James Spader, Darth Vader, Ralph Nader. Which of these three doesn't own a computer?

Back in November of 1997 there was a media event called the "Appraising Microsoft Conference" held in Washington, D.C. and hosted by consumer gadfly Ralph Nader. If you visit their Web site at:

you can read about the conference that discussed Microsoft. Before the conference they professed high intentions of seriously discussing Microsoft's influence on the future, but it ended up to be a "trash Microsoft festival". Not that Microsoft doesn't deserve to be trashed, but I thought the Nader folks and their "conference" was utterly transparent. I began to wonder...just how much does Ralph Nader know about computers and the World Wide Web. On their Web site they list their phone number and the name of their media contact Caroline Jonah. About a three weeks before the conference, armed with my trusty Sony integrated phone/recorder, I gave her a call.

Below is a transcript of a portion of our conversation.

Steve Kremer: "Do you happen to know what computer system Ralph Nader uses. Is he a Windows or Mac guy?"

Caroline Jonah: "Umm, I don't think, let me think, he doesn't even have a computer in his office to tell you the truth."

Steve Kremer: "Oh really, he isn't one of those laptop toting people?

Caroline Jonah: "In our office we have both, we use both, yeah."

Steve Kremer: "O.K., so Mr. Nader doesn't even have a computer?"

Caroline Jonah: "We have both in our office, so he can use either one, so. But in his office, I don't think he even has one in his office."

I asked if she had actually ever seen Ralph using a computer and she said I would have to talk to him directly. She promised that she would have Mr. Nader give me a call later that day. He never called.

So in the future if you read a story about Consumer Crusader Ralph Nader taking Microsoft to task, remember Mr. Nader has probably never had his hand on a mouse except maybe to take a dead one out of an OSHA approved trap.

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