Sidewalk Mailbox #5: Turing Test

I've been stockpiling some letters received for a rainy day. Today is sunny, but whatever. See if you can tell which of them were written by actual humans!

Dear Bill (if I may),

Thank you for your important blog post about design issues and pedestrian accidents. I am a daughter of the two pedestrians killed early this month in Ramsey and the media coverage has been maddening to say the least. (And as a former journalist, I agree that they are overworked and underpaid but in this case the mention of alcohol use was entirely inaccurate and just lazy reporting.)

If there are any initiatives to build the long-discussed footbridge and/or move the highway that you know of, please let me know as I would happy to participate. I hope you keep writing about these issues.

Kind regards,
In Mourning

Dear IM (you may),

This is the most touching letter I have ever received. I am sorry for your loss, and hate to think that Twin Cities transportation system is responsible for so much sadness.

Yours truly,

Hey Bill, 

I really enjoy reading your blog and check in about once a week.  Even though your Villager rap up is more entertaining and would prevent me from banging my head against the dining room table, I'm still hooked into the agonizing paper version for some reason.  While out walking the dog the other day, I re-found these steps (attached).  Wondered if I could stump you on their whereabouts?

Hooked on Highland

Dear Hooked,

I am sorry to hear about your Villager addition. The good news is that you're not alone. There are an estimated 2500 people addicted to the Highland Villager in St Paul alone, but very few of them will receive treatment. That means that the vast majority of Villager readers are out there struggling with addiction alone. It's a lonely, terrifying existence for anyone that has ever experienced it. I know how it feels because I’ve walked in the same shoes.

There are several reasons why people in need of anti-NIMBY treatment don’t receive it.

    ▪    Money – as of 2011, the average cost of a 28-day stay at a residential rehab clinic was more than $27,000. Unfortunately, mental health insurance companies no longer cover NIMBY addiction, and most addicts simply cannot afford to pay for treatment on their own.

    ▪    Stigma of addiction – despite constant efforts to spread public awareness of NIMBY addiction as a disease, not a character flaw, many still look down on those suffering from addiction, which often causes addicts to remain silent and isolated.

    ▪    Attending neighborhood group meetings – many people find that neighborhood group meetings perpetuate their problem. A large number of addicts are introverts and began reading the Highland Villager early in life to overcome shyness, self-consciousness, and inhibitions. Take away the Villager and those personality traits soon re-appear. Try to drag them from a neighborhood group meeting, and many of them will tiptoe right back into the front door faster than you can say “keep coming back”.

    ▪    Geographical location – millions of people struggling with addiction live in "The Village", where there are few, if any, treatment facilities or support groups available.

Please take care, and find a non-misanthropic friend who can help you through this difficult process.

With love,

I just finished reading a post of yours from a bit ago and really enjoyed it!

Do you do advertising? I'm marketing out a site and can pay you via PayPal for adding a few text links to an old post of yours. These links would go to resources on education and topics related to the theme of your post.

Let me know if we can work something out! :)    


Dear Smiley,

My financial institution has issued me a notice to provide the you with consent to present you as a financial partner, so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you for our mutual benefit. On
receipt of your positive response, we shall then discuss the modalities for transfer.

I have all necessary information and legal documents shall be processed to back you up for the claim. All I require from you is your honest co-operation to enable us see this transaction through. I
guarantee that this transaction will be executed under legitimate arrangements that will protect you from any breach of the law.

Please send your bank account number so that we may pursue this matter further.


Hello, sir!  I'm a volunteer for the Bandwidth 2012 Music Festival on April 22.  This nonprofit event is free to the public and we are looking for ways to get the word out-- do you post this sort of thing on your blog?

Thank you for your time,
Tooting My Own Horn

Dear Tooting,

Yes, I do post this sort of thing. The only catch is that I only post it months after the events have taken place.

Belatedly yours,

Hi there,

My name is Najie C. and I work with the Sweet Elephant Music Group street team. We are a local hip hop organization that promotes local hip hop artists through bringing in big name indie hip hop artists to allow our artists to showcase for their fans. What we do as a street team is gorilla type marketing. We are very diligent in reach each and every community when promoting our events. We were very interested to see a group that was interested in giving a voice to Twin Cities Residents. That is a great asset to companies like ours.

We are interested in seeing if you could provide us with a list of the locations to all of the bulletin boards you came in contact with, or companies allowing bulletins to be posted in the store fronts? Thank you so much for your time and keep up the good work.

2 Pach-yderm

Dear 2-Pachyderm,

I've always wanted to see elephants doing gorilla marketing. Perhaps the Como Zoo might be an ideal location?

Good luck,

Hi Bill,

I'm a writer for an online resource looking at the intersections between psychology theory and management and I'm interested in contributing an article to your blog. I came across your blog http://tcsidewalks.blogspot.com/2008/07/jane-jacobs-development-v-destruction.html while I was conducting research about industrial organization and found your content to be very engaging.

So far South Carolina's Lieutenant Governor's Office of Aging and the Queensland Government's Health information services have listed the project as a resource for others.

I'd like to write an article relating to industrial organizational psychology, perhaps on positive psychology or prospect theory. Please let me know if you'd be interested. Thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon.


Dear Quack,

As you suggest, my blog peaked in 2008. Today it's a shadow of its former self. I doubt very much if you'd want to be affiliated with it.


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Dear Gosh,

What is this "Google"? I wish there was some way of looking it up.

Thanks for the warning about brussels, though. I just opened my fridge and this is what I found in the crisper:

You probably saved my life.



T said...

Sometimes I have to look at the paper Villager. I just wanna see if I'm in the police report. Hard to say why I even check. I mean, if I'm in the police report, not much I can do about it at that point.

Unknown said...

So am I to understand by your dodging the question that you are, in fact, stumped as to the location of the stairs in the picture?

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