[ISN] Spam beats cafeteria food

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Jul 19 2002 - 09:01:10 PDT

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    Sunday, July 14, 2002
    I understand there are still 14 or 15 people out there who are not on
    the Internet. Boy, are you missing out! Just this morning I had an
    experience that reminded me why the Internet is the most important
    technological advance for humanity since humanity figured out how to
    put cheese into an aerosol can.
    What happened was, I was going through my work e-mail, by which I mean
    I was deleting it. As you Internet users know, most e-mail comes from
    ''spammers,'' who are the mutant spawn of a bizarre reproductive act
    involving a telemarketer, Larry Flynt, a tapeworm, and an executive of
    the Third Class mail industry. Every day I get dozens, sometimes
    hundreds, of e-mails from these people, almost always trying to sell
    me one of four things: (1) pornography; (2) Viagra; (3) a product for
    the man who is not satisfied with his natural self and would like to
    increase, by as much as three inches, the size of his endowment; or
    (4) a low-interest mortgage.
    Why are there so many e-mail ads for these products? Does anybody buy
    them? Is there a town somewhere, called Spamville, where the men
    consume Viagra and pornography in bulk quantities, then lurch around
    in a lust-crazed frenzy, their huge artificially enhanced endowments
    knocking holes in their walls, so eventually their houses fall down,
    forcing them to purchase new ones, using low-interest mortgages?
    I don't know. All I know is, I spend about half of my time on the
    Internet deleting e-mail. Fortunately, that leaves me with the other
    half of my time available to accomplish a much more important task:  
    trying to remember my password.
    The newspaper I work for, The Miami Herald, is owned by a large
    corporation that has a strict computer-password policy administered by
    people who were kicked out of the Nazi party for being too anal
    retentive. This policy requires us employees to constantly change our
    passwords, to prevent you outsiders from breaking into our computer
    system and reading our internal communications.
    For example, you might see the electronic bulletin board where
    reporters and editors discuss sensitive journalism issues, the main
    one being how bad our cafeteria is. Do you remember, maybe 15 years
    ago, when that giant barge full of garbage from Long Island was being
    towed up and down the East Coast because nobody wanted to take it? Did
    you ever wonder what happened to it? Apparently, to judge from the
    comments on our bulletin board, it's being gradually converted, ton by
    ton, into Miami Herald cafeteria entrees.
    But as I say, that information is classified. To keep you outsiders
    from getting hold of it, we employees are required to keep changing
    our passwords until, in a triumph of corporate security, we cannot
    remember them even with the aid of Sodium Pentothal. Many of us have
    to put a post-it note on our computer with our password written on it,
    along with the word ''PASSWORD,'' so we remember what it is. This is
    probably not a solid security practice, but if we don't do it, we will
    be unable to get into the system and carry out the important work of
    deleting our e-mail.
    So anyway, this morning I was at my home computer. I'd managed to log
    on and was deleting my e-mail when my 2-year-old daughter climbed into
    my lap and demanded to see Elmo. Elmo, like everybody else, is on the
    Internet, and if you go to his site, you can play the Laundry Game,
    where you help Elmo sort his laundry. This may sound pointless, but
    trust me, it's one of the more productive things you can do on the
    So the situation was this: I had a 2-year-old squirming in my lap, and
    a screenful of e-mail to be deleted. Somehow, trying to locate Elmo, I
    clicked the mouse on the wrong thing, and suddenly OHMIGOD, there it
    was, in color, a picture of four or five people, and what I believe
    was a very excited barnyard animal, all of them jaybird naked and
    engaging in some activity that, whatever it was, had nothing to do
    with obtaining a mortgage.
    I can't be more specific because I was frantically spinning my chair
    away from the screen and covering my daughter's eyes with one hand
    while trying to click the picture away, but as soon as I did MORE
    pictures popped up, and then more, covering the screen with explicit
    images of people and animals and possibly, at one point, Elmo. I
    finally had to turn off my computer to make it all go away.
    My point is, I could not have had this experience without the
    Internet. I want to thank everybody who made it possible, especially
    you spammers. Maybe some day I'll meet you in person!
    I'll buy your lunch.
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