Two weeks ago, newly minted young Boston attorney Dianna Abdala e-mailed a prospective employer, William Korman.
"The pay you are offering would neither fulfill me nor support the lifestyle I am living," she wrote, turning down his job offer.
Korman was not happy.
"You had two interviews, were offered and accepted the job (indeed, you had a definite start date)."
He'd already ordered her stationery and business cards, and set up her office computer and was amazed she conveyed her second thoughts by e-mail.
"It smacks of immaturity and is quite unprofessional," he wrote.
Abdala's response? "A real lawyer would have put the contract into writing and not exercised any such reliance until he did so," she wrote.
"This is a very small legal community," Korman responded. "Do you really want to start pissing off more experienced lawyers at this early stage of your career?"
Abdala finally answered, "Bla bla bla."
An ordinary office spat? Nope. Korman forwarded the exchange to a friend … and it spread throughout the Boston legal community -- and then to the Boston Globe, to the International Herald Tribune, to ABC News' "Nightline."
It was the "bla bla bla" heard round the world -- making Abdala the most famous, perhaps notorious, 24-year-old lawyer in America (You can read the full e-mail exchange in the related story in the left column).
E-mail never has been more immediate, intimate and indelible -- whether FEMA director Michael Brown's e-mail jokes during Hurricane Katrina about being "a fashion god"; or disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff e-mailing about his clients, "These mofos are the stupidest idiots in the land"; or the executive of the drug company that made the banned weight-loss treatment Phen-Fen e-mailing, "Do I have to look forward to spending my waning years writing checks to fat people worried about a silly lung problem?"
Earlier this week in congressional hearings about Katrina, it came out that neither Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff nor Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld use e-mail.
Our first response? Smart men.