Monday, December 18, 2006

Spammed If You Do, Spammed If You Don't

Lately, I've been getting my big news from the screen in my office elevator, running Captivate. It's a terrible way to get news, but it passes the time on those long elevator rides, and eliminates the awkward silences of complete strangers trying to ignore each other.

Recently, a vision bite mentioned that about 90% of all e-mail traffic is spam. Ouch! That's a lot of stock tips and low-interest mortgages. I get about equal numbers of messages informing me that bored housewives are waiting for me, and that I need to enlarge my genitals. These seem contradictory to me, but I haven't taken the time to sort it all out.

Lately, I think the dominant spammers are pump and dump stock traders. They buy some penny stock, and then send out 10 million messages advising you that's it's going to go sky high. If even 1% of the spam targets actually buy any stock (a percentage much lower than the actual National Stupidity Quotient), that's 10,000 people helping these spammers to make a killing on their investment.

I generally support the U.S. Constitution, but I believe we ought to allow cruel and unusual punishments for spammers. The resources they cost, in terms of computer and communication assets and human time, are astounding. If we could harness all that power for good, instead of evil, Vista could have shipped on schedule! So I say bring back public humiliation. Spammers should be locked in stocks in the town square. Or dunked in decaf. Or, to let the punishment fit the crime, per Gilbert's and Sullivan's The Mikado, they should be forced to ride elevators all day and read all the Captivate bites.

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