Thursday, December 20, 2007

Portrait of a Spam Craver

My father hasn't been receiving spam e-mail lately, and he's not happy about it. I've teased him that he is probably the only person in the world who is upset about not getting enough spam. But he believes that this must indicate a problem with his e-mail, and that if spam is getting "lost" then other more important messages are probably being lost as well. He could be right, but I sent him some messages to test this theory, and they got through just fine.

He has even called tech support about this. "What did you say to them," I asked. "Was it something like, 'What happened to my spam? Give me back my precious spam, you bastards!'"

Apparently it wasn't quite like that. But they had no explanation.

"You've won!" I told him. "The spammers have given up on you and admitted defeat. All these years of resisting their ads have paid off. They've taken you off all the lists for good. You are the first man to achieve complete victory over spam!"

He didn't believe this. He said something about how inconvenient it would be to have to get a new e-mail address. He is actually considering getting a new e-mail address because the current one doesn't get spam.

But seriously, I think if spammers had some way to precisely target only those people most likely to respond to their ads, they would probably do it. They would get the same results with fewer complaints and less action taken against them. Could we be seeing the beginning of that strategy? Have spammers developed a vast A.I. that can figure out which people aren't worth bothering with? Or is my father just The Man That Spam Forgot?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crackpot Inventor Syndrome

Every once in a while I run across another internet essay by a "Nice Guy" complaining about how "women don't like nice guys, they like jerks." Usually the Nice Guy then goes on to demonstrate his niceness by saying hateful things about women, and explaining his deep insights about how shallow and evil they are.

This really reminds me of the writings of crackpot inventors, who complain about how scientists won't accept the genius of their perpetual-motion machines. Typically the crackpot inventors then take up a second project, namely figuring out "what is wrong with scientists?" They quickly discover the answer: scientists are closed-minded, they are snobs, they are jealous of the superior intellects of crackpot inventors. They are unwilling to let an outsider into their club, and even less willing to let their hard-won knowledge be rendered obsolete by the breakthroughs of the inventors. In the end, really, scientists are insufferable jerks! They don't even deserve the perpetual-motion machine! They're too immature to handle the anti-gravity ray!

Nice Guys complain that they've been "just friends" with a woman for quite a while, but -- amazingly! -- it has not lead to anything "more." This is an odd attitude, because it actually defines friendship as a type of rejection. (Try to wrap your head around that one.) To normal people, friendship is a good thing and valuable for its own sake. But to the Nice Guy, friendship with a woman is something else: it is reserving a place "next in line" to be her boyfriend. To the Nice Guy, friendship is stalking from point-blank range. (I imagine I'd find that twice as horrifying if I were female.)

I'd like to explain to the Nice Guys that they have Crackpot Inventor Syndrome, but I don't think it would work. Nice Guys aren't out trying to understand the reasons why they're wrong. They have created inside their own heads a perfect vision of how the world "ought to work." Just like crackpot inventors.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

HD Lord of the Rings

Today TNT HD is showing all three Lord of the Rings movies back to back. I'm attempting to watch it all and I'm now about halfway through. It's quite the viewing marathon, but they are pretty spectacular in HD.

Update: I did watch all three movies back-to-back. Wow, with commercials that was really, really, long. I don't really recommend it.