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Please Mr. Postman 

Once in my lost innocent youth, I called the post office and asked if there existed a form I could sign that would direct all the junk mail daily cluttering my mailbox to be automatically returned to sender.

"No," they informed me courteously. "If it is addressed to you, then we have to deliver it to you."

Annoyed, I accepted this fact as immutable. But now I find--as with so many things once considered solid--that this immutability has melted into air.

Recently, an artist friend in Durham forwarded an e-mail containing a simple idea that I immediately forwarded to all my e-mail buddies. Its implications are as profound as they are satisfying.

The idea is this: When you get those pre-approved letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to second mortgages, most of them come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? Well, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in those cool little envelopes. Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express, or a pizza coupon to Citibank. You can even send the envelope back empty if you just want to keep 'em guessing.

The message has no doubt already reached multitudes on the Net. If even just a small percentage acts on it, what marvelous havoc would be wreaked. Can't you just see all those direct-mail greed heads who inflict that river of junk mail inundated by a flood of their own spume? They will rise up as one and cry out in bottom-line agony, "Stop. Cease. We are drowning."

And the post office will reply, "If it is addressed to you, then we have to deliver it to you."

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