Trying to adhere to the plan, I have identified this week’s Contenders for the spam sweepstakes. By odd circumstance, none of them this time is sexual in nature. On second thought, perhaps that’s not so odd. Just as there are only X jokes about sex that are funny before they begin to repeat and eventually degenerate into something like Seinfeld, perhaps there are only Y e-mail subject line hooks that you can fashion about making your willie bigger, stronger, harder etc.
[N.b. As I may have mentioned on this blog from time to time, I do not watch television (in the sense of a television program; obviously I’ll watch one of my DVDs on a screen), or at least I never choose to watch it. If I am at someone’s house where one is on, or if at a public place, I more or less have no way to escape it. But in terms of electing to plop myself down in front of an operational television, I haven’t really done that except upon the rarest of occasions since about 1987. So my references to television pop culture tend to be both dated and based upon very, very limited sample sizes. I once watched most of an episode of Seinfeld. It was a series of New York City references you likely wouldn’t get unless you lived there, and one-liners about sex. I found it profoundly tedious.]
Several of this week’s crop of spam subject lines seem to go together, in the sense of one explaining the other, or one in response to the other. “Calories are awkward creations. Xenical knows how to destroy them”. Oh dear, where to start? A calorie is a unit of energy. Like a Joule. Except upon the sub-atomic level perhaps, I am unaware of any process for the destruction of energy. “Awkward creations”? Well, I suppose in a nuclear reaction, in which energy is released from fission/fusion, things can get jolly awkward pretty quickly. What our spammer is of course referring to is the energy content specifically of food. Food is how animals take on, among other things, the energy we require to sustain vital life processes. Like, for humans and other mammals (and birds), being warm-blooded. No calories, no metabolism, no cuddling under the blanket to warm up.
Maybe if you take enough Xenical you can “Eat without consequences. Xenical”. Consequences like surviving.
“Go Here Now To Clear Any And All Mental Fog Forever!” Is that really what we want, though, given that “Infections are not worth remembering!” Maybe, however, once cleared of any and all of our mental fog (forever!), we can find our way to “The area without infections”. Wouldn’t that be a nice place to retire? On a slightly different tack, if one were to “Enjoy life forget without diets! Purchase now,” wouldn’t I be rather better set to continue on with at least some of my mental fog? Have to question whether we’d not be working at cross-purposes.
It must be a very good thing that there are places like “The area without infections,” for folks who click through and learn how to “Overnight remove every mole and skin”. I’ve labored under the impression that our skin is our No. 1 defense against infections. Once upon a time, being flayed alive was a punishment doled out to those of whom one wished to make a particularly grisly example. Like St. Bartholomew, to name one. Or the poor old boy who, if memory serves, was commander of the garrison at Nicosia in 1570. After the Ottomans finally stormed the city to end the siege, they cut off his ears, nose (and I think lips as well), and then he was flayed alive and his skin stuffed with straw. Several centuries later a casket containing what was left of the skin was returned to some of his descendants. The whole unsavory story is told in a history of the Mediterranean Sea the title and author of which I cannot at the moment recall.
Let’s just say that I’m not in any hurry to pay money to remove “every” of my “mole and skin”.
There is a species of mindset out there which responds to the notion of being able to Put One Over. People who indulge this mindset are the origin of the saying that you can’t cheat an honest man. It is apparently a standard tool in the grifter’s box to offer the mark Something for Nothing, or — and this really must be tied into some dark fabric of human nature, as susceptible as people tend to be to it — a specifically illicit advantage over one’s fellows. If Gentle Reader will observe closely, what really gets people’s attention is not the offer of I’ll show you how to play by the rules more effectively, or better understand the rules, or even how to make the rules work more in your favor. No: What really get them [Or as Twain put it: “If that don’t fetch ’em, I don’t know Arkansaw.”] is the offer of I’ll show you how to cheat the rules while the other guy still has to play by them.
The people who fall for the grifter’s blandishments are the target audience for e-mails containing the word “trick” and its variants, frequently in combination with words like “secret,” “weird,” or “simple.” A weird trick will enable you to out-smart all those guys on Wall Street who have been doing this stuff for years and have millions of dollars of computing power to analyze the market and its movements. But for just $250, paid by wire transfer of course, I’ll show you a weird trick that will earn you however-many-thousand dollars a day trading penny stocks. Or something.
The other target audience for “trick” are the desperate. This secret trick will have the girls fighting to jump into your bed. This ancient trick will get you into a size 2 dress by next month! And so forth. There must be a special place in hell for people who prey on the desperate like that. Don’t get me wrong: I fully understand that for desperate people, desperate measures are sometimes the only ones that work. Years ago The New York Times ran an article on the payday advance and title loan business. It was focused principally on Nashville, Tennessee which at the time was apparently a locus of the industry. Most of the article was predictable claptrap about how sky-high the interest rates charged were, how destitute the borrowers were, and so forth. But bless their pea-pickin’ hearts, the article actually did share the comments of another fellow who pointed out that the patrons of these places simply do not have access to any financing anywhere else other than outright loan sharks. For whatever reasons exist in their particular lives, they’re horrible credit risks and banks and other “standard” lenders cannot lend money to them. Full stop. For those folks it’s either the title loan/payday advance operations or else some guy in an alleyway wearing sunglasses at night whose middle name is “The”. What I’m talking about here is the sort of personal desperation that is scarred into a person’s bones by knowing that you’re physically unprepossessing; or that you simply have no social skills; or that you’re painfully shy; or that you’re not likely ever to lose all that weight; or that you’re on the autism spectrum, that’s just how you’re wired, and you’ll never understand how to interact with your fellow humans; or that you have few marketable skills, no realistic prospect of acquiring any, and no prospect of ever not being able to live quite from one paycheck to the next, so that you are forever sinking, one week at a time, ever deeper. Those people are the targets of the “this weird trick” spammers.
“Simple ‘Trick’ reverses Baldness”. I know of at least one fellow who lost most of his hair to male pattern baldness at a comparatively early age and so wigged out that he attempted suicide about it. Apparently as a teenager he’d had longish, flowing, blond hair and was very vain on the subject. Of course, I also know something about his family background and dynamics, and I’m pretty comfortable that his hair falling out was merely the culmination of several other poisonous systems at play. In contrast, I know quite several guys who’ve lost their hair or most of it and just shave the balance. None of them appears to have experienced any difficulty — at least not outside of cold weather — by reason of it. I’m pleased that my hair is unusually thick (my barber has commented on any number of occasions that I don’t need to worry about going bald any time soon).
The top two contenders, this week, must be the following:
“We [random non-Roman characters] the best friend of suffering from pain. Try it, you like it!”
“Even after 6 p.m. now! Food is no longer gangrenous for ideal forms”.
Of the two, I think I’m going to declare the latter to be this week’s winner. There’s just so much going on in this one, from the translating dictionary aspect, to the humor of taking the text literally, to its tie-in with the Xenical spam above, to the mysterious time reference (why 1800, after all? why not 1915 or 1730?), to the quasi-philosophical construct of “ideal forms”. I mean, is this somehow Kantian speculative spam? Is this perhaps a result of being able to “Eat without consequences”? Certainly avoiding gangrene from my evening hamburger — quite apart from “destroying calories” — would be a delightful outcome yes?
And so we now have our first weekly sole champion.