Janet (j4) wrote,
Janet
j4

Junk in the box

Before I start rambling about SPAM, thanks to everybody who's given me such useful answers to my questions about databases -- especially rysmiel who sent some really detailed information about actual real databases in the wild, and Lou who pointed me in the direction of lots of interesting reading-matter (much of which he wrote). I haven't really had time to digest it all yet (that's "digest" in the sense of "assimilate and extract useful stuff from", not in the sense of "bundle into one long email which can be shelved as a whole rather than accruing a little bit of guilt for each individual component") but I'm slowly chewing my way through things.

*

Today I got a spam with the subject line "September". I was hungoverly thinking about time-management so I absent-mindedly read it, and it took me two reads to realise it wasn't a plan or a horoscope:
Second month you will notice an increase in size of up to 1 inches, plus an increase in Girth (Width) of 5%, plus all the benefits of the first month.
An increase in size of up to 1 inches? Could that tall dark stranger be a grande mocha latte with chocolate on top?

But that's not the spam I intended to write about when I thought 'oh yes I should write about this' like two months ago. See, recently I've been getting more and more of the sort of spam that cleanskies wrote about recently, the sort that actually sound like news stories.

Some of them sound like real news stories: Hurricane strikes Lousiana, thousands dead, Obama withdraws support for Israel, Hillary Clinton hurt in car crash, Florida typhoon leaves thousands homeless. They make me double-take briefly (with a guilty start of "oh god how did I miss that on the news ... oh wait I don't really read the news except out of the corner of my eye in other people's RSS feeds"), but the thing is, I don't get real news in my inbox; my friends don't send me news articles very often (and when they do it's usually the ones about badgers or geek stuff), so they don't quite 'work' -- plausible content but in the wrong context, and my brain fairly quickly flags them as spam.

Then there's the ones which are like reading the celebrity gossip or MY EX'S GHOST USED MY STEPMUM'S CAT AS SEX SLAVE headlines on the junk magazines as you wait in line for the supermarket checkout -- you don't know or care if they're true, but your eye is still caught (despite its best intentions) by Unemployed To Be Used For Soup, Horse kicks Harrison Ford in stomach, Snakes found eating corpse, or Boy breaks tooth from biting dog, before dismissing them (like the magazine equivalents) as spam.

Then there's the ones that sound like the sort of 'and finally' (or 'and spoofily') news articles that I might read if I was bored: James Bond To Have Gay Lover In New Film (actually, this was the Daily Star's April Fool, and a jolly good idea it is too), or Rupaul: Ron Paul Is My Brother!, Bush and Mccain Dance Ballet, or Paris Hilton Lectures On Dickens And Dostoevsky. (uisgebeatha has some more lovely examples of subject lines which are heading even further into the realms of silliness.)

One feature of all these spam subject lines, which makes them quite unusual in the murky world of inbox irritants, is that they're all correctly spelled -- pretty much the only one I've seen which might have been an error was Sarah Jessica Parker Arrested For Gross Negligee, though that might belong in the 'silly' category above (either way, it'd make a lovely Spamusement). The general level of literacy means they're far more likely to sneak under my radar, even if they're not the sort of thing I'd normally expect to get in my inbox or the sort of thing I'd bother reading. Yes, it's spam for middle-class spelling-fascists!

So far so bad. But the problem comes when they feature headlines which are the sort of thing people might send me, and headlines I would read. And I'm ashamed to say that one headline managed to make me read the email, without even thinking about it, despite a spelling mistake: iPhone 4G sneak peaks. Yes, readers, we have proof that the iPhone has softened my brain... Since then I've nearly been tricked by Yahoo sold to Microsoft, record price, and iPhone 3G bugs causes recall of stock. So, spammers, basically, if you want me to read your emails, put "iPhone" in the subject line. Fact.
Tags: spam
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