Attachment ambiguity of the day

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The latest message in the unending stream of spam sent my way by PayPal bears the Subject line "A great deal to get away from". My immediate response was that I don't need any help in getting away from, thank you very much. But of course they're not offering to help me avoid — rather they're trying to hook me up with for a "get away".

Update — Following a suggestion in the comments, I looked again for a way to opt out of spam in my paypal account settings, but failed to find any. But inspecting the (very) fine print at the bottom of the latest note from the paypal spam bears, I did find a link that I was able to follow to reach a page that claimed I could use it to unsubscribe. So we'll see…



  1. David L said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 9:50 am

    Why are the Paypal bears sending you an unending stream of spam?

    [(myl) Nice one.]

  2. Joe said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 9:56 am

    @David L: Because Russian Hackers

  3. Laura Morland said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 10:12 am

    Amusing ambiguity!

    However, I'm writing because I find it strange that you're receiving spam from PayPal. I have had two PayPal accounts in two different countries for 14 and 10 years, respectively (I've even — unintentionally — become known as PayPal lay expert on Quora), and I have never received any spam. Or if I ever did, it happened so long ago that I cannot recall it.

    Either there is an "opt-out" in your PayPal settings that you haven't initiated, or I've directed gmail to deep-six any PayPal publicity.

    It might be worth missing the next attachment ambiguity to pursue either of these possibilities.

  4. Martha said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 10:17 am

    I think "a great getaway deal from" sounds better anyway, ambiguity aside.

  5. dw said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 11:53 am

    Everyone knows is where it's at these days :)

  6. Mara K said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

    I have a great deal to get away from…

  7. Gregory Kusnick said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

    In a similar vein, there was a series on PBS a year or two ago called "How We Got to Now with Steven Johnson".

    I expect the answer is "because he hasn't died yet."

  8. Stephen Hart said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 3:57 pm

    Laura Morland said,
    "However, I'm writing because I find it strange that you're receiving spam from PayPal."

    PayPal spam isn't from PayPal, it's just disguised to look as if it were. FedEx is another favorite disguise for spammers.

  9. David N. Evans said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 4:50 pm

    I agree with Marth that "a great getaway deal from" sounds better than "a great deal to get away from"—but what if we changed "deal" to "opportunity"? The two phrases "a great getaway opportunity from" and "a great opportunity to get away from" sound equally fine to me, even though the latter phrase is ambiguous.

    This makes me wonder whether "deal" is as flexible as nouns like "opportunity" and "effort" in taking infinitival complements. We can speak of "a great deal to buy orange juice," but does it make sense to speak of, say, "a great deal to cross the bridge"? Is that talking about an expensive bridge toll or to an inexpensive one? I, for one, wouldn't naturally assume there was a deal.

  10. Ralph Hickok said,

    September 21, 2016 @ 7:57 pm

    A couple of times a month, I get a promotional email from PayPal offering "special deals" from some of their "partners."

    I find it annoying, but I'm not sure if I'd call it spam.

    [(myl) MW definition of spam: "unsolicited usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of addresses"]

  11. William Berry said,

    September 22, 2016 @ 4:44 pm

    As is so often the case with these "ambiguities", a little good punctuation can help; in this case, a comma after "away".

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