Monday, 19 February 2007

SPAMTOOMUCH!

There was a time when the ‘Spamsters’, whose tireless efforts in communication are constantly cluttering up our computer inboxes, had ordinary names like ‘Robert’ and ‘Elizabeth’, presumably hoping that if you happened to know either the Brownings or the Barretts you might be tempted to open and read their mailings.

But Sam and Pam Spamster (as I've decided to call them) have obviously got bored and are now becoming rather more devious. So, receiving a communication from ‘Rose Sanford’, you might easily be fooled into thinking it was actually from ‘Sanford Rose’ the (possibly well-known) “global network of independently owned offices in the personnel search and staffing business” when, in fact, Ms Sanford is only another of those hucksters inviting you “get your hands on fast moving stocks and short term profits.”

Similarly, if you’ve ever holidayed in Calabria, Italy, then seeing the same ‘Clarice Catanzaro’ might stir a few distantly passionate memories of a magical evening spent in a little vine-fringed taverna so that, before you know what you are doing, you have clicked on the mailing, only to discover, too late, that this Clarice is just another Viagra-pusher - albeit one who, oddly, signs-off her e-mails with a quote from The Hobbit

Personally, I have always taken real pleasure from trashing mailings on which the Spamsters have clearly spent some needlessly creative time. There is a real zest with which I delete such gloriously bizarre personalities as ‘Balloon E Vulgarest’, ‘Glaring V Dawdled’ and a character who might easily have been played by Groucho Marx - ‘Swivelling J Hopewell’.

A gentler soul than I of my acquaintance, prompted by human sympathy, asked me whether these eccentric sub-Dickensian individuals might not deserve a life beyond Junk Mail Hell?

Stung by an unexpected pang of conscience, I decided to launch a discreet investigation into the true origins of the mailings I daily receive from the likes of ‘Uzziah Legler’ and ‘Ricardo L Hemlock’.

As a result, I can now reveal that maybe - just maybe - this cyberspace freak show of mutant-identities really are, in fact, not inventions of the Spamsters at all, but people as real as you or I!

At first glance, you might dismiss ‘Lawanda Lamb’ and ‘Quincy Smiley’ as being nothing but absurd fictional monikers, but spend a few dedicated hours in company with Google scanning the records of international governments and you’ll quickly come across official lists littered with the names of people who are no more outlandish than the ‘Gretchen Hoarfrost’ who wrote to me today to offer me a very cheap imitation Rolex.

You may scoff, but consult just one such schedule - I offer in evidence The United States Department of the Interior’s lengthy directory of “Unknown People” - amongst whom you will find (or not find, as it were) ‘Margaret A Finkboner’, ‘Carl J Oldperson III’ and many others whom you can confidently expect to be sending you a few spam samples very shortly!

So, benefit from my research and take my advice, the very next e-mail you get purporting to come from ‘Alma F Rabbit’, ‘Henry Angus M Badbear’ or ‘Bobby Lee Saddleblanket, Jnr’, don’t trash it and don’t waste a second - ring the American Embassy at once - or, if you’ve got their direct line, the CIA.

It is your duty and, though I obviously cannot personally guarantee it, if you’ve helped the Greatest Democracy in the World to locate a few of its ‘Unknown People’, there may well be a reward for your vigilance.

Alternatively, of course, Mulder and Scully may suddenly break into your house accompanied by a lot of men in white suits and radiation helmets.

Let me know…


[Images from the Spam Fan Club at Spam.com, who really do not deserve to be associated with the activities of e-mial junk peddlers!]

3 comments:

Scrooge said...

I too have more than a nodding acquaintance with the persons you mentioned. I thought they were all characters from Bradbury's 'The Crowd' - put on Earth to restore the natural order of displaced imitation Rolex watches.
The reality is hardly less surreal.Your name, appearing as it does, across the net, will fall victim to the identity-gathering spiders that crawl, virtually across the world wide web, searching for names and email addresses.Similarly,other workers, more methodical, try every known christian name in front of a popular service provider eg brian@ntlworld etc. The best bet for a spam free address is therefore 8539hjqzye@ntlworld.com - that should keep you safe.
To solve a little puzzle you reference in your blog, several complex spam filters now work by checking each mail to see it has a communication in it i.e. words in a discernible pattern. They can be fooled by reproducing a paragraph of text (usually from a novel)at the bottom of the message.How lucky you got the Hobbit. I've never identified any of mine. I don't think I'm cultured enough or perhaps I just don't get enough spam !

Suzanne said...

Fascinating. Of course I already knew about "spams", but having an anti-spam thingy on my computer, I never get them, so spam still remains, to my mind, a ridiculous Monty Python sketch... oh & something in a tin as well I think!

Good Dog said...

I could have sworn a Saddleblanket minor used to be read out during morning registration by the form master.