Baseball tradition says there are two ways a team can react to back-to-back drubbings like the pair the Mariners suffered Friday and Saturday. Really, after losing two by a combined score of 27-4, your only choices are to either throw your hands up in the air and surrender the season or flip the table and go on a buzzsaw rampage through the opposition*. But Seattle has chosen another path.

* Look, don’t take me too literally here. I mostly write fiction. I’m allowed to promote wistful memory to the status of established fact.

I get it. Nobody enough attention to hallowed baseball tradition these days. Not even–especially not even–the commissioner, who’s supposed to be the one responsible for maintaining the continuity of the game and ensuring it continues into its third century.

Instead of blowing Game Three against Houston 0-96 or thrashing them 78-2, the Ms squeaked out a 6-3 victory on Sunday, and needed 11 innings to do it. Okay, yes, given how poorly Seattle has done against the Astros over the last four or five seasons, any victory feels like a blowout win. But then the Mariners moved on to Oakland.

Monday, they managed a 5-3 win with three runs in the ninth–their first lead of the game. Tuesday, 5-1, but they didn’t score the last two until the eighth. Not exactly the stuff of buzzsaws.

On the other hand, that is three wins in a row, boosting Seattle to a season-high 11 games over .500 and, as I write this Tuesday afternoon, a mere two and a half games out of a playoff spot.

A nail file may not be as fast or efficient as a buzzsaw, but it can eventually cut down a tree. And those last few cuts are going to be darn exciting.

Moving on.

You know what I’m finding nearly as frustrating as the complete denial of reality exhibited by a large segment of the population? It’s the fixation on a single action as a solution to a large problem.

Let me put it in simple terms: You can safely ignore anyone who says “All we need to do is…”

“All we need to do is vaccinate [some percentage] of the population to stop COVID-19.” Nope. Even if we somehow got everyone vaccinated, we’d still have breakthrough cases and local outbreaks as immunity declines.

“All we need to do is get all the gas-burning cars off the road to stop climate change.” Nope. We’re already past the point where natural processes can get all the excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in a useful-to-humans timeframe.

“All we need to do is ban construction of single-family houses to end homelessness.” Do I need to crunch numbers here to show how ridiculous this one is?

These are only a few of the “All we need” statements I’ve heard people make in all seriousness in the last two weeks. And not one of them holds up to even a cursory examination.

Just say no to “All we need”.

Moving on again.

It’s been a long, long, long time since I highlighted any amusing spam. It’s odd, but the latest tactic in blog spam seems to be insulting the blogger.

“Why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?”

“This is the worst post you’ve ever written!”

“I wish you would write about something interesting like [random subject]”

And then they go on to say “Best price on [ED drug of choice] here!” Just so you know it’s spam and not an actual disaffected former reader.

Seems counter-productive to me, but given how enthusiastic the spammers are, I guess it works occasionally.

But one brave spammer seems to be taking a contrary approach. A couple of days ago, I found this in my might-be-spam folder:

“Rattling informative and great complex body part of subject material, now that’s user pleasant (:.”

For the record, it was spam. “great complex body part” was a link to a discount pharmacy of dubious quality. But I had to admire the spammer for not only bucking current trends in advertisement, but also working a pun into his pitch.


Happy Halloween!

We’re not planning to give out any candy this year–although we do have a couple of emergency bags in case someone shows up despite our best efforts to look like we’re not home.

There’s no particular reason we’re being anti-social, just a general lack of holiday spirit.

Beyond that, I am a little distracted at the moment. I’m neck deep in the third draft of Like Herding Cats–I’m hoping to finish before Thanksgiving–and I’m starting to run into the places where I got lazy in Draft 2. See, Draft 2 is written with a pen. On paper. So if I need to add a lengthy stretch of new text, I’ll often just make a note to myself: [Hey, Fred needs to explain why painting City Hall blue was a good idea.]

It’s not that I don’t know why it was a good idea. I just don’t want to have to read and transcribe half a page of my scribbles. And so I defer it to Draft 3, which gets done on the computer.

The downside is that it’s kind of like freeway driving at rush hour in a car with a manual transmission. Cruising along at twenty mph, transcribing the Draft 2 changes. Come to a complete halt while I check my notes–was it robin’s egg blue or sapphire blue–and then creep along at ten mph while I write the scene.

And then get off two exits down the road and circle back because I just came up with a great line that has to go into the new scene.

Anyway, distraction. So you get a bit of a Short Attention Span Theater for Halloween.

Moving on.

Am I the only person out there who got a scam spam of the 419 type from “Jeff Sessions Attorney General” recently?

I know the Trump administration is, shall we say, a trifle challenged, ethically-speaking. But really, Jeff, there are faster, easier, and–dare I say it–even legaler methods to separate fools from their money.

Now, you may say it’s probably not Mr. Sessions sending out these letters, and you’re probably right. Perhaps it’s some flunky in the Justice Department trying to curry favor–or line his pockets at the boss’ expense.

But there’s an more likely explanation. Read the letter I got:

Now ask yourself: who in the current administration is well-known for cranking out dozens of grammatically-suspect, logic-deficient electronic missives in the middle of the night?


Donald, put down your phone and go play golf.

Moving on.

A sneak peek at Thursday’s final summation of how I did in predicting the playoffs: I got one of the two World Series teams right. Go, me!

As others have pointed out, it’s far too soon to anoint this the Best! World! Series! Ever! But it’s not too early to say it’s been a great one so far. Close games, mostly not decided until the final inning. Lots of home runs, some interesting strategic decisions to argue about, and a fascinating sideshow in the Yuli Gurriel and Bruce Maxwell stories.

We’re getting Game Six tonight and, if the Dodgers do us a solid, Game Seven tomorrow.


I don’t know about you, but I’m having so much fun with this series, I don’t think even seven games will be enough. I’m hereby petitioning Commissioner Manfred to extend the World Series to twenty-three games. If we alternate two games in each city with a travel day in between, that’ll wrap it up with Game Twenty-Three on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving.

Let’s not forget that Los Angeles and Houston are warm weather cities. No worries about games getting snowed out. And really, isn’t twelve a much more satisfying number than four?

And the best part: consider the advertising tie-ins! Everyone can watch that climactic Game Twenty-Seven on the new TV they picked up that morning in a Black Friday sale.

What do you say? Who’s with me?

Slow Days for Spam

Today’s later-than-usual post is brought to you by Bay Area traffic, which continues to get worse and worse. That actually has nothing to do with the post, but it did get me wonder: when Google sends a daily alert saying traffic is heavier than usual, does that represent a kind of grade inflation? Should they eventually rebase “normal”?

Moving on.

Do you know how long it’s been since I looked at blog spam? Not since December of 2015. That’s a long time, considering how much spam the blog gets. The thing is, entertaining spam is hard to come by these days. The overwhelming majority today is just a solid block of links. Not entertaining at all.

But every so often something worth a snicker shows up.

In fact, kiwis contain more nutrients per calorie than another fruit. Nutrition sets rapidly with spinach left inside dark refrigerator. Does eggs spoil At first they then were simple, such like a few twigs coming from a sacred grove, and food. Ever wondered why bananas will almost always be kept on hanger in markets and supermarkets. One on the biggest budget killers you may find after you own a cafe or restaurant is waste control.

“More nutrients per calorie”? Is that really something anyone pays attention to? Why would anyone think eggs don’t spoil? Has “smells like rotten eggs” for anything sulfurous dropped out of the language entirely? In what universe are twigs from a sacred grove simple? I would have thought the presence of divinity would complicate them immensely.

Does it all become clearer when you know the spammer was selling vodka and minced garlic? They both have some value in food preservation, which seems to be his main concern.

Hi there!
I honestly can’t think of any business that wouldn’t want their business in a tv commercial.
However its really expensive and so untargeted! BUT How many sales or customers do you think you will gain if you had a commercial running when they were LOOKING for your business?
[It goes on for several more paragraphs, but they don’t add anything other than the URL.]

Really? No businesses that wouldn’t want to be on TV? “Come on down to Crazy Earl’s for all your smuggling needs! Boat rentals! Tunneling equipment! Ten percent off your first bribe!” Nah.

Okay, so it’s harder to think of a legal business that couldn’t benefit from advertising. But this guy–he claims his name is Steve–certainly has an interesting idea of how targeted advertising works, doesn’t he? Do people really watch certain TV shows when they’re looking for a plumber? Or a doctor? And if targeted advertising is so great, why is he using untargeted ads to promote his service?

The real prize the latest batch of spam, though, is Laura. Not because her pitch is creative, but because she’s amazingly persistent. Laura works in email, rather than blog comments so she can make sure you see her messages.

Wesley Surber did a good write-up of Laura’s approach over at Campfire Chess. Aside from correcting a typo, the only difference between the email he got and the one she sent me was in the generic keyword.

Unlike Wesley, I ignored Laura’s message. Apparently that was a mistake. He never heard from her again. Not only did she send me a follow-up message three days later, but when I ignored that one, she sent a third missive a couple of days after that.

Still, at least Laura is polite. She says “Thank you,” which is more than most spammers do. And, hey, she respects the relation I have with you guys. Isn’t that good to know?

All in all, though, it’s not much of a haul for twenty months. I never thought I’d be nostalgic for creative spam.

Stupid Spam

I’m continually grateful for the stupidity of spammers. They keep trying the same tricks over and over, despite abundant evidence that using them not only doesn’t get their posts seen, but actually helps filters identify the the posts as spam. Makes my job much easier.

Then, of course, there are the ones who try something a little different, only to have it backfire: instead of buying whatever they’re selling, we wind up laughing at them.

Yup, it’s another tour through my “Stupid Spam” collection.

  • The argument that it is akin to bikinis isn’t particularly convincing, particularly since the bikini could be very much a symbol of openness and expressiveness. I’m not exactly sure what this person is arguing. What is the “it” that’s akin to bikinis? Interestingly, this spammer wasn’t selling anything, just attempting to direct traffic to his incoherent rant about British Muslims wearing hijibs. Maybe he thinks hijibs are a kind of bathing suit?
  • the A most eloquent statement from a traffic attorney. It’s certainly well-researched and most persuasive. I’ll be sure to hire this guy the next time I get a parking ticket. Come to think of it, I’m surprised he hasn’t sent me a bill for the hours it undoubtedly took him to craft his deathless prose and the days it sat in the spam trap before I deleted it.
  • Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return yet again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others. I guess I’m a sucker for a compliment. It’s good to hear how wonderful the website is and that this gentleman has bookmarked it. And I certainly wouldn’t mind having the money he’s wishing upon me. Good thing he didn’t make the money contingent on buying the Nike shoes he’s selling!
  • Microwave ovens аre partixularly goօd fοr Italan cooking, еspecially for recipes suϲh as mozzarella chicken, stuffed peppers annd poot roast. Ӏѕ it аctually tҺat simple for an ordinary consumer tо makе gourmet cooking tasks. Ƭɦis is liке Disneyland too all thе chefs, bakers, and eνеn moms out therе. I can’t argue with the value of the microwave; I use mine almost every day. But for stuffed peppers? Sorry, gotta use a regular oven for those if you want to properly balance the cooking time of the meat and the pepper. And the only way to get a nicely melted cheese is, again, the conventional oven. I understand that he’s selling recipes for kids, so a certain amount of simplification necessary. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of all of the taste. Even worse, he needs to work on his kid-friendly recipe names. “Poot Roast”? Eew!
  • Indonesia have thousands of Island, the second biggest Island is Sumatera. I can say that Indonesia is ‘heaven for food lovers’. Or, you can put lemon sauce it in a separate small bowl. The whole country in one bowl‽ I know it’s a comparatively small country, but still, I don’t think it’ll fit in any bowl I’d call “small”. Now, about this indiscriminate lemon-saucing: before drenching the whole country, shouldn’t we make sure there aren’t any potential allergy issues?
  • Yet another way to improve herpes is to avoid foods comprising argenine which is necessary for the virus to reproduce. Why would I want to improve herpes? Isn’t it bad enough already? (This is a case of what I call Vizzini’s Syndrome. Nobody wants to improve herpes, Buddy, and if the Shingles remedies you’re selling on your website improve the disease, you’re looking at some nasty lawsuits.
  • I have never been on a city subwazy or bus where the seat reclines.I don’t get a reclining seat at the baseball stadium or the basketball arena. If I go to a Broadway show, my seat does not recline. That’s all true enough–though I did once attend an off-Broadway show where the audience was seated in recliners–but I don’t understand why you expected reclining seats in those venues. After I checked the link in his post, it made more sense. He’s promoting payday loans. Given the ruinous interest rates, nobody servicing a payday loan can afford to go to a ballgame or Broadway show–or even ride the “subwazy”. It’s very nice of the spammer to talk down those venues to minimize his customers’ disappointment!

All the News That’s Fit to Be Tied

There’s all kinds of news about the Bay Bridge Bolt Botch, but (a) I just wrote about it last Thursday, and (b) it’s depressing. I don’t see any reason to inflict it on you today. For that matter, I don’t see any reason to inflict it on me today. I’ll let it accumulate a little longer, and deal with it some day when I’m feeling crankier.

Then there’s the whole “Deflategate” contretemps. There’s a lovely, heartwarming post there about how the Patriots are handling the situation and how it compares to the way they dealt with Aaron Hernandez two years ago. But again, it’s depressing, and I really don’t feel like facing down the decline of civilization today. I’m going to put that one aside for a day when it’s not sunny and seventy degrees out.

The least depressing subject I can come up with today is the accumulated spam in my mailbox. I suppose I should find it depressing that I don’t find spam depressing, but if I go down that mental rat hole, I’m going to need an ice cream sundae to cheer up, and [insert deity of choice] knows I don’t need the calories.

Moving on.

  • “You don’t have to look from bank to bank to be able to discover which a bad credit score loan is the most suitable to suit your needs anymore.” Questionable grammar aside, this is some of the most accurate advice I’ve ever seen in a spam comment. You don’t have to look from bank to bank, because now the would-be loaners come to you! Incidentally, this spammer is actually selling shoes “from china”. I’m guessing that he got a bad credit score loan, and is now scrambling to pay it off. Why else would he be selling ceramic shoes?Do you suppose he could give us a good price on glass slippers?
  • “I need a good male pseudonym to use when blogging.. Sorry if this is the wrong place for the question :(. It sort of relates because I want to blog, but I don’t want my acquaintances/friends to see it..” Oh, come on. It’s been more than twenty years since we learned that nobody knows you’re a dog, and you’re still trying to come up with a pseudonym? Really, buddy, just use your real name. If any of your friends complain about your lousy spammed advertisements, just tell them it must be some other John Smith. Or Mary Jones, as the case may be. Hmm. I see your website is down. Maybe you shouldn’t have used a pseudonym and a stolen credit card number to sign up with the ISP.
  • “The Internet is a place where people can have lots of fun. This can be really annoying for individuals that utilize the network continuously. She has a plan to help you clear the way to the top.” Apparently, her plan is to sell you password cracking software. My college German is sort of spotty these days, but judging by the example pictures on the website*, her software will mostly get you into porn sites. “Lots of fun” indeed–for certain values of fun, anyway.

    * For the record, I use a throwaway, emulated computer for checking spammers’ sites. After I look, I wipe the virtual machine and start fresh. This was the first time I actually saw the sacrificial machine get infected with ransomware. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether most spammers are too intent on selling junk to bother assaulting computers, or if this one was just clumsier than the norm.

  • “I love the very first day of peeling when you’ll be able to look down your shirt while at the office, and spend for hours on end reaching your turn in there and peeling off skin in big sheets and I feel just like a snake” This is, without question, my favorite spam comment of all time. Can’t you just picture the poor, sunburned spammer sitting at his computer, trying to type up his latest come-on, while being constantly distracted by the urge to take off his shirt right there in his cubicle so he can peel the dead skin off? Look, in those long-gone days when I went outside, I occasionally got sunburned. And when I did, I’ll admit that I did find the urge to peel myself almost irresistible. But I never did it in the office, thank you very much.

    As for this guy’s claim to feel like a snake, it’s got nothing to do with his alleged sunburn. He’s selling phony virus prevention tools. The kind that open an browser window that can’t be closed because all of the buttons start downloading their alleged miracle software onto your computer.

    There’s a reason that this kind of crap is called “snake oil“. Clearly in this case, the spammer is making his own merchandise…

Spam: The Next Generation

Why yes, the blog’s spam trap is still catching strange and wonderful new marketing approaches.

Mind you, it’s also still catching huge steaming piles of all-natural fertilizer–lately I’ve been getting several hundred spam attempts a day for online dating, all of which are straight out of the boring, “seen it a million times” school of spam.

Herewith, an assortment of the creative attempts to use my blog to sell you things you didn’t know you needed.

  • gaming laptops under 600 pounds I thought all laptops were under 600 pounds. I certainly don’t want to put one that isn’t on my lap. Maybe they ran afoul of an English/Metric conversion glitch? I’d buy a 600 gram gaming laptop. That was, by the way, the entire message. No details, no link to a website, no attached malware. I have no idea how they expected to make any money.
  • When choosing the colours for you office, there are a few basic points to consider. Agcefefgakbd Another spammer who seems unclear on the concept of driving traffic somewhere: no link, no indication of what’s being sold–and no hint about the considerations involved in painting your office.
  • Human beings during Adam’s era that thought his knowledge of the times was the ultimate reality. For example, when you need reliable vehicle lighting you must try to find flexibility in mounting options. I’ve seen spam invoke biblical authority before, but never for automotive parts. And the use of Adam as the authority is interesting. Did he even own a car? Where would he have driven? There can’t have been much night life in Eden.
  • Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone! Any other considerations aside–what’s the point of having an iPhone if you’re going to leave it home where your cousin can get her hands on it–I wish you would explain how dropping your iPhone destroyed your iPad! Given some of the stories I’ve covered here, this one might actually be on topic for the blog if you come up with a few more details. However, you’re right that your game cheats website is off topic.
  • Woodman ended her life in January 1981 by throwing herself of a building after having a long period of depression. Wear old garden clothes when tending to flowering lilies inside garden to stop unwanted stained clothing. I have a sneaking suspicion that the best thing I can do to ward off depression and keep my clothes clean is to NOT buy calla lilies from this spammer. Calla lily spam was really hot for about a week. Did some florist overestimate the number of funerals in his area?
  • Article writing is also a fun, if you know then you can write or else it is complicated to write. I’m guessing this spammer thought I’m still in the QA business and used me to test his new spamming software. Hints for the future: Include a link to what you’re selling and don’t post from an account named “test3”.
  • I like reading an article that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment! You’re welcome. I like those articles too. It’s odd, though: I find it much harder to write an article that only makes one gender think. Drop me a note if you have some hints to improve my single-sex writing skills. They might come in useful if I ever decide to spam-sell sports equipment. No, wait, if I do, I’m going to want to sell to men and women.
  • Innovative high heels Guide Exposes Method To Dominate The high heels Scene I hadn’t realized there was a high heels scene, though I can’t say I’m surprised–or startled that it’s apparently linked to domination. Two questions: If everyone uses your method, who’s actually going to dominate the scene? And where do the discount sunglasses you’re selling fit into the high heels scene?
  • Here you will benefit from the elephant trip. After that you’ll discover the Metropolis Palace Advanced and museums. Is it just me, or does this message make more sense when you know the poster is selling health care products of dubious effectiveness. You had heard that many herbal supplements–most of which have never been shown to have any health benefits in the first place–don’t contain the herbs they list on the label? I’m puzzled why this was attached to my piece about Pilot Bread. Maybe the seller thinks elephants like Pilot Bread.
  • That is why we advise injecting grizzly bear adrenaline into your initially cup in the morning. Because there’s nothing better than a hot mug of bear extract to kick your brain into gear. Safety first: make sure you wear this seller’s ski gloves whenever you handle raw grizzly bear adrenaline!

Try Harder Next Time

My Twitter-inspired post about the types of spam I get reminded me that it’s been entirely too long since I cleaned out my folder of amusing spam. Since I was talking about sales on Tuesday, I’ll continue the theme and remedy the lack of spam in your diets.

Let’s start with a bit of meta-amusement. This spam was submitted as a comment on an earlier collection of amusing spam. Clearly the poster was inspired to improve on the examples in that post.

Today’s dryers can partially iron your dried clothes in your case. While shown to be quite effective for deterring mosquitoes and other insects and somewhat effective for deterring ticks, there are possible perils associated with using caffeine itself. If you can’t find eye bolts, dowels, nuts & washers with your local store, it’s better to purchase them online. The price for this dryer is around $500, also it comes with a good amount of features.

Given how rarely the content of a spam comment has anything to do with the product being sold, I was amazed to see that this one was selling washing machines. It’s unclear to me whether he’s canibalizing his sales by suggesting you get your washers at a local store, but it’s nice of him to offer an alternative. I think he’s recommending caffeine as a detergent additive, but if so, I’d appreciate some guidance on the proper soap/caffeine ratio.

It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!

Again, attached to a previous post about spam. So, Mr. Spammer, your request has been granted! And no, I’m not going to direct my readers to your blog. As best I can tell, none of them read Tagalog, so your wall of advertisements wouldn’t mean much to them.

free baby coupons

I’m not sure what babies have to do with questionable business advice. More to the point: what if I don’t need a free baby?

It is not easy to convince individuals to uproot their lives and businesses. I am surrounded by children that are pale skinned, allergic klutzes and, much to their displeasure, they inherited these genes from me.

Maybe if you stopped selling fraudulent homeopathic remedies* and got your kids actual medical help, they wouldn’t be in such poor shape. Heck, sending them outside to play instead of keeping them inside stuffing untested herbal remedies into pill bottles would help too.

* Yes, I know that’s a redundancy. Some things need emphasis.

The only way it can fail is if your husband isn’t really cheating and you were just a little paranoid. India, being the biggest democracy of the world, provides us with the right to take part in the ongoing political, social, environmental events that take place around us. Usually partners are swayed to cheat when their sexual attention is overlooked and when sexual needs remain unfullfilled.

I’m guessing that you don’t consider watching pornographic videos to be cheating, since that’s what you’re selling. Or is my assumption that you’re trying to cause your customers to overlook their partners’ sexual needs more than just a little paranoid? Where does India come into this, by the way? Your videos appear to be primarily Japanese, and your website is hosted in Germany. Are dirty movies political, social, or environmental?

Hello. Ok, i’ll introduce the author. His name is Romeo Basil. Illinois is his birth place and he doesn’t be sure to consider changing that. What he loves doing is croquet but they are struggling locate time because of it. Dispatching has been my normal work for quite a while and also the salary is really fulfilling.

Actually, no. I’m the author of the post, thank you very much, and I’ve never met Mr. Basil. That said, I’m pleased to hear he’s not planning to change his birthplace; I’m sure his parents and the Social Security Administration are delighted to hear it as well. If he loves croquet, but can’t find the time for it, maybe he should consider going professional. I’m not sure what the typical earnings for full-time croquet players are these days, but they’re probably no worse than the typical spammer’s earnings. And, since you’re such a good friend of Basil, maybe you can cut him a deal on airport parking as he flies around the world competing in croquet tournaments.

Spam–And Not the Funny Kind

Well, that didn’t take long.

I’ve been on Twitter less than a week, and already I’ve gotten as much spam at this address as I had in the previous year and a half.

Granted, we’re not talking huge absolute numbers. Before this week, I’d gotten exactly two spam e-mails. Since I first tweeted last Wednesday, I’ve gotten two more.

Let me make it clear that I’m not blaming Twitter. If you have an e-mail address, you’re going to get spam. Period. Even if you don’t publicize it in any way, you’ll get hit by someone generating random addresses. Publicize the address and you’ll get even more spam. I’m sure I’ll get at least two more spam e-mails shortly after I join [latest must-use social network].

At least in the US, there are laws to prevent spam. Unfortunately, as The Register points out, the law only allows ISPs to sue spammers, not the individuals who get spammed. Nor does the FTC have any funding to go after spammers. So if you get a few dozen–or hundred, or thousand–spam messages, you need to convince your e-mail provider to pursue the sender on your behalf. Good luck convincing Google or Comcast. Even if they took any action, the cost of investigating, much less actually suing, would far exceed any damages they could claim.

But I digress. I didn’t intend to bitch about being spammed. What I wanted to talk about is how uncreative the spammers are. I see the same spams over and over. Take the attempts to spam the comments on this blog*. They fall into four categories. As I write this, there are twenty-seven comments in the spam trap waiting for my review.

* Granted, comment spam isn’t quite the same as e-mail, but the principles are similar.

  1. Flattery – Fifteen are compliments on my wonderful writing, the lovely layout of the blog, or the great music I’m sharing. It’s boilerplate text: I get the same compliments over and over. (I include the ones asking for suggestions for tools to keep the spammer’s blog free of spam in this category. There are two of those in the current batch.) Oh, and let’s not forget the ones who claim I visited their website and they’re just returning the favor. That’s so nice of them. Why do they all think I’ll be flattered when they go on to tell me they’re planning to steal my content to enhance their own sites? (The e-mail equivalent of these comments are the attempts to offer me loans at ruinous interest rates by telling me how wonderful my credit score is.)
  2. Offers to help improve my site – Four are offers to sell me search optimization tools or pre-optimized content. I love those latter ones: no reason why I should go to all the trouble of writing content, right? Just buy schlock that used to be high in Google’s rankings and I’ll make a fortune from the ads on my site. Because of course the only reason anyone would have a blog would be to use it as an ad farm. Note, by the way, that none of the links in the four spams in the current batch actually lead to sites selling SEO tools or SEO content. Two are selling clothing, one is selling fake rolexes, and the other is, I think, offering some kind of dietary supplements. I’m not certain about that last one. The site is in French, a language I don’t know.
  3. Sales pitches – Four are flat-out sales attempts. Typically three-quarters of them are a long list of links, and the rest are a short blurb about what they’re selling.
  4. Other – I’ve got four of them in this batch. Three are the kind of word salad we’ve laughed about in previous posts. I’m particularly amused by the attempt to sell Louis Vuitton suitcases by telling me that scientists believe the cause of “the disorder” is a viral infection. I infer that the disorder in question is the need for designer luggage. Or maybe the need to send spam.

So, twenty-seven spams. One using a method I haven’t seen before: someone in Poland is trying to sell space heaters by telling me that he’s not satisfied with the content on my blog. “I have not identified what I desired,” he assures me. I’m tempted to send him U2’s latest album. Maybe that’s what he’s looking for.

Why do they keep trying the same techniques over and over, usually using exactly the same words? Do they really get enough clicks to cover the cost of renting the software that spreads the spam? (I’m not even considering the cost of the website they’re trying to lure us suckers into visiting.)

I doubt it. My suspicion is that spam has reached the point where it becomes self-sustaining. People see how much of it there is, figure that if there’s so much, it must be because it works, and they send their own hoping to get rich quickly. That means more people see more spam, and jump on the bandwagon. The only ones getting rich, of course, are the ones who write the spam-sending software.

Spam III: The WTF Issue

As usual, attempts to spam the blog comments are a problem. Most of it gets deleted automatically, but I do still have the privilege of reviewing a few that the spam-catcher can’t make a decision on. I thank the technogods for the spam-catcher on a daily basis: at last report, over 9,000 spams have been deleted since the blog launched. If I had had to delete them all manually, I would have given up in disgust months ago and turned comments off–and that’s no way to run a railroad. Or a blog.

I do appreciate the opportunity to review the borderline cases, though. How else could I find such fascinating blank verse as It is really entry levels with respect to black metallic without reserving unyielding passion to suit another function. Phantom’s screams is standard associated with genre, with a few distance given to its harshness.? For the record, I have no idea what this was intended to sell, even after looking at the linked website. But I would consider my life immeasurably impoverished if I had never been introduced to entry levels of black metallic phantoms.

The spam tells me about blog features I didn’t even know about: I visited several web sites however the audio feature for audio songs present at this web page is really fabulous. Just think, if it hadn’t been for this attempt to use my blog to sell counterfeit designer jeans, I would never have known I had been posting music!

The positive feedback helps me get through those days when the words refuse to flow. Consider this bit of egoboo; apparently even my most minor posts are fabulous. The brief “Orly?” post in which I urged people to vote in the turkey sandwich poll […]has touched alll the internet people, its really really fastidious piece of writing on building up new webpage. Oh, pardon me. It’s “fastidious,” not “fabulous.” A slight difference. I guess I won’t be buying any “parajumpers” (whatever those are) from the spammer’s site in gratitude after all.

Mind you, some of the spam is a bit worrisome. This comment, posted to last year’s Google I/O commentary, seems to be promoting cannibalism: The brick oven dishes out hand-made pizzas with the toppings of your choice: tuna, calamari, pepperoni, beef and chicken. Brussels sprouts, 5 sprout ——————————————————-3. Then grill and chop the chicken before dicing the tomato. Pithi Dastoor: In this ceremony, turmeric paste is applied on the hands and the feet of the bride and the groom. Slightly more unusual is the chicken chaat, chicken tenders with tamarind mango seasoning. Either that or it’s suggesting uses for the pigeons attracted to the rice thrown at weddings. Makes you want to reconsider your use of Nexus devices, doesn’t it?

I think this is a public service announcement for safer sex: There are safe places to go where your anonymity will be preserved. If you really did a cost-benefit analysis of sexual acting out, you might see that the benefit is fleeting and the costs’well, you know what they are. It needs a bit of punching up, and I’m not sure what it has to do with ordering songs on a CD, but I suppose it’s a worthwhile effort. I thought maybe the linked page would have the kicker to drive home the point, but no. The linked page was several screens full of apparently random gibberish. Maybe it was some sort of code. Do you suppose the NSA is trying to use my blog to pass secret messages to its overseas agents?

Speaking of “worrisome” and “safer sex”, consider this little number: Goat care becomes enjoyable when the person giving care and the goat enjoys each other. Surprisingly enough, the linked site appeared completely innocent. Intimations of bestiality used to draw eyeballs to a collection of animated gifs and low-resolution flash movies? Whatever will they think of next?

Apparently, what they’ll think of next is a whole new view of geography: The University of West Indies is also a home to many tourist attractions. It is only weak against itself, so meaning you will deal tonnes of damage against most dragons. Individuals are traveling the world when they come to Toronto. I’m not sure when UWI moved to Canada–or did Toronto relocate to warmer climes–but I suppose anything is possible when dealing with dragons. Didn’t anyone warn the Canadians that it’s dangerous to get them mad?

Still, it’s reassuring to see that there’s still creativity and energy being put into the ancient art of selling people things they don’t need.

posted through poppo in 10:30 AM in Might Several, 07

Oh, come on! You’re not even trying!

What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable knowledge on the topic of unexpected emotions. Ooh, blank verse and compliments in one post? And selling something as useful as dubious weight loss drugs? Sign me up!

Dangerous Spam

Last week I did a grouchy post on Tuesday and a more cheerful one on Thursday. That seemed to work out pretty well, so I’m going to do the same thing again this week. If you don’t want to listen to me bitch, skip today’s post and come back next time.

Still here? OK, let’s go. This is a post about blog spam, but unlike the first ones, it’s not an amusing one.

Last week I was reviewing the comments that had been trapped by the spam-catcher software, and noticed that a comment on the kidney stone post had been flagged. The entirety of the comment was “Is it possible to get off kidney dialysis? Australian specialist says it is.” I saw that and started banging my head against the wall. Kidney stones have nothing to do with dialysis and vice versa. Clearly the comment had been left by an automated spamming system that triggered based on the word “kidney”.

Out of morbid curiosity, I checked the link. There was also a link to a Facebook post which had around 600 likes (as of this writing, it’s up to 671 likes). The post consists of exactly two sentences and a link hyping a “man [who] managed to reverse CKD”. There are three comments on the post, one written by the original poster.

That link in turn leads to a post by a man who claims that by following a “great program” that “is really suitable for everyone”, he was avoided a kidney transplant and even got off of dialysis. Big red flag, folks. There’s no such thing as a “program” or course of treatment that’s suitable for everyone. Any medical treatment needs to be customized for the patient; for example dosages need to be appropriate to the patient’s age and weight. Similarly, there is no such thing as a treatment that’s suitable for all stages of a disease. In this case, the post claims the same program is good for “impaired kidney function”, “on kidney dialysis”,and “kidney failure”. That’s like saying “this treatment is good for paper cuts, haemophilia, and decapitation.”

Of course, there are comments from a few people who claim the same program worked for them too. Even assuming they’re real comments and not fakes written by the original poster, there’s no evidence that the “program” had anything to do with their recovery–or even that they were really ill in the first place. (I’m not even going to go into the whole “the plural of anecdote is not data” thing; just keep in mind that a bunch of testimonials are not the equivalent of a formal test.)

So what is this wonderful “program”? Well, according to the link, it’s a “100% guaranteed solution” that includes “Ancient Remedies, Not Commonly Known” developed by an Australian “Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist, Medical Researcher, and Author”. It goes on to claim that doctors are flat-out wrong when they say that a damaged kidneys cannot be healed, and that the program is suitable for any of a long list of kidney disfunctions “or even if you don’t know what type of kidney function loss you have” (emphasis mine). In other words, this program will help you even if you only suspect you might be sick! What a wonderful boon to mankind.

Then there’s this delightful piece of misinformation: “You can be assured of the safety of every product you put in your mouth or on your skin when you know that it has been proven by clinical trials.” Folks, some of the most effective medications out there are incredibly toxic. A clinical trial simply shows whether or not a given substance is effective in the treatment of a condition. It says nothing about the safety of the substance, especially when it’s administered in uncontrolled conditions by someone with no medical training.

I could go on and on–and did in an earlier draft of this piece–but I think the bottom line is this quote from the bottom of the page:

The way I see it, you have two choices: 1) You can keep feeling tired and depressed all the time, keep wasting money on doctor’s bills, taking drugs, etc, etc … or 2) Try [name deleted] completely risk free and begin experiencing greater energy, increased GFR, less or no fluid retention, positive outlook and all other health improvements that go with this. The choice is yours.

In other words, you can continue medical treatment backed by generations of careful scientific study, or you can trust your life to someone who doesn’t understand science and claims to be able to do something that nobody else in the world can.

This scammer, and those of his ilk are, quite bluntly, evil. They make the bottom-dwellers like Sylvia Browne look good. Sylvia’s heirs will take your money and destroy your spirit; these scum will take your money and kill you. IMNSHO, a rational society would prosecute the perpetrators of this sort of garbage for fraud and attempted murder.

Please don’t fall for this scam or anything like it. Follow your doctor’s advice, not that of a random miracle worker spamvertising on the Web.

One final note: I’m torn about whether to include the villian’s name in this post. On the one hand, I don’t want to give him any publicity, but on the other hand leaving his name out makes it impossible for someone to potentially save their life by stumbling over this page. If you have thoughts one way or the other, please let me know in the comments.