Monday, November 26, 2012

Spam Scams

In this holiday season, it’s time to consider some of the qualities of spam—not SPAM(R), that gelatinous pork product that I earnestly hope did not find its way to your Thanksgiving table—but the unwanted email variety. 

Expert spammers have devised many ways of trying to outwit spam detectors designed to intercept spam and consign it to a cyberdungeon.  Marketing expert Herschel Gordon suggests a number of ploys, most important of which is avoiding a giveaway word like “free” in the subject line. Instead, he says, try “no charge” or “it’s on us.”
Other words that may trigger spam filters and that should be avoided in the subject line are complimentary, sale, discount, loan, fun, buy, own, approved, saving, win—and, of course—those old email standbys, Viagra and Cialis—which is why they show up so often as V#%G@A and C#+L*S.
Another method to fool the filters is to generate random text to accompany the ad copy, so that no two messages are exactly alike, even though millions may be sent. At first, these random sentences seem like pure gibberish, but occasionally they rise to the level of poetry, albeit with a Dada-ist tinge.  Try reciting the actual examples printed below, which are from a recent spam letter, reproduced verbatim, but rearranged as free verse. 
Oh, by the way--full disclosure: one stanza below is not spam gibberish but an excerpt from a well-known twentieth-century poem.  Can you spot the real poetry amidst the fake?
A narrative renders a pardon,
A pot thinks!
An electronic bump humbles through worship,
The coal smells any token,
The country colors over the degenerate frown,
The cube dips the obstructed race.
Another troop jokes?
Should the constraining guide bend the incident?
Does the army laugh?
The sickening addict rots near an operator.

Another ownership sauces the sermon,

A translator butters the chance,
The influential arcade chooses the radical temperature,
Around the spit gossips a believable sun.
When will the crossing material consent above the undergraduate?
The zero adjective progresses.
The god decays inside the authentic sophisticate,
The holder attends within our snobbery.

The marriage turns!
Our mountain stills the geology,
The ancient bicycles above the spotted ditch.
The heaven chalks?
The tribe talks?
The silver mirrors catch the bright stones and flare,
Dawn, to our waking, drifts in the green cool light;
Dew-haze blurs, in the grass, pale ankles moving.
Beat, beat, whirr, thud, in the soft turf under the apple trees,
Choros nympharum, goat-foot, with the pale foot alternate;
Crescent of blue-shot waters, green-gold in the shallows,
A black cock crows in the sea-foam.
Below the dictator decides an abysmal highway,
Before the pun boils an asserted convict.
How will the gulf wet a slogan?
The abandoned mark sugars an independence,
The wrecked sophisticate despairs against the risen biography,
The baking stereotype bays,
The uncle truncates a cable,

The sect coughs beside the geographical shadow.

Why won't the radical revolt?
The jaded Bard of Buffalo Bayou is unimpressed by these poems—both the faux and the real—having effortlessly written tons of equally incomprehensible gobbledygook himself.  To wit:

           Whenever I feel a little bit bibberish,
            I drink some wine and write some gibberish.
            That’s why you’ll find a Babel of nonsense
            On the pages of my table of contents.
            But I am not a stellar spammer,
            Or one well-versed in mellerdrammer.
            When I write, I jot tomfoolery—
            Just dribbles of my dot-com droolery.
Oh, yes, in case you’re interested: the seven lines beginning “The silver mirrors catch the bright stones and flare” are from Ezra Pound’s Canto IV. 

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