God's sake - keeping this mail with you ought to be the last thing you do. Only a complete fool would keep this mail with him. You're not a complete fool, are you?]

Pass this at least to 7 persons. [Especially if you know anybody constipated or anal retentive.]

This is a picture NASA took with the Hubbell telescope. [And god knows that not too many of the images that come out of the Hubble telescope are this impressive. But maybe you get different images when you're using the Hubbell.]

Called "The Eye of God." [Yeah. I'm pretty sure that NASA didn't name it that. You'd think they'd have mentioned it when it was the picture of the day on their website. But whatever. Still looks sphincterish.]

Too awesome to delete. [Just watch me.] It is worth sharing.[I'd say "misery loves company, but it is a nice picture. It's just the text that is inane.]

During the next 60 seconds, Stop whatever you are doing, and take this opportunity. [...Opportunity for what? Getting caught at work staring offinto space?]

(Literally it is only One minute!) [Thanks, because I thought for a second that you were talking about 15 minutes there.]

Just send this to people and see what happens. Do not break this, please. [I think it's already broken. What's this rose have to do with anything? A touch of class? That would make a good vanity plate.]

Posted by James at December 14, 2005 12:04 PM
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Does anyone else find that rose a little creepy?

Posted by: Julie at December 14, 2005 8:08 PM

I always enjoy the poor spelling in these types of emails. This one isn't that bad, but there are some random caps. We don't speak German, you know.

I just don't understand the motivation of the people who create these things. It's not spiritual, really, because the writer doesn't do much other than mention god in passing.

What, then, would cause them to waste thier time? The knowledge that 1,000s of people will get their mail? They must know that almost everyone will throw it away unopened, or slice it to bits with biting, witty commentary, so, what's to get from this exercise that's positive?

Posted by: Patti M. at December 15, 2005 11:40 AM

I don't know, but I'm thankful it allows me to fill awkward blogging silences.

Posted by: James at December 15, 2005 2:54 PM

Some people LOVE to get crap like this in their inbox. And they will happily pass it on as well. To such people, an oft-forwarded piece of crap (often without all the previous recipients' headers removed) is every bit as good as getting a proper, personal email message from someone.

Posted by: Julie at December 15, 2005 6:52 PM

Most people know not to send me this stuff. But, to tell the truth, I rather get a kick out of the full-on lameness of so many of these glurgy emails. I can use the blogfodder.

Posted by: James at December 15, 2005 11:53 PM

I was staring into the butthole of God when he farted... I was totally blown away!

Posted by: Chuck S. at December 16, 2005 7:26 AM

My sister-in-law used to send me lots of crap email. Finally, I began to debunk her stuff at Snopes and reply to all, saying, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is a hoax..." and give the link to the Snopes info.

That put a stop to that practice pretty damned quick.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 16, 2005 8:26 AM

Blech... my latest source of unwelcome glurge just sent me this selfsame e-mail. Just days after I asked them to stop. URRGH!

Posted by: Chuck S. at January 3, 2006 3:16 AM

Block the address as spam. That'll learn 'em!

Posted by: Patti M. at January 3, 2006 6:50 AM

Feel free to send them this URL.

Posted by: James at January 3, 2006 10:24 AM

I may just do that. I opted not to because the sender would probably get offended.

Instead I opted to do a bunch of research about The Helix Nebula and make clear why it is not an event, not unusual, and not even those colors.

I also sent along the URL's of and asked the sender, again, to not send me such stuff.

Here's what I sent:

Hi name-omitted,

The nebula depicted here is NGC 7293. It is called "The Helix Nebula", not "The Eye of God". Neither NASA nor any scientists have referred to it as "The Eye of God"... that appellation is purely internet folklore.

It originally appeared as NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day" on May 10, 2003: (which is a great resource for checking the veracity of the outrageous claims that tend to circulate on the net) debunked this one awhile ago. You can read about it here:

It's worth noting that the coloration in this image (as it tends to be) is entirely artificial. The Helix Nebula isn't orange and blue. Astronomers often use techniques to alter colorations of heavenly bodies to distinguish areas composed of different substances or at different temperatures or whatever.

Here's another picture on the Helix Nebula taken in summer of 2000, and as you can see here, in this picture it is red and yellow:

And here is another picture in which it is entirely red and looks not much like an eye at all:

Nebulae are the expanding gas clouds of dying stars that have exploded. Our night sky is dotted with thousands upon thousands of them, and many of them take on an apparent ring-like appearance, so many, in fact, that there is a name for this type of nebula... it is called a "planetary nebula". There are about 10,000 planetary nebulae in our galaxy. Thus NGC 7293, while interesting and beautiful, is pretty common. What makes this particular nebula special is its apparent size, it's one of the largest planetary nebulae in our night sky because it is one of the closest to our solar system (about 650 light years away). It was discovered circa 1824 by Karl Ludwig Harding.

Here are some other planetary nebulae.

The Cat's Eye Nebula:
The Ring Nebula:
The Saturn Nebula:
NGC 6804:

Regarding the other commentary from the email you forwarded, nebulae are not "events", so the remark that this is some sort of special event that hasn't happened for 3000 years is complete nonsense. The Helix Nebula has been in our night sky for hundreds of years and has been known about for almost 200 years.

And obviously, wishing on this image is a pointless endeavor. Why anyone would think that wishing on a false-color picture of the corpse of a dying star would bring them good fortune is beyond me.

But I'm not surprised to see nonsensical assertions in the e-mail you forwarded to me. This e-mail (and the last one you forwarded to me) both fall into the category commonly referred to as GLURGE.

[ definition of Glurge and pointers to snipped...]

Pretty much all of my friends and family are aware that I absolutely loathe glurge, and I actively dislike receiving forwarded jokes/inspirational stories in my mailbox. I know that you forward these things on to me because you are thinking of me, and I appreciate that, but please do not send me such things. I will appreciate that far more. I am always delighted to read original personal messages from my loved ones, but forwarded jokes/stories are definitely in my no-thank-you column. Thank you for your cooperation in this regard.

Will that work? I hope so!

Posted by: Chuck S. at January 3, 2006 1:38 PM

It's honest, direct and informative.

It would take a churl to miss the effort you're putting into being polite about this.

Posted by: James at January 3, 2006 2:22 PM

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