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Frequently Asked Questions

Thanks for checking here for your question rather than e-mailing and waiting for days for a reply.

  1. I have questions about the copyright/forwarding
  2. The issue I just got arrived on Saturday, but the date on it is last Sunday! Why?
  3. I like Randy’s style. Will he come give a talk to my group?
  4. What in the world does “arcie” mean?
  5. I suddenly stopped getting my issues. Are you on vacation?
  6. Can I get back issues that I missed? Or, do you have a story about <whatever> you can send me?
  7. Who or what is “AWeber”?
  8. Is True associated with the “Darwin Awards” that go around by e-mail?
  9. Can I give True books or Premium upgrades as gifts?
  10. True seems to use an odd punctuation style around quotation marks. Why?


1. I have questions about the copyright notice. Just what is and is not allowed, and why?

That is covered in detail in its very own Copyright FAQ.


2. The issue I just got arrived on Saturday, but the date on it is last Sunday! Why did it get here so late?

Please see your “Welcome” message that you got when you subscribed. It explains our publishing schedule. In summary, the stories are written on Sundays, Premium subscribers get their newsletters Monday evenings, and the free edition comes out Friday evenings (USA time). Premium subscribers also get quite a few other benefits for their modest fee. See this page for details.


3. I like Randy’s style. Will he come give a talk to my group?

Yes, Randy will consider speaking engagements. More info is here.


4. What in the world does “arcie” mean, and where did it come from? (“arcie” is Randy’s main e-mail address)

Say it out loud, and you’ll probably get it. Back in the olden days when Randy actually worked for a living, he worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In his early years there, NASA employees didn’t commonly have Internet-connected e-mail, but some did have access to “NASAmail” (a private network running Telemail software). Randy’s most frequent correspondent there in the late 1980s was a friend at NASA headquarters named John, and to spice up the exchanges they would include funny spellings of various things. Randy started to address John as “Jawn”, and John would address Randy by his initials, RC, which morphed into aRCie (pronounced “RC”), which later was simplified to arcie. It stuck, and it’s been arcie since.


5. I suddenly stopped getting my issues. Are you on vacation?

Pretty much even when we are on vacation issues still come out. But if not, we’d announce it way in advance. More likely, your subscription was dropped from the list because your copy “bounced” back repeatedly. If you suspect you’ve been dropped off the list (e.g., your server was down for a couple of weekends), just go ahead and subscribe again — the server will either re-subscribe you, or reactivate a subscription that was put on “hold” because of bounces. Just subscribe again using the form on virtually any page of this site.

Note we do not respond to anti-spam “challenge/response” messages; to ensure you get the mail you asked for, be sure to “whitelist” (allow) mail from thisistrue.com.


6. Can I get back issues that I missed? Or, do you have a story about <whatever> you can send me?

Sorry, but we can’t provide back issues of This is True. For one thing, it would quickly get out of hand (though Randy does appreciate your comments!) He’d quickly get buried if we had to find the story you’re thinking about, convert it to e-mail, and send it to you.

But there are three resources available to you: 1) The most recent issue is always here, and the one before that is always here. 2) There are several book compilations of past stories (with more coming), each volume containing a full year of not just the stories in the free edition, but those in the full column Randy sells to newspapers (which are in the Premium edition too.) And 3) We also have an online archive has hundreds of stories, and you can use the search function to find specific stories.


7. What’s “AWeber”? I see that site associated with your e-mails.

AWeber is an “ESP” — Email Service Provider — and the company we use to distribute tens of thousands of e-mails for all our free lists every week. They are the best company in the field, and we trust them completely. More info here.


8. Is This is True associated with the “Darwin Awards” that go around by e-mail?

The short answer: No.

The longer answer: No. The “central authority” (if you will) of “real” Darwin stories (tales of people erasing themselves from the gene pool — or nearly so — by doing something incredibly stupid) is at DarwinAwards.com.

There are three categories of “Darwin” stories: 1) Those that are true (such as those on the Darwin Awards web site); 2) Those that are completely made up (and what’s the fun in that?); and 3) Those that started out as true, but have been greatly embellished with made-up details over time.

An example of the third type is the one about the guy in Los Angeles who went flying in a lawn chair by tying a bunch of helium-filled weather balloons to his chair and launching himself skyward. Yes, this did happen, but first, it did not happen yesterday, as most of the e-mail versions imply — it was on July 2, 1982. Further, contrary to most e-mailed versions going around, Larry Walters was not rescued by a helicopter as he drifted to sea (like that would be possible anyway), but rather he landed by himself in Long Beach, thanks to his planning ahead and taking a pellet gun to shoot out a couple of the balloons. Other versions have other silly “details” (e.g., he really took a bottle of water, not a six-pack/case of beer, on the flight). Naturally, many such stories aren’t just embellished old stories, but are made up from the start.

The lesson: even true stories passed around online not only can be but very often are changed — sometimes several times — at the various stops they make. The only way to be sure that the story you get is as it was originally written is to subscribe directly to reliable sources. An example of this (of course!) is This is True — subscription info is here. This sort of “morphing” is why we do not accept story submissions of items you had e-mailed to you by others, that you “found somewhere” or whatever; we only will source stories from “mainstream, legitimate news sites.” For more on submitting stories to us see this page.

This is True, however, is associated with the True Stella Awards — cases of outrageous but true lawsuits. Unsurprisingly, that web site is StellaAwards.com.


9. How do I give True books and Premium upgrades as gifts?

We’re happy to work with you on gift orders. See this page for details.


10. Why does True use non-standard punctuation marks around quotation marks?

“Standard” depends on your point of view. An average American would write

I like “This is True,” which I get every week.

while a typical Brit would write

I like “This is True”, which I get every week.

See the difference in the placement of the comma? The American system is illogical and counterintuitive: the name of the publication is, in fact, “This is True”. Its name certainly does not include a comma, as implied by standard American quotation mark usage! “British punctuation style” is much more logical and correct. American schools teach the former because it means the writer doesn’t have to think — they can just follow a simplistic rule. Accuracy? Forget it — it’s not even considered. True is about thinking, about accuracy, about education. It follows logic when punctuating, not lazy school rules.

(This entry spawned quite a discussion when a reader was offended by this answer!)

2 Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Kermit, Boise, Idaho March 29, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    I upgraded a while back to the Premium edition of “this is True”, but recently I received the free edition again. I was just wondering if I was still going to get the Premium as well, but why the free one? By the way, I really enjoy the full edition and wonder why I waited so long.

    Glad you’re enjoying it. I know it’s hard to keep track of every detail, but that’s answered on the Upgrade Page:

    You are left on the free distribution — you can decide for yourself whether you want both or not. (Many Premium subscribers prefer to get both.) Unsubscribing from the free edition does not affect your Premium subscription. (There’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every free issue.)

    -rc

  2. Kaeri, Mesa, Az December 4, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    I’ve been a free subscriber for a very long time, and have never written in. Today changes that! I wanted to just thank you for providing endless humor! There have been many times I have wanted to upgrade, but I have never been able to. For the last year, I have been hospitalized….no worries, I am now well enough that I get to finish recovery at home with my husband. It has, however, been a very long road that started with pneumonia. From there, I woke from a drug induced coma to find I could not use my limbs. During my rehab, and the times that my husband was unable to visit daily, your column helped to keep my spirits up, and kept me fighting. This past July, I became septic for the second time, ending up with a respirator and a colostomy. Thankfully, I am now off the respirator. I get to keep the colostomy for another year, but it is reversible. I just wanted you to know my story, since you have been so kind as to share your stories with me. Keep them coming to my inbox!

    Wow, that’s quite a struggle! And if TRUE has helped you to keep your spirits up, I’m quite gratified. Take care, and enjoy TRUE! -rc

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