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February 25, 2009

The Seven Deadly Sins of my spam trap
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:32 PM *

Lust: Phwaar! snort

Rita invite You
to: abi
from: Betty Jorgensen

To look through Rita (19 Y/O, Latvia) profile and photos, please, follow the link…

Gluttony: Lose weight forthwith! Not a myth!

Want To Fit Into Your “Skinny” Jeans Again?
to: abi
from: Skinny Patch

(content blocked by virus checker)

Greed: Show me the money!

URGENT NOTIFICATION.
to: undisclosed-re
from: Barr. Adreas Vlachos

Attention: Sir/Madam,

We do not know each other, but you are one of the three persons I sent this email with hope to get a positive and sincere response, in order to go into a deal that would bring life fortune to both of us…

Sloth: Give me the good stuff, but don’t make me work for it.

Want the degree but can’t find the time ?
to: abi
from: Hawk Yancho

If you are more than qualified with your experience, but are lacking that prestigious piece of paper known as a diploma that is often the passport to success…

Wrath: Grr! Arrgh!

Politicians!!!!
to: Abi, [other friends and family members]
from: [loopy acquaintance of long standing, all of whose emails go straight to spam]

did you ever wonder? I couldn’t figure out why would the Congress let some firms go under and then bend over backwards to help others. This makes sense now!!!!!! This sounds almost too logical…… why hasn’t it gotten national press coverage?

Envy: I want what you have

Get Bigger Pennis
to: abi
from: Coy Britton

Hello! Tired of wasting your time and money on ineffective pumps, weights and exercises…?

Pride: I am a special and unique snowflake!

YOU HAVE WON!!!!!
to: undisclosed-re
from: LOPEZ

SPANISH MICRO SOFT LOTTERY
EMAIL BALLOT
FROM DESK OF PROMOTION MANAGER{EURO MILLIONS}
YOUR EMAIL ID HAS WON $1,500,000.00(ONE Million,Five Hundred Thousand Dollars) in the first category of our computer ballot lottery…
Comments on The Seven Deadly Sins of my spam trap:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 04:46 PM:

Well, under Envy they've clearly misspelled 'pennies'. Though getting bigger ones would require the cooperation of the mint, so it's laughable that they think anyone would fall for...

...what? It is?

OMFSM.

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 04:50 PM:

I've seen spam offering porn, where the offer is hiding (not very well) inside a quote from the Bible.

The better (funnier) examples get saved as text files.

#3 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 04:53 PM:

I am just so tired of ineffective pumps, weights and exercises!

Wait... Exercises?
Wait... Weights?

The pumps I understand from watching Austin Powers.

#4 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:01 PM:

Things I don't think I'll ever understand:

Why I want to get larger roosters. Actually, I think that keeping any poultry at all would be a violation of my lease terms.

What good a diploma from a "prestigious, non-accredited university" would do me. I'm happy with my one from an accredited university, thanks.

How some guy I don't know from Nigeria got my email address, and why he thinks that large bank transfers happening all of a sudden won't make my bank suspicious.

Why I would want a "genuine immitation Rolex". Also, why I would want a real Rolex, for that matter.

What I would do with fifteen large pens.

Why I would want to order prescription pharmaceuticals all the way from Russia. At least, I assume that's what they're offering, as I only know about half the Cyrillic alphabet.

Why people believe any of these things at all.

#5 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:02 PM:

There seem to be some wannabe authors among the spam writers. Recently I got one that went beyond the formulaic sob story and had a complex plot involving the FBI needing my info to help trap Nigerian spammers. There was both a vaguely threatening suggestion that I was in cahoots with the Nigerians, as well as an offer from the FBI to let me skim the profits from the "recovered" funds.

#6 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:04 PM:

Many large pennies are collectible. Condition is very important; however, one is extremely unlikely to find them in an uncirculated state.

#7 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:11 PM:

I like the diploma mill spams that offer to sell you "the degree you deserve!"

There is a sense in which they are, for once, telling the truth.

#8 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:24 PM:

How is a genuine immitation Rolex different from a fake immitation Rolex? Would the latter be a real Rolex? Or an immitation of some other kind of watch? Or something spelled correctly?

#9 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:27 PM:

*just barely resists sending Nangleator a link or two to "exercises" and "weights" designed to produce a larger p3n15*

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:33 PM:

I am still trying very hard expending much effort to read Earl's comment in such a fashion that does not tempt me to reply with Way Too Much Information about coin condition in other parts of the world.

Hem.

#11 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:50 PM:

I liked the one I got involving an 'estate' left by someone killed in the Paris air crash, where they cited the need to meet a deadline - which had passed two years before than the date on the e-mail.

It's right up there wtih the 'American soldier' whose English is neither American not fluent.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:59 PM:

Hawk Yancho will be back in Penis from Heavin'...

#13 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 05:59 PM:

Here's a science fictionally tinged spam mystery:

Lots of spam emails and dodgy websites try to hide their badness from automatic filtering software by nestling between slabs of legitimate text (as mentioned by P J Evans at #2). The strangest example I've seen of this is:

"to dawn gate where the angels are"

which is a snippet from a marching song sung by soldiers in Gene Wolfe's _Book of the New Sun_. I was actually using that as a search term because I wanted to read the full lyrics, not because I wanted to find a dodgy porn site.

In a similar vein, the t-shirts popular in Asian countries, and now entrenched in the west, which are covered with snippets of pointless, ungrammatical or irrelevant English: I saw a girl wearing one the other day which prominently featured the phrase:

"walk away from Omelas"

What has the world come to? And what would Ursula LeGuin think?

#14 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:03 PM:

Was the 419 scam from Dick Cheney an actual spam, or was it a spoof on someone's blog?

#15 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:08 PM:

P J Evans at #11 writes:

> It's right up there wtih the 'American soldier' whose English is neither American not fluent.

Beyond a certain level of dumbness, spam is inexplicable:

At my current workplace, I keep getting email from Ukranian women who want to marry me. Now this is silly in the first place, as I'm already married to a half-Ukranian woman, so I need at most 1/2 of a Ukranian bride, but also - the emails typically start with something like "Hello, my name is Svetlana and..." and come from something like "natasha@...".

Would it really be so much trouble to get the names to match?

#16 ::: anaea ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:14 PM:

Several months back I got spam with the subject line, "Hot naked men for playgirls like you," as the subject line. Encouraged by the blow for gender equality I actually open the email...

...which proffered Paris Hilton sex tapes.

#17 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:22 PM:

Debbie @ #5:

Some of the savvier mugus (Nigerian conmen) have realized that the absolute easiest group of people to scam are those whom someone else has already successfully scammed out of money! You might think the marks would have learned from bitter experience, but the kind of people who fall for these in the first place mostly aren't the kind of people who learn from experience. Thus you're getting emails (blasted out in the millions) which would make sense to you only if you'd already lost a bunch of money to a mugu.

Some variations I've seen include:

  • Notices from the FBI that they've recovered some of your money and you need to contact them to get it back;
  • Offers from the Nigerian Attorney General to get your money back if you cooperate with them to catch those crooks who swindled you;
  • Threats from the FBI or US Treasury that you have been caught laundering money from overseas and will be prosecuted unless...;
  • Notices from a UN agency which has set up a special fund to compensate victims of such scams;

... and so on.

#18 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:29 PM:

P.S. abi, your exemplary list of the seven deadly sins had me snorting and chuffling here at work. There was no point even trying to explain.

#19 ::: Zeborah ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:36 PM:

I'd be tempted to swap greed and pride - the lottery scam is pure 'look, free money!', whereas the various box-of-money/dying-person/next-of-kin scams often say they're writing to you because you're so trustworthy etc.

#20 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:50 PM:

Steve Taylor at 13: I would love to have a shirt which says "Walk away from Omelas"! Hell, I may just go out and make myself one. I suppose, if your native language is Japanese, that such a statement on a shirt might be culturally irrelevant -- but maybe not. A lot of Japanese read English, and I am sure that LeGuin's fiction has been translated into Japanese.

#21 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:54 PM:

Wesley, #7: Just so.

Xopher, #9: Ow! I'm not even a guy, and thinking about that makes me cringe!

#22 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 06:56 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 8: To further muddy the issue, often the ones advertising genuine immitation Rolexes in the email subject want to push ersatz Tag Heuers or Cartiers in the email body.

Xopher @ 9: I am interested in a rather academic and also horrified way. It's not like it's a muscle.

Steve Taylor @ 15: Yes.

#23 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:09 PM:

Lizzy L at #20 writes:

> I would love to have a shirt which says "Walk away from Omelas"!

It made me feel like I was a member of a secret society - one that the wearer of the shirt didn't know about. Probably.

> I suppose, if your native language is Japanese, that such a statement on a shirt might be culturally irrelevant -- but maybe not.

I identified it as an Asian trend as that's where it seems to have originated, but it seems to have well and truly escaped into the English speaking world. I saw the shirt on the streets of Melbourne Australia, where we speak a rudimentary form of English and the wearer of the shirt was, if memory serves, anglo.

#24 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:22 PM:

I remember that one of the first spam messages I got, back in the early 90ies, was a mail from a private eye in West Virginia, who said that she could investigate my enemies for me (I believe she'd probably harvested e-mail addresses manually, and I was even so naive as to actually answer the mail, telling her that I wasn't interested, especially as I lived across the Atlantic). Apart from the fact that I do not know of any enemies (at most, minor nuisances), I think that having a private investigator from West Virginia come to Norway would hardly be a discreet way of dealing with them (nor would getting a Norwegian private investigator to travel to West Virginia, if I were a citizen of that state, presumably).

#25 ::: Chaos ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:30 PM:

My best spam message was amusing only for it's mismatch of address and content. It was a standard "your loan has been approved" spam message, offering to loan me $331,000.

It identified itself as having come from "lesbians" and I have no idea what I was meant to make of that.

#26 ::: Christopher Kastensmidt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:34 PM:

Fantastic post, one of the funniest I've seen in a while. Too true!

#27 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:34 PM:

#4: "Why people believe any of these things at all."

This gets to my number one reason why I hate scam-spam. It pretends to be personal and sincere, but at the same time insults me with its sloppiness.

It's the text version of the panhandler who pushes a wheelchair to the side of a left-turn lane in full view of drivers, then sits down and waves around a sign asking for help because he can't work due to his handicap.

* * * *

Best spam subject line *E*V*E*R*:

"Tunnel Planet Game Skeleton Clown Toilet Window"

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:42 PM:

My favourite came to me by snail mail, and informed me that someone with the name of an actual relative of mine had died recently (the Dead Bank Customer scam). It asked if I would be interested in submitting my information, blah, blah, blah.

I was fascinated to think that someone in Valencia (la ciudad española, por supuesto) had found my actual address and come up with a plausible decedent's name to attract my attention. And then gone to the trouble of sending the letter. The scumbags picked the name of an uncle who died in 1971 (and who had never been anywhere near Valencia)*, but how were they to know.

*My father, on the other hand, lived in the Comunitat Valencià, though not in the city itself, for several years.

#29 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:45 PM:

xopher @ 9:

I was actually helping my husband with a precursory patent search over the weekend (yay for the full-text-since-1975 patent database online), and did run across a patent for a device to be applied to that body part. It was to be held on by vacuum, and featured plastic extrusions that allowed weights to be affixed to the outside. I don't have the number handy, but I'm sure a judicious use of search terms would turn it up readily.

No, my husband was not looking for such a device. I think the search terms I was using centered around "safety interlock". I'm not quick sure what the safety interlock for this device was, I didn't read it that closely.

#30 ::: Kirilaw ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 07:48 PM:

Steve Taylor @ 13, Lizzy L @ 20 --

I, too, would love to have such a t-shirt. But then, I have a drawerful of shirts that I think are wonderfully clever but that require far too much explanation for those not already in the know...

#31 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 08:41 PM:

I've seen whole Yahoo groups derailed by flame wars about whether circulated or uncirculated pennies are better. And to tie in with another thread for a moment, they sometimes make analogies to vaccination.

Lust, pride, and envy are at work.

#32 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 08:41 PM:

Lust spam: penis extension

Wrong gender in my case.

I have noted mind-bogglingly archaic synonyms being used for this body part in my spam (mostly Gmail): rod, yard, etc. These must have been found by machine-mining dictionaries. I can't quite see spammers saying to each other, "Hey, it's time to go look up Johnson's Dictionary."

#33 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 08:50 PM:

sara at #32 writes:

> I can't quite see spammers saying to each other, "Hey, it's time to go look up Johnson's Dictionary.

And the pun of the week award goes to Sara.

#34 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 08:58 PM:

Tired of wasting your time and money on ineffective pumps...

Clearly aimed at someone with a series of failed job interviews. If Clarice could only have seen the handwritten note from the Personnel interviewer: "wears cheap shoes".

#35 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 09:37 PM:

Most of the spam I receive these days is not in English and not even in Engrish; it's mostly various Asian and Cyrillic fonts. The Cyrillic spam started to notably increase a year or two ago, at least for me.

#36 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2009, 11:12 PM:

Safety interlock?
Doesn't sound safe to me.

#37 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 01:26 AM:

For those who are trying to figure out how weights play into this, I suggest you Google the term "foreballs." ("And how do you know about this Bruce?" "I used to read Dave Barry.")

My favorite response to Spam was one written by someone who had clearly suffered through both the "David Rhodes Make Money Fast" e-mails and online pyramid offers and took both to their logical conclusion. It was called "Make Penis Fast" and explained if you cut an inch off and send it to the name at the top of the list you'd end up with a 50,000 inch penis. It had a fair distribution as I remember it. (Second place would be to someone who had run a legal document sent out by Henson Associates! through the Encheferizer. Bork, bork, bork!)

#38 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 02:34 AM:

Possibly the simplest way to make pennies larger is to stamp them flat in a hydraulic press. Somehow I doubt that's what those spammers have in mind.

#39 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 05:00 AM:

I was entertained over one holiday season to receive several messages, helpfully already flagged by my internet security software, so that they read "Spam: The Ideal Christmas Gift!"

Cue visions of festivally-wrapped tins of luncheon meat.

#40 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 06:45 AM:

Juliet @ 39: My mom would love one of those.

Why yes, she's from Hawaii, why do you ask?

#41 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 07:11 AM:

Inquisitive Raven:

It was either Hawaii, Korea, or she's a time traveler from WWII Britain.

#42 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 08:15 AM:

Bruce @ 41:

And they're a staple of Philippine gift baskets too.

#43 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 09:03 AM:

My office is dealing with an outbreak of a virus from spam, and I'm a bit surprised by the whole thing because the spam is one that I've been getting (and deleting, natch) at home for over a year.

I'm absolutely astonished at how apparently prevalent "open the attachment first, then figure out what it is and who it is from" is. Maybe the spammers get enough money from random clickthroughs that they don't actually need anyone to buy what they're theoretically selling. But that would end up being turtles all the way down, wouldn't it?


Re: pennies and changing their size -
I don't know anything about enlarging pennies, but they shrink rather entertainingly if you use a high energy magnetic field on them.

#44 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 09:35 AM:

Add me to the list of folks who would buy and wear a t-shirt that said "Walk away from Omelas" (particularly if LeGuin were getting a cut). Good sentiment.

OTOH, "Milk Ball" is right out.

#45 ::: Mashell ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:00 AM:

#27 My Mom's first ever visit to NYC, we were driving up a block near Riverside Park in thick traffic and watched a man push a wheelchair (with great effort) up the hill. When we finally got to the light we watched as he sat down in the chair, put out a sign and a cup and began to ask loudly for donations. Years later we still laugh about it.

I recently got an email addressed to 'Dear Lady' advising me to click the link below to update my
"Flasy Player". I'm embarrased to say I am not quite sure what a flasy player is, or where mine is located.

#46 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:43 AM:

Xopher #9:

Yeah, there are weights. You attach them and let gravity do its slow, inexorable thing to your...thing. I kind of doubt they work. Now, on exercises, there are some for women in that region but not for men that I'm aware of. It's not like you can do curls or pushups with it, after all.

Here at work we're getting the "the credit union has a problem with your account, call at
xxx-xxx-xxxx for information", except the phone # is nowhere near our area code and our CU is state employees only (no out of state offices).

#47 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 12:46 PM:

John L @46: Maybe you can't....

#48 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 01:23 PM:

Well, John, kegels ARE supposed to help with erectile dysfunction...but the won't make anything larger, just more toned (and not THAT thing).

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Post-post post: they. Dammit.

#50 ::: Andrew L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 01:38 PM:

Just recently I've found myself getting flooded with variations of the following two subject lines:
"America's largest Christian corporation is hiring!"
"America's largest Green corporation is hiring!"

There's a certain charming cynicism in the implication that "Green" and "Christian" are mutually exclusive, rather than orthogonal...

#51 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 01:40 PM:

"...a link or two to "exercises" and "weights" designed to produce a larger p3n15..."

I guess I'll do the research on my own. I suspect the weights intrinsically include their own punishment for the foolishness of believing in such schemes.

#52 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 03:40 PM:

A true story:

Several years ago the Arizona AGs office had busted a penis enlargement spammer and confiscated many million dollars of ill-gotten profits, and set up a compensation fund for his victims. The money sat there, and sat there, and sat there with virtually no claims coming in.

Apparently the same men who will happily send their money away to crooks balk at submitting a claim form to the AG which says, in effect, "I am extremely gullible and I have a tiny penis."

#53 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 06:15 PM:

#46 : Dayak women used to start with small ear-weights and work up to heavy ones, ending up in extreme cases like this (photo of Dayak woman on Flickr).  I guess you could stretch your ...thing... in the same way, but I doubt if the result would work very well.

#54 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 07:00 PM:

xopher at #9:

Didn't David Bowie write a song called P3N-15?

What? That's TVC-15? Never mind.

#55 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 07:01 PM:

I used to get enlargement spam which suggested that I could, ultimately, "use it as a lasso" or "use it to bash through a concrete wall". Both of which sounded like really bad ideas.

#56 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 07:05 PM:

I brought my baby home, she, she sat around forlon
She saw my p 3 n one five, and then baby's gone, she
She crawled right in, oh my
She crawled right in my
So hologramic, oh my p3n one five
Oh, so demonic, oh my p3n one five

#57 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 07:45 PM:

# 55 inspired me to look for the animated short "karate dick boys" but it is not on youtube or anywhere like that.

#58 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 08:17 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 55: About that concrete wall -- a girl's gotta have her standards.

#59 ::: Jill ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 09:36 PM:

Amidst all the threats to freeze my non-existent bank accounts, and the offers to enhance my other non-existent assests, I was amused recently by one spam email promoting a wonder herb to enable me to lose weight 'just like Oprah'. Hmmm. Last time I glanced at a trashy mag at the hairdressers Oprah seemed to weigh ... nearly as much as I do. So I'd best take note of this wonder herb. Next time I want to lose a pile of weight then put it all back on with interest, it should be just the thing.

#60 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 10:17 PM:

MICRO WORD informs me on a regular basis lately that "You e-mail address have win . . . "

I don't stay to find out what.

#61 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:16 PM:

spamusement.com

#62 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2009, 11:17 PM:

http://www.satirewire.com/features/poetry_spam/01free_runner.shtml

the 23rd Spam

#63 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 02:26 AM:

I got one today that said:

"Equip your battleship with main caliber"

#64 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 07:33 AM:

Daniel Boone #63: And blow it up in Havana?

#65 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:07 AM:

Fragano @ 64: If I were Serge I'd be constructing an elaborate historical pun involving micturition and yellow journalism, but my heart's just not in it today....

#66 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:52 AM:

Mark @ 65:"my heart's just not in it today"

Well, it didn't take me lung to figure out your problem. You're starting toe high. If you set your sights lower, you'll bowel us over with your fabulous pun, and then we can all rib you merci-lessly.

#67 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:59 AM:

Daniel @ 63: "Equip your battleship with main caliber"

I thought we already covered those enlargement schemes?!

#68 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 09:43 AM:

"Do you want a bulky p0le?"

Not really, but I did work with one, years ago.

#69 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Rikkibeth @ 58: About that concrete wall -- a girl's gotta have her standards.

If you say so... to me, that sounds like one would be getting into "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" territory.

#70 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 11:39 AM:

Fragano Ledgister #64: I'm thinking maybe, sometimes a sixteen inch gun is just a sixteen inch gun?

I got one today that offered to supersize my tomatoes.

No, really, the subject line was:

"Supersize your tomatoes with Tomato Giant!"

After wondering for a moment which body parts were supposed to be metaphorical tomatoes, I carefully examined the message content. Oddly enough, this message did appear to be spam aimed at gardeners with Beefsteak envy.

#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:11 PM:

Ginger 66: Kidney cut it out with the anatomy puns! I can't stomach any more of them. They make medulla and dulla the more of them I hear. But I don't expect I have much liverage to make you stop; you'll keep bladdering on in this vein whether I find it humerus or not. So I'll ulna ask this once, and then I guess aorta leave you alone.

#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:27 PM:

Mark #65: Clearly, you wanted to be a Rough Rider when you were younger.

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:29 PM:

Jon Baker #68: Sure it wasn't an 11-foot Ukranian?

#74 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:31 PM:

Daniel Boone #70: Clearly they were hoping to Oxheart some influence over you.

#75 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:33 PM:

Xopher #71: I suspect that you'll just have to toe the line, and show some heart. There's not need for such a thyroid.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:38 PM:

Xopher @ 71... You nailed it pretty thoroughly. I think the thread has reached a cul-de-sac. Either that or we kneed a warning sign that says "Enter at your wrist and peril"

#77 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 12:50 PM:

Serge @ 76: Maybe we should start an appendix to collect all these puns. Some people might not be able to stomach them.

#78 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 01:02 PM:

One I had this morning "Price and Specifications Click for drying corn" -- agricultural spam

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 01:12 PM:

KeithS @ 77... An appendix,or a footnote?

#80 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 02:35 PM:

The best spam response I've ever seen was actually in one of Harry Turtledove's Videssos novels, where the Roman legion is marching down the city streets and a peddler yells "Buy this! Make you good for seven times a night!"

One of the soldiers responds "Keep it -- why would I want a potion to slow me down?"

#81 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 03:34 PM:

Somewhere, I still have my "Green Card Lawyers: Spamming the Globe" T-shirt.

#82 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 04:12 PM:

Xopher @ 71: Boy, now eye really feel like a heel. I guess I'm not such a good pupil after all. Embouchure others feel the same way, so I'll just butt out.

#83 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 04:12 PM:

Serge @ 79: I think it would take a lot of intestinal fortitude to wind through a footnote of that size. Perhaps this is a decision toe leave for the editors.

(Eye see that Xopher beat me to the stomach pun. Oops.)

#84 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 04:14 PM:

And Ginger just beat me to the eye pun! I'm offal at this.

#85 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 04:22 PM:

Keith @ 84: At least no one has called you a knucklehead. Who nose? Maybe you'll come up with something that's not udder tripe.

#86 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Joel: regarding the concrete wall: It's a reference to Real Genius

Him: If there's anything I can do for, or to, you, just let me know.
Her: Can you hammer a six-inch spike through a board with your penis?
Him: Not at the moment.
Her: A girl's gotta have her standards.

I am afraid I'm a bit under the weather, and organic punning is probably beyond my abilities, at the moment, rather than labor in vein. I shall retire from the field, integument intact, hanging on by the skin of my teeth to the idea that I can miss the sorts of glands a weak effort would engender.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 06:03 PM:

Ear today, bun tomorrow.

#88 ::: Karl T, ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 07:47 PM:

It occurs to me that to have really effective steganography, not just obscuring what but whom, one would have to not only scramble the content, but scramble the targets, so that it was impossible to tell the actual recipient of the coded message from thousands (or millions, or billions, or ...) or false messages, something like a tiny coded bit of aluminum foil among a mass of shiny radar-defeating countermeasures.

Then I thought, no, no one would ever come up with millions (or billons, or ...) of messages to nonsense destinations, just to conceal a few very important and highly coded missives. It would be a tremendous waste of resources, and surely the common carriers of such messages would complain, and somehow put a stop to it.

Unless the common carriers got a cut, somehow.

#89 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 07:56 PM:

Back in 2006 I had this thought on Spam.

While glancing through my spam trap, I realised that all the scams were trying to take advantage of fear and/or greed. The greed motivated ones interested me most. I had the feeling that the designers of these scams were assuming that the people they were sending them to were just like them - greedy, open to a slightly dodgy deal - but not quite as smart.

I'm never going to respond, not because I'm smarter than them or their victims, nor because of my honesty and virtue, but because my sin is pride (or maybe sloth). I'm motivated by different things, things that (I assume) are outside the scammers model.

Also it offends me that their scams are so blatant. Do they think I'm an idiot? Can't they show some professionalism, a little flair, a touch of craftsmanship? All these scams are mass-produced from a shoddy production line.

(Of course even in the days when I had more money than sense I didn't actually have enough money to make it worth anyone's while to construct an individualised hand-crafted scam)

#90 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:37 PM:

I once got spam offering to sell me software for keeping track of my flock of sheep.

#91 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:44 PM:

The knitting thread's* over that way, Erik.

*hur hur hur

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 08:55 PM:

Neil, #89: IMO most spammers are outstanding illustrations of Dunning-Kruger syndrome. They think they're smarter than the people who are reading what they send out -- when in fact they are not competent enough to recognize their own incompetence.

#93 ::: Stephen Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 09:11 PM:

Neil Willcox at #89 writes:

> While glancing through my spam trap, I realised that all the scams were trying to take advantage of fear and/or greed.

A little but not too much off topic: an old friend of mine has just started bombarding everyone she knows (including me) with email about Lifewave Patches, sticky patches which are nanotech/quantum mechanical/powered by tiny gnomes and will cure all known ills, with poor vision and childhood autism just for starters. Unsurprisingly they're sold through a multi-level marketing organisation.

I wrote back to her saying it sounded like a scam, and that it being an MLM did it no favours either. Now she's deeply offended by my cruel cynicism, and dissapointed by my unthinking negativity.

I wonder if I should have ket my mouth shut?

And I wonder how much she paid for her starter kit?

Sigh.

#94 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 10:19 PM:

One particular email that prompted me to complain that the phishers were taking stupid pills involved the classic "We need to you to do X to keep your account with our institution open" message allegedly from Chase Manhattan Bank. The big giveaway, even if I had been a Chase customer, which I wasn't, was that at the time I got the email, Chase had been JP Morgan Chase for at least a year. I knew this because I used to own Chase stock.

#95 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 10:22 PM:

Stephen Taylor @#93: My sympathies! The thing to realize is that some of the MLM schemes are run almost like miniature cults -- the high-level types propagandize their recruits, and provide pat answers for all the "standard challenges". I've lost friends that way, folks who got desperate in various ways.

#96 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2009, 11:40 PM:

Stephen, #93: "Unthinking negativity," my ass. That's thinking negativity!

As to whether you should have kept your mouth shut, I guess that depends on how willing you are to keep fobbing her off with excuses for why you're not buying her Dr. Feelgood's Magic Cure-All -- because until she hears something like that, she is certainly going to keep pushing you to buy it. I speak from bitter experience, my father having gotten caught up in a MLM scam for a while. It wasn't Amway, but the other one that's a clone of it.

#97 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 12:09 AM:

Some time ago, on the "Fun With Charts" section of I Can Has Cheezburger, there was a Venn diagram entitled "The contents of my email inbox". It had three interlocking circles: Grow a bigger penis! Get a better job! Lose weight now!

The intersection of the 3 was labeled "From my wife"

#98 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 12:47 AM:

Erik: I got the sheep-herding software spam roughly monthly, for at least a year. I minded it less than most spam just because it gave me so much to muse about: Are there lots of shepherds on the Internet? What features are shepherds looking for in flock-tracking software? Really, someone is making money by doing this?

#99 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 01:56 AM:

I find "industrial" spam oddly charming.

"I am Mr. Barnard Chen of Sudyar Quality Manganese Yoke Welding . . ."

Or an Indian fellow offering me 134 varieties of tweezer.

It's mailbox clutter, but I get the feeling that it is in earnest. I'd rather be mistaken for a guy who needs sintered bismuth paste that someone who needs boner pills, or is stupid enough to think that Barrister Christian St. Mallory will send me $45,000,000.

#100 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 04:34 AM:

Karl T @88:

"Miranda"

#101 ::: Per Chr. J. ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 05:02 AM:

Stefan Jones @99:

I was also a bit surprised to find that quite a lot of the Russian spam a work account got was about rather heavy agricultural equipment. Of course, there is a lot of agriculture in Russia, but it agricultural machinery is not excactly over the counter commodities.

#102 ::: Auke ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 05:45 AM:

I was sitting on the couch, working on my laptop one night with my wife sitting next to me. Then, an Outlook window popped up showing some strange Russian address and saying: "Hey, why dont you ever mail me? I posted my nude pictures especially for you at ...!"

I was torn between deleting it immediately or first showing it to my wife to avoid suspicion. Then again, saying: "Oh, uhm, what a strange spam email!" might be even more suspicious...

Needless to say, my wife found the guilty look on my face hilarious.

#103 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 06:52 AM:

Auke, If you haven't already, you might want to turn off the Outlook Preview/Reading pane.

#104 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 08:08 AM:

I used to work for a manager named Terri. Her husband was named Frank. One day I got a spam offering videos of "Frank & Terri's love life" - she thought the offer was hilarious.

#105 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:16 AM:

I've already posted it in an open thread a while ago, but I still think one of the weirdest spams I've ever gotten was "IT Consultant of perfect love making art". Wtf? How are IT consultants more connected to "perfect love making art" than any other professions? Is that mail advertising the sercives of people who supposedly know some neat tricks to improve the software of your sexbot? Or is the message something like "With our product, women/men/whatever will be as much into you as they are into someone who makes enourmous amounts of money as an IT consultant"? Or what else is the point?

#106 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:56 AM:

The other day I got a 419 scam as follows:

My name is Sgt.Brian Horn.of the Contract Unit of US Military here in Baghdad-Iraq,we have about USD$29.7 United States Dollars that we want to move out of the country.

The thought of a crack team of US soldiers resorting to dubious measures to smuggle a pocketful of loose change out to a safe haven made me laugh.

#107 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 10:24 AM:

I was looking yesterday at a piece of spam one of my co-workers received. The senders's e-mail was claiming to be a barrister in London, but the e-mail inside the letter went to an address in China. (The usual 'heir to a small fortune' letter, actually. In bad English.)

#108 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 10:55 AM:

Inquiaitive Raven #94: I got something similar purporting to be from South Trust Bank -- of which I was a customer -- about six months after that bank was swallowed by Wachovia. Financial news moves very slowly in Nigeria, it seems.

#109 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 11:41 AM:

Lee @92 - I think there's a bit more to it - they're as minimally competent as they need to be to get, say, 1 in a million hits. Too many hits, and they won't be able to deal with them all, plus they attract the attention of law enforcement; no hits and they try a bit harder with the next one. Related, everyone has blindspots, and if a particular message hits dead on for someone, the flaws don't matter as they are invisible to that person.

IT Consultant of perfect love making art

Well, IT makes every thing more efficent, and consultants help you improve your organisation and processes... no can't make it work. Although maybe it would tie in with the sex with robots thread.

#110 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 12:10 PM:
#108 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 10:55 AM:

Inquiaitive Raven #94: I got something similar purporting to be from South Trust Bank -- of which I was a customer -- about six months after that bank was swallowed by Wachovia. Financial news moves very slowly in Nigeria, it seems.

Or they're deliberately targeting people who aren't up to speed with the latest news because they're likely to be easier marks.

#111 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 12:13 PM:

People actually bother to read their spam? Why?

Most of the time I can (and do) junk it without even opening it. The tiny percentage where I'm not sure from the subject line/sender (mostly at work, where I err on the side of caution) gets junked before I finish the first sentence. Why would I want to waste my time actually reading the stuff?

#112 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 12:34 PM:

#111

I do. Once a month or so, for the sad pathetic fun of it. And I wash my hands afterward.

#113 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 02:13 PM:

For a while, most of my allegedly-from-a-bank spam was claiming to be from a Quebec credit union (a perfectly reputable one, but I don't have an account there, or indeed with any Canadian bank).

Right now, I have lots of spammers who think I need help satisfying my woman. Some, but not all, of those have subject lines that imply that they believe me to be male, though I suspect that were I foolish enough to open them, I'd discover they were all aimed at men.

#114 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 02:48 PM:

Raphael @ 105:

Think Revenge of the Nerds. "Jocks only think about sports, nerds only think about sex."

Okay, I know that's not really what they meant, but it makes sense to me!

#115 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 05:42 PM:

Mary Aileen @111:
Why would I want to waste my time actually reading the stuff?

Because it shows the glorious variety of humankind, particularly in its failure modes. How can one read these examples and not be agog at the personal failings of both the senders and their intended recipients?

Also, every now and then someone my spam filter doesn't know tries to get in touch.

#116 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 07:13 PM:

abi (115): How can one read these examples and not be agog at the personal failings of both the senders and their intended recipients?

True. I suppose I have a low tolerence for being agog. :)

Also, every now and then someone my spam filter doesn't know tries to get in touch.

Right. But that's usually pretty easy to pick out of the dross.

#117 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 07:22 PM:

abi & Mary Aileen: For the most part, I don't bother reading spam because I find it simultaneously boring and annoying. I think it pings the same button as trying to read a book with an irritating or incompetent protagonist; my reaction tends to be, "I have to deal with enough people like this in real life, I don't want to READ about them when I'm trying to have fun!"

Reading things like this thread is more like listening to other people's slush-pile stories, or reading fanfic that a few trusted friends recommend to me. I let them wade thru the piles of Sturgeon's Law so that I don't have to!

I do check my spambox about once a month, and open anything that I think might be a false positive -- but those are rare, and I can tell pretty much immediately whether something is a false positive or actual spam. Beyond that, I'm with Mary Aileen; I have better uses for the time I'd be wasting on it.

#118 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 08:35 PM:

Occasionally, one of our work email addresses will receive an email purporting to be from "Google Ad-Words". Since we do have a Google Ad-Words account, these messages do get checked.

Invariably, the link in the message goes somewhere other than Google, and the message is sent from a yahoo.ca or a hotmail.com account. They couldn't at least send their spam from Gmail?

#119 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 08:59 PM:

#23 ::: Steve Taylor :
>Lizzy L at #20 writes:

>> I would love to have a shirt which says "Walk away from Omelas"!

>It made me feel like I was a member of a secret society - one that the wearer of the shirt didn't know about. Probably.

Not much of a secret society. Who else remembers ismo?

#78 ::: Henry Troup:

I've been getting the corn-drying spam, too. I expect they've found some unusually clever way of getting past spam filters.

#89 ::: Neil Willcox:

The people who write spam seem to be idiots trying to get the attention of those less intelligent than themselves, but I've got some respect for the people who figure their way past spam filters-- there are few jobs that make it so necessary to pass a Turing test.

#98 ::: Clifton Royston:

IIRC, there was a news story about a sheep owner who put a cell phone(?) with GPS(?) on each of his sheep to keep track of them.

#120 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2009, 09:18 PM:

Okay, I found a new one today. An alleged receipt from Paypal for some kind of porn purchase. A couple of years ago, I got bogus dispute notifications from alleged eBay users about merchandise never received. I've bought a few things on eBay, but never sold anything, so I wasn't fooled. All of these messages got forwarded to the appropriate security department.

Also looking at my (or rather Gmail's) spam trap today revealed a bunch of messages apparently from me with a subject line: [store name] invoice:
and a message preview of "We ship everywhere. Worldwide. All locations." The store name would vary with the email, but the funniest one was iTunes which, of course, doesn't ship a damn thing because all their products are downloaded.

#121 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 04:39 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz at #119 writes:

> Not much of a secret society. Who else remembers ismo?

Certainly not me, and Google doesn't help.

Enlightenment pls?

#122 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 05:51 AM:

abi @ 100: [*]

I'm sorry, I'm probably just having a slow day, but "Miranda" by itself just conjures up images of people on hidden planets being read their rights. So now I'm very, very confused. Please elucidate?

#123 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 10:01 AM:

I once got a spam message claiming to be from a time traveler whose time machine had broken down. It asked me to transport a "dimensional warp generator" (the broken part of the unit) to the specified coordinates and then email to a specified email address with payment instructions.

Even spam is occasionally interesting...

#124 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 10:35 AM:

Something about this thread has reminded me of the time I got a personalised letter offering me treatments for receding hairlines. "How the hell do they know my hair's receding?" I wondered before figuring it out.

#125 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 11:40 AM:

Eileen Joy, at the medieval studies blog In the Middle, has shared a 419 letter she received from Hæleð Wulfgar.

I am so sad to report that my liege-lord died of a terrible spear wound in a battle with some filthy, godless heathens and we have been weeping and crying over this because now there is no one to give us rings, but we also have all these silver pieces from selling fen plots and we have no more forever a great hall to put them in: cattle die and kinsmen die, thyself too soon must die [or, in your language, where is the horse and the rider, where is the horn that was blowing, they have passed like rain on the mountains, etc.]--you get the picture.

#126 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 01:30 PM:

Karl T @122:

The "hidden planet" element is the one I was referring to. That was a very widely broadcast message with, embedded in it, a specific and hidden payload for one particular recipient.

In other words, what you were describing in comment 88.

#127 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 02:40 PM:

abi @ 126:

Indeed. I think the lack of volition involved in River's response to the 'message' she received blurred the similarity of the two situations for me.

I'm just wondering what sort of messages would be so important that subverting an entire global communication system to the point of reducing its effectiveness by a couple of orders of magnitude (plus all of spam's other secondary effects) would be seen as an 'acceptable price' to obscure the messages' sender, recipient, and content.

But then, maybe the reduction in effectiveness for the masses is seen as a feature, not a bug.

#128 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2009, 03:08 PM:

I'm just wondering what sort of messages would be so important that subverting an entire global communication system to the point of reducing its effectiveness by a couple of orders of magnitude (plus all of spam's other secondary effects) would be seen as an 'acceptable price' to obscure the messages' sender, recipient, and content.

I can't help thinking that if in the 80s you outsourced your covert communications and some bright spark in corporate headquarters came up with a way to make a profit from the cover story you'd end up with something like this.

Of course if you can make a profit from it, other people will copy what they think is your business model. This isn't a bug as it provides an even greater smokescreen. And you've designed your messages to make it difficult to locate the source and impossible to block...

Meanwhile, an agent somewhere has failed to get his/her activation code after they forgot to check their spam filter.

#129 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 04:47 AM:

Today’s spam-offerings, and as much of their text as I can read without opening them, are

BUSINESS PROPOSAL - my interest to partner with you..., from Shi Jianmin,
COGRATULATION!!! - ADMYN DE LOTERIA No 2 C/CERVANTES..., from LOTERIA ESPANA,
No more Zinc shortage for your organism functions. – Don?t wait..., from gagamagnus,
Don?t let respiratory pathogens to spoil your life. from orrjemaine, (same original use of question mark)
Exceed the limit of passion, apparently from me,
Award winning notice, from the delightful-sounding Mrs. Dayzer’s Loterij, and today’s winner, (to the tune of Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder),
Care about your couple’s banging, also from me.

#130 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:27 AM:

tykewriter #129: Don?t let respiratory pathogens to spoil your life. from orrjemaine, (same original use of question mark)

Isn't that a Mac copy-and-paste artifact? I see strange quote mark substitutes in similar cases as well.

#131 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 08:36 AM:

me, at 119

Ismo by John Verney, a YA novel about a pro-peace conspiracy. The book is even more obscure than I thought it was.

The title is from a Latin tag which I don't remember exactly, but which is translated as "I arise afresh under a better omen".

#132 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 08:38 AM:

128: brilliant. Someone tell Charlie Stross.

Good point at 88 about having to conceal the recipient as well as the text - this, of course, was the idea behind putting encrypted (or just cryptic) messages in the classified ads section of the newspaper. (Nothing suspicious about reading the newspaper, officer!) Or the "messages personelles" read out on the BBC World Service during the war. Or the shortwave number stations.

#133 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 09:33 AM:

It'd have been interesting if Contact's mysterious message had turned out to be spam. After all, the aliens might have seen our old TV broadcasts as exactly that. Or maybe life itself is spam.

#134 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 09:35 AM:

myself @ 133... maybe life itself is spam

The theory of panspamia?

#135 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 12:02 PM:

Serge @133: I think there has been more than a couple of SF stories fitting that notion. For one, A for Andromeda fits the description.

I vaguely recall a 1970s serialized Analog story that also fits, but I'm not ambitious enough to dig it up.

We'll be in trouble when planetary security depends on, no one on earth, clicking on that link, on the interstellar internet connection.

#136 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 12:22 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 135... I am rather disquieted by this excerpt from A for Andromeda:

Fleming realises that the message contains a set of instructions for the construction of another, more advanced, computer and for a program to run on it. Bridger, meanwhile, has sold out to an international conglomerate, Intel.

Intel?

#137 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 02:29 PM:

Fresh spam:
My name is David Adams a practicing lawyer in the United Kingdom.
I want to seek your candid collaboration in handling a business venture that I feel would be mutually beneficial to you and I.
May I ask your permission to present you as a beneficiary to the will of one of my trusted clients?
My client and his whole family members where involved in the Sharja air crash on the 25th of July 2004.

[snipped, but the usual pitch about getting the money out of the bank before the government seizes the funds]

Yours sincerely

David Adams
PLEASE REPLY TO THIS BOX
Email:promosport@traxport.in
EMAIL;dansukia@4tune.it
email; dddd4david@gmail.com

A little inconsistency in those e-mail addresses there, for 'a practicing lawyer in the UK'.

[weird line breaks removed for readability]

#138 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 03:04 PM:

P J Evans @ 137: If any lawyer wrote something as atrociously bad as that, being disbarred would be too lenient a punishment by far.

#139 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Intrigued by that Latin phrase in Ismo, searching for a reference, haven't found it yet (anyone with a copy?), but turned up several comments* about the book. John Verney's Callendar family series sounds very like what I read at a certain age, was published around the right time, but never came to notice — probably not in my school or local library.
*Comment: “[R]emember the secret gesture that signalled ... you were part of ismo? It involved placing one's fourth finger on one's chin. For a time in my girlhood I did this quite often in crowded places, but no one ever seemed to pick up the clue.”

#140 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 03:27 PM:

Err … sorry, my comment supra followed from Nancy @131, & preceding. Dawn here quite pretty; distracted; need a cuppa; other excuses…

#142 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:06 PM:

It was spam, serge, on-topic for once. Gone now.

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:31 PM:

Abi... I was hesitant because the last two times I identified something as spam when it wasn't. Meanwhile, 'name' is back.

#144 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:37 PM:

I think my perl regex should stop them now. We'll see; I speak perl with a thick Word accent and I should be in bed about now.

#145 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:46 PM:

Right, I have a regular expression in place that should put the "name" spams to moderation and let others through.

It may be a bit grabby. If things are getting caught in moderation, post a comment or ping me and I'll clean it up tomorrow. (Be patient. I have a life.)

I'll remove the regex when this wave of spam is past.

#146 ::: Fragano Ledgister seeth spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 05:49 PM:

From someone with even less imagination than the average purveyor of pink online luncheon meat.

#147 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 07:05 PM:

abi @ 146... I have a life

"Life! It's wasted on the living!"
- Eric Roberts as the Master.

#148 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 07:21 PM:

Serge @ 148: "Life! It's wasted on the living!" - Eric Roberts as the Master.

Huh. "Life is wasted on the living" is also a line from Zaphod Beeblebrox IV. I wonder if that line in Doctor Who was intended as a Douglas Adams tribute.

#149 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 07:42 PM:

#148, #149: Douglas Adams wrote a few Dr. Who episodes, and as I recall was also a script editor.

#150 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 07:57 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz at #131 writes:

> Ismo by John Verney, a YA novel about a pro-peace conspiracy. The book is even more obscure than I thought it was.

Thanks - I haven't heard of it, nor even of John Verney - though that doesn't necessarily mean they're obscure!

#151 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2009, 08:15 PM:

#151 ::: Steve Taylor:

Nonetheless, the book is quite obscure. There's only one copy for sale at amazon (note left little finger on chin), and more indicative, no one else here seems to have read it.

I'm surprised I've read a mass-produced book which is marginally sf (secret social organization with a chance of making a difference-- it's almost secret history) that doesn't seem to have crossed anyone else's path.
If you're interested, check your library-- the Philadelphia system has a copy, and some other Verney I might check out.

#152 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 03:35 AM:

The worldwide economic downturn has even hit the spammers:

How are you today? Hope all is well. Please be informed that I have decided to contact you for a fund transfer transaction worth the sum of US$9.
#153 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 05:58 AM:

150: I will always regret that they never made "Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen", the script that was later turned into "Life, the Universe and Everything".

#154 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 09:22 AM:

Nancy @152 I read ismo a few years ago, having got into that series via Friday's Tunnel and February's Road, but have not been able to get my hands on a copy. I'm still looking for Seven Sunflower Seeds too, though I've got the first two and Samson's Hoard.

I also assumed thought it was better known than it was.

I should see if the library system still has a copy...it might be time for a reread.

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 09:30 AM:

Joel Polowin @ 149... Since that movie with Roberts as the Master came out in 1998(?), I presume that line was a homage to Adams.

#156 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 11:21 AM:

more fresh spam:
"Is this for Real?"
The short answer is "Yes!" HHOHHU.COM llc has developed a fully operational water fueled home heating system. This unit can operate as an independant home space heater, or as a furnace hybrid along with your existing forced air furnace. This revolutionary system is scaleable to produce enough heat for virtually any area. Producing "0" emissions, "0" green house gases, "0" carbon monoxide, "0" flourocarbons while supplying safe, reliable heat at a fraction of the cost of conventional heating units. By capturing energy from every process in the conversion of water to hydrogen and oxygen and magnifying the heat with it's unique hydrogen heat exchanger, HHOHHU.COM llc. has finally brought this life changing technology to the public.

Right. Sure. And your heat-magnifying hydrogen heat exchanger works how?

#157 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 11:54 AM:

Squeak! I wasn't planning on buying Ismo (tho' if anyone (Hilary?) finds a non-deaccessioned copy in a library, I do want to know this Latin phrase ismo is purportedly derived from), but idly checking my usual Oz used-book source I find 35 John Verney books:

21 of 35 are Going To The Wars. A Journey In Various Directions (“Part journal, part biography, part novel, part reflection, Verney describes his years as a soldier ... in the army 1937-45”). Was this a far better seller, or are biography/memoir and true-history war books more likely to be kept, or seen as saleable, than old-fashioned, outdated ‘childrens' books’?

Of the 12 other titles, 10 only have one copy listed for sale, and the general price range is $AU10-$AU35.

Excepting ismo: a single first edition in Very Good condition, described as “a very elusive book”, at *gulp* $AU175.00 … I doubt I'd manage a profit by importing cheaper, less good, copies and dribbling them onto the market, but the concept tempts.

#158 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2009, 01:23 PM:

Mez @158 There is one stray copy in the Westchester Library System according to the catalog. I have placed it on hold, and we shall see if it arrives.

#159 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2009, 12:33 PM:

P.J. Evans:

Sounds a little bit like the $2k fireplace that was announced a couple of years ago where you filled the tank with water so it could (courtesy of a 220v plug in from the panel as I remember it) crack it into hydrogen and oxygen and then enjoyed a nice non-wood fire...

#160 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2009, 01:18 PM:

#160
You noticed that little unexplained detail also, I see.
(Physics and chemistry: it's good for something!)

#161 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2009, 02:50 PM:

Earl Cooley III @153 --

My spammers seem to have become more unassuming as well. From the IRS:
"After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Tax refund value is $189.60...."

I also think it's wonderful how the IRS has adjusted their highfalutin' bureaucratese to go with the times:

"If u don't receive your refund within 9 business days...."

#162 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2009, 03:15 PM:

As a US citizen and resident of California, it's amusing to receive spam claiming that I am owed a refund from Inland Revenue.

#163 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2009, 03:38 PM:

Ah, that's an easy one. An extensive search has shown that you are the last living blood relative of a recently-deceased British zillionaire. Hir tax refunds, along with the rest of the fortune, will be coming to you.

#164 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2009, 06:51 PM:

Somewhat astonishingly to me, given the hit-or-miss aspect of a library system run by our state Department of Education*, there is a copy of Ismo in the juvenile closed stacks at the main branch. There are two copies of Seven Sunflower Seeds, one on the Big Island and one on Maui. The main branch also has one copy each of February's Road and Friday's Tunnel.

Are they any good? Should I request them?

*Motto: more administrators! Fewer teachers!

#165 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2009, 10:38 PM:

The non-profit educational portion of the Tax Code... too precious.

Except for those who send along their information.

#166 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2009, 08:37 AM:

Linkmeister @165, I'd give them a try, though they aren't to everyone's taste.

The order is
Friday's Road
February's Tunnel
Seven Sunflower Seeds
ismo
Samson's Hoard

The copy that the Westchester Library System claimed to have is now in my hands. I am doing a full reread, though, so it will have to wait a little while while I work my way through the first three.

#167 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2009, 03:56 PM:

Hilary H @ #167, Thanks. A few more items for my requested list (now up to about 17, I think).

#168 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2009, 05:36 PM:

And look what just arrived!

"Hi,

We've seen your website at http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007946.html
and we love it!

We looked at your traffic rank and your link popularity.

With that kind of traffic, we will pay you up to $4,800/month
to advertise our links on your website.

If you're interested, read our terms from this page:
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The xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx"

#169 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2009, 09:49 PM:

Heavens, the Callandar family! I remember them, and Ismo, quite fondly. The idea of an anarchist state based on the model of English golf clubs stuck with me. Ismo also inspired me to pick up a biography of Garibaldi (I suspect I was around 12 or so), and started me on a lifetime of reading non-fiction and history, cause it's just so interesting. It also gave me a habit of unconciously resting my finger on my chin, but that's another story, and I've long since dropped it. (Yet another source of merciless teasing from my peers.)

I think that Ismo was actually from Italian, and was something like the last letters of "anarchismo."

Steve - I have no idea how well they would stand up, but they would certainly be quick and probably pleasant.

#170 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2009, 12:24 AM:

At one point I got a piece of spam talking about my cousin Scott ***** who had died in a plane crash and left me X, and I needed to claim my portion of the inheritance. I have, in fact, fallen out of contact with my cousin Scott from whom I actually do get some things if he dies intestate, so I did a quick google. He was still posting in his blog that morning.

This was a particularly morbid piece of spam since his father my uncle died in a plane crash about a decade ago, and our fathers' cousin died in a plane crash about two years ago. It was a few tense moments until I checked. Sometimes the spammers come far too close to home. But there'd been no recent crashes and he was just fine. I stared breathing again after that.

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