Speaking Approximately, This Is Historical Titillating

This is an old blog that has mostly outlived its relevance, if any, though I know in the back of my mind it’s out there and every once in a while I’ll read back on something and think, “Not bad” or, “How the heck did I miss that typo?” I still write the occasional post, though only a handful ever get any readership to speak of.

The site still gets lots of comments, though — spam comments, by the dozen every week, most promoting some sort of fly-by-night Viagra site or athletic shoe site or transparently dumb money-making scheme. I’m sure all of them are the product of bots of some kind that spit out nearly random words and hit enter, then move on their relentlessly mindless way to the next rarely visited site. Because there’s a spam filter on the comments, they don’t get published. It’s a small pain to go through and delete them all from the filter queue; that’s not something I need to do, really, it’s just sort of a rote, mechanical chore, and I only read enough to make sure there’s not an actual comment hidden amid the garbage.

Taking a look at the spam queue last night, I realized that perhaps I’m being too harsh in my judgment of comment quality. After all, it’s usually quite complimentary of the high and very helpful nature of everything I’ve ever published. So, as I delete the latest mini-volley of spam comments, here are some of the choicer ones:

From louriOptino (on a post about visiting family graves in Chicago): This is historical titillating, You are a concrete veteran blogger. I shut wedded your spend and perception insolent to search more of your magnificent transfer. Also, I’ve unrefined your web place in my mixer networks!

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Curry 5 (on the family graves post): I needed to create you one tiny note so as to thank you over again with the unique techniques you have provided in this article. This is quite tremendously open-handed with you to make freely all most people could possibly have offered as an e book to help with making some dough for their own end, notably now that you might well have done it if you ever desired.

My Spam Friends

Here’s an “is it just me?” question: Over the last three weeks or so, I’ve seen a blitz of spam to my main email address that I have never seen before. The come-ons are the same, mostly, but with one significant difference: They’re addressed to me by name, and they use my middle name. Some use my home address as well. I find this vaguely disquieting, even though I know that information is public, somewhere or other (but not on Google. There are zero matches for my full name on Google). Associating my full name with my email–not such an easy trick, which leads me to believe that somewhere or other I made this information available (or perhaps some “secure” database somewhere was compromised).

Anyway, back to the question: Anybody else getting personalized spam.

Lucky, Lucky Winner

One of the best things about the Internets of late is that one can win unlimited riches through lotteries around the world without even entering. In just the last couple of days I’ve gotten emails informing me that:

  • “…You have been selected for a cash prize of £1,350,000 (One million, three hundred and fifty thousand, pounds sterling)held on the 26th of September 2007 in London Uk.” (Oddly, this one’s from the Irish lottery.)
  • “…You have been selected for a cash Price of 1,000,000.00 (One Million Pounds Sterling) in cash … from International programme held on the 27th of SEPTEMBER 2007 in the United Kindom. “
  • “…You have been selected for a cash prize of £1,000,000.00 (British Pounds) held on the 27th of September 2007 in London Uk.”
  • “…You have won our International Charity Awards of US $1,000,000.00 dollars during the past 2007 Global Internet Summit titled “Discovering Greatness”, held in the London, United Kingdom.”
  • “…Your mail account have been picked as a winner of a lump sum pay out of Eight hundred and ninty-one thousand,nine hundred and thirty-four Great Britain pounds£891,934.00 pounds sterlings) in cash.”
  • —“The Board of Directors of NETHERLAND LOTTERY PROMOTIONS announces to you as 1 of our 10th lucky winners of this month draw held on 27th of September 2007. … Your email address emerged alongside with 9 other as the first category winner.Consequently you have therefore been approved for a total pay out of 2,000, 000.00 (Two million Euro) only.”

So let’s see: Thanks to my having an email address — thanks, Yahoo! Mail — I’m 4,241,934 pounds, $1 million and 2 million euros richer today than I was yesterday (the only real headache in all this new wealth is figuring out how much it comes to in real money — the low, low U.S. dollar. Let’s see: According the the calculator at xe.com, those pounds are worth US$8,678,971.27. The euros are worth US$2,852,599.07. And the dollars are worth, well, less than when I started writing this. So my haul for today is $12,531,570.34. I’ll give those 34 cents to some panhandler. I’ll pay off my credit cards — finally! — with the rest.

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Circle of Friends

A former colleague of mine who went into freelance writing a few years ago has scored a significant career success: he has a new semi-weekly column in the Sunday New York Times business section. The general topic is technology and innovation. I admit to a twinge of envy: what a great gig. That’s small of me. My former colleague (MFC) has worked very hard to move from doing niche technology stuff and writing about things he didn’t have a lot of interest in to establish himself and then move beyond it to where he is now. Maybe I should just say “way to go” and shut up.

But that is not my way. Here’s something that MFC does in connection with his column that sort of annoys me: He spams me and I don’t know how many more of his acquaintances with an alert to each new column. The messages are more than, “Hey, everyone, check out my new article.” They’re written with a bit of a hook; this week’s, for instance, has the subject line, “My new NYT column is about … You.” Yeah, I’m vain enough that I looked just in case he had found some aspect of my life or career scary enough to serve as a cautionary tale for his readers. But no: That was just a come-on, and it ended with a nudge to spread the word about his column to others.

If this is a sin, it’s venial, not mortal. What bugs me, though, is that one, I didn’t choose to join this email list; two, getting off of the list requires me to do something that feels rude: “Hey, there, great to hear about your column, but please don’t send me any more email about it” (is writing a post about it less rude?); and three, MFC acts as though his circle of acquaintances is just another group of marketing targets.

Yes, sure: When I recently had my little Las Vegas article published, I broadcast that fact in a blog post and offered a link to the piece. I think the difference is that visiting this site and partaking of its sublime smorgasbord of observation and wit is a voluntary act; I’m not pushing anything out to anyone, and the only people subjected to my profundities are those who come looking for them.

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Spam Poem

I got a great email the other day from Brandi Talbot. The name alone says she wants to make me big or rich (or both) or hook me up with potent but dirt cheap pharmaceuticals or give me loads of no-interest credit. I never opened her message, but her subject line was pure randomly generated art:

“Of sing on punic whir.”

I can almost hear those words coming out of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s mouth:

“I dreamt I dreamed

Hannibal in the Alps without elephants

Blood running Roman down Tiber and plain

The empire bled white centurions dismounted

Of sing on punic whir.”

Well, maybe not Ferlinghetti. Someone.