Wednesday, 10 September 2014

EuNPC and mailing lists

Had an email today advertising the 2015 European Nuclear Physics Conference, and thought I'd pass it on here.  I've not been to either of the previous two outings of this conference series, though the first one, in Bochum in 2009 was attended by my then-postdoc.  These days I don't have a post-doc.  In fact, there are no longer any theoretical nuclear physics postdocs working in the UK, thanks to drops in funding, though we will have one at Surrey in the near future.  One is not a large number.

This one is in Groningen, in the Netherlands.  I've never been there, so it might be a nice excuse to visit.  Perhaps, of course, they will invite me to give a talk *cough* and then I'll be sure to go.  It's not the most exotic part of Europe -- and I perhaps should have attended the previous one, in Bucharest in 2012, seeing as I've never been to Romania.  The biscuit, though, was taken by a conference in the CompStar series.  CompStar is short for Compact Star, which is a term referring to the dense remnants (such as neutron stars) that are the end stage of normal star evolution.  There is a lot of nuclear physics going on in working out the properties of these stars, and one of my colleagues attended the conference.  It had to be somewhere in the EU, as I understand, because of some EU funding.  So, one of the organisers arranged for it to be in his home town, in Tahiti.  Because of the way France deals with its overseas territories, they are all part of the EU on the same basis as any other part of France (hence the curiosities in the maps on the Euro banknotes).

The email about the conference came via one of the nuclear physics mailing lists I am subscribed to.  It ended with the line "To unsubscribe from the NUSTAR list, click the following link: &*TICKET_URL(NUSTAR,SIGNOFF);".  So, some glitch there, which is no problem.  I don't want to unsubscribe, and If I did I could easily ask them.  It reminds me of a more painful e-mail related problem I am suffering at the moment, though:

It started, I think, when some paid advertising by the Conservative Party appeared on my Facebook wall and asked if I'd like to give the Tories some comments or feedback by filling in a poll.  Ever happy to tell the Conservative Party what I think of them, I went ahead and did it.  I then clicked on the box to agree that they could get in touch with me if they wanted to know more about what I thought about them, and gave them my email address.  

Then the emails started - The first was sent by Boris Johnson, and was written in an terrible style -- very tabloid (or BBC News website) with separate paragraphs each of short sentences.  That weird style that no-one uses to communicate, but someone has decided makes the message easy to digest.  The content was an attack on Ed Milliband, ending with a link for me to click asking for me to donate £10 to the Tories to "make sure [Ed] never gets in to Number 10".   I've now had about a dozen of the messages (around 2 per week) from various people, including David Cameron.  They are not all purely negative campaign emails, but most of them are.  David Cameron's was actually an exception, having a Better Together message.

They are pretty awful, though, and so I tried to unsubscribe.  Each email ends with a line saying "to opt out of messages from David Cameron and the Conservative Party, send a blank message to this address" with the "this address" part hyperlinked.  The sad thing is, though, that the unsubscribe mechanism doesn't work.  Every time I have tried, my blank email to them returns with a bounce message, and I keep getting these emails.  It's almost tempting to write a spoof campaigning email in the same style, complaining that they can't even run a mailing list, yet want to run a country. Sigh.