I recently went away for two weeks and came back home to find over 8,000 e-mail messages waiting for me, 99.99% of which were spam. If ever there were doubts in my mind that I needed to get a life-long prescription for Viagra, a penis enhancement, lose fifty pounds, and have a fling at barnyard sex, they are gone. Giving in to the spammers may be the only way left to get rid of this incredible new and awful intrusion into my life.
I didn't take my laptop with me during this two-week trip to Europe because I (correctly) feared being overwhelmed by a very expensive dial-up deluge when I logged in from overseas to check my e-mail. And since coming back home and downloading this megaton of junk the highly sophisticated anti-spam filter on my MacOS X system is now slowly going out of its mind and is in danger of collapsing from sensory spam overload. Worse, I also deleted important messages from my inbox because my own sensory system failed after repeatedly pecking the delete key like some crazed pigeon in a Wonder Bread feeding frenzy.
The Internet is rapidly approaching cardiac arrest. It's T3 coronary arteries are being clogged up by fatty cholesterol e-junk in quantities that will soon surpass all known matter in the universe. In all of the bleak and scary futuristic scenarios envisioned by sci-fi authors like William Gibson, et al, none of them talked about a simple and mundane thing like spam crashing down our shiny chrome cyber-life. And when all the dot coms were being funded during the halcyon go-go IPO 90's, did any of their business plans mention that their spiffy new on-line efforts might be rendered useless and undone by hordes of slime ball spammers? I doubt it. That's the problem with trying to predict the future--Everyone almost always gets it wrong.
Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission has finally decided to turn up the heat on junk phone calls from telemarketers with its launch of the National Do Not Call Registry . Sign up, list all the numbers you don't want being annoyed on during supper time or any other time, and the junk phone callers must stay away--or else face stiff Federal fines. So how come we also don't have a National Do Not E-Mail Registry?
The answers to that are numerous and complex. A phone call still requires a more or less physical place of origin that can be easily tracked down. Spammers, on the other hand, can hide in plain sight, literally right under your nose as they can surreptitiously hijack your PC and make it a spam relay station for millions of junk e-mails. You are especially targeted and vulnerable if you have an always-on broadband connection. If the bastards nail you, about the only thing you might notice is a small slow down in PC performance. Meanwhile, congratulations, you have just been shanghaied into the all-volunteer spammer army. (Do yourself an anti-spammer relay favor and get a good firewall program like Norton Firewall or Zone Alarm, and also install a spyware detector like Ad-Aware from Lavasoft, ).
Meanwhile, various folks from different telemarketing associations are currently popping up on TV proclaiming that with the advent of the FTC's Do Not Call registry they may now start using e-mail to target their zillions of messages at hapless consumers. Close one big sewer pipe and the garbage just gets rerouted to another, so now we can look forward to even greater torrents of spam coming our way.
I am thinking of starting up a 10 most wanted spammer list. Their punishment will be that once they are discovered and found guilty their punishment will be to sit in a room and be forced to manually delete every single junk mail passing through the Internet. And oh yeah, they also must pick up the constantly ringing phone and listen to a sales pitch about that great land deal in a Florida swamp. Hey, wait a minute, that's what I am doing now! If Dante were still alive he would be busily using his word processor to cook up another circle of hell, provided, of course, he somehow found the free time between annoying interruptions to write it.
Copyright 2004, Francis Vale, All Rights Reserved
21st, The VXM Network, http://www.vxm.com