Wednesday, July 06, 2005


The new Blogger ability to post pictures for free allows me to finally delete some spam. I’ve been saving it since Feb. 21 — it seems like longer — because it was too strange to lose.

Junk e-mailers have been forced to find ways to get around increasingly sophisticated filters meant to keep in boxes from become clogged with Nigerian get-rich-quick schemes and Cialis come-ons. They start with randomized, fake names for the identity of the sender, and it was this on the Feb. 21 e-mail that caught my attention: Audiophiles H. Tragics.

I didn’t know any such person. Not yet realizing this was spam, I found myself wanting to.

The subject line is also seemingly random on much modern spam, with some sort of algorithm factoring in text intended to make the recipient curious. This e-mail scored high here, too:

“Storm is coming! ... (and his angels.’ Here him, ye old and gray-headed, hear him).”

The biblical allusions aside, few have ever been so rude as to call me “old and gray-headed,” appropriate though it may be, so Mr. Tragics was acting in a fashion that was beyond mysterious. And what’s this coming storm? There was no way I wasn’t going to open this e-mail.

Imagine my disappointment to find an ad for a vacuum cleaner.

At least it continued the streak of bizarreness. It was for, as you can see from the accompanying image, a Singer vacuum cleaner called the “Lazer Storm.” No existing vacuum has any reason to refer to lasers (“lazer” must be to light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation as “cheez” is to cheese), let alone one that plays up wind, rather than light, with its “patented wind drive technology.”

Calling it a “Lazer Storm,” then, is over the top, even if it is “lightweight and powerful” — a laser being a powerful, weightless light.

Finally, don’t miss the blurb midway down the ad where, as part of a special Web offer, “You can really see [the vacuum cleaner] working!” This is an unfortunate bit of salesmanship that makes it sound as though seeing the device work is a rare, extraordinary event. Even were I the type to reward spam with commerce, breathless excitement over a working vacuum cleaner would have killed the deal. I have a vacuum cleaner that works reliably, and even that doesn’t thrill me.

As it is, I never clicked on the required link “For More Info Now!” And I never replied.

And I never heard back from Mr. Tragics.


wrecking_ball said...

I believe the natural language algorithm is used to outsmart spam filters, rather than to beguile the reader into opening the message. It can produce some interesting phrases, though, which I suppose are lost on Mr. Spam E. Filter.

Brian Wanamaker said...

It turns out that the Z in LAZER, rather than "stimulated," stands for "zapped."

Sorry to get all technical on you.

Scape7 said...

I think there's a spam poetry site out there somewhere, although I can't remember where I heard of it.

I suddenly want to play Lazer Tag — using vacuum cleaners to hurl at each other, of course, not that old-fashioned light-gun thing.

Brian Wanamaker said...

That would suck.

Scape7 said...

Suck-suck or vacuum-cleaner-suck?