Maybe my favorite spam ever

Once a week, I clean the spam filter on this blog’s comments. Every since I added a basic math problem to my commenting system, the number of spam comments has gone way down. But always there are several dozen new messages. Somewhere around the globe, a spam commenteer — a real human being — has done the math and pasted the spam text into the box. The global economy at work.

But here’s where things get weird. A quarter or so of that spam is not the desired spam but a set of spam templates. Who knows why anyone would post them. Perhaps there is a rogue spam shop on the far side of the world where spam serfs have misinterpreted their instructions and gone wildly astray. But the template gives a great look into the work of creating spam at scale. You can see hundreds of text variations: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, numbers, and more. Some spammer in this world is writing his or her heart out.

Here are my five favorite parts of the template:

Five. Finessing the opening.

I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.

Four. Varying nearly every word.

{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make {a few|some} plans for {the future|the longer term|the long run} and {it is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} {read|learn} this {post|submit|publish|put up} and if I {may just|may|could} I {want to|wish to|desire to} {suggest|recommend|counsel} you {few|some} {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing} {things|issues} or {advice|suggestions|tips}.

Three. The same, but even more gracious.

Your {way|method|means|mode} of {describing|explaining|telling} {everything|all|the whole thing} in this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} is {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}, {all|every one} {can|be able to|be capable of} {easily|without difficulty|effortlessly|simply} {understand|know|be aware of} it, Thanks a lot.

Two. Using Texas for legitimacy.

{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your {site|web site|website|weblog|blog} for {a long time|a while|some time} now and finally got the {bravery|courage} to go ahead and give you a shout out from {New Caney|Kingwood|Huffman|Porter|Houston|Dallas|Austin|Lubbock|Humble|Atascocita} {Tx|Texas}!

One. The irony of it all.

{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hello}, i read your blog {occasionally|from time to time} and i own a similar one and i was just {wondering|curious} if you get a lot of spam {comments|responses|feedback|remarks}? If so how do you {prevent|reduce|stop|protect against} it, any plugin or anything you can {advise|suggest|recommend}? I get so much lately it’s driving me {mad|insane|crazy} so any {assistance|help|support} is very much appreciated.

Neverending note mysteries

In an old notepad of mine, there’s mention of a Mary Oliver poem. I have no idea where I first heard the poem or when I wrote down a line from it, but it’s wonderful. You can read the work in full here.

You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.

On a different page of my notes, there’s “belted kingfisher.” I learn from research today that the bird is a wild one. “When a Belted Kingfisher catches a fish, it will fly back to its perch, bang the fish against the branch, throw it up into the air, catch it, and swallow it.”

Another page: “Catholic guilt. Never connected with it. Always saw it more as a kind of restlessness to do better. An interconnectedness.”


Blogging ain’t what it used to be (and that’s a good thing)

For a long time I’ve used StatCounter to track metrics on this blog, but it’s become full of Google and Facebook bots the past few years. So, enough of that. But in parting, it’s interesting to see how a blogger’s activity affects traffic. Years ago, I promoted the blog pretty regularly on Facebook and later Twitter. Then I stopped. Extroversion wasn’t for me. And I posted less, as life got busier. You can see the difference in the numbers, loud and clear. But I’m happy with the trade. Life has become more diverse. And this blog still works as a place to put one word in front of another.

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A performance deserving a list

It can be somewhat strange to see a great music writer penning a Web listicle. I have several of Rob Sheffield’s books on my shelves, and he’s the author of the list in front of me at the moment. But the video he’s writing about is truly amazing, one of the better ’70s rock performances you’ll see, rife with riffs, power, drama and historical foreshadowing. And his list is good. His reasoning is quite valid. The headline writer is either a overreaching fool or an arch satirist. The great vid gets an impossible headline, “17 Reasons This ‘Rhiannon’ Clip Is the Coolest Thing in the Universe.” Via Rich Gordon.

I think my RSS reader has issues

Or the Popville RSS feed does — I’m not sure which. But in my reader, a post’s featured photo has a habit of appearing instead with the headline and body of a slightly later post. Here’s most screen-shot-able instance so far (and according to reports, all actually hurt in the incident are alive):

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Rediscovering links I told myself to visit… a year and a half ago

Lost emails always have the best stuff:

A German children’s prayer.

A longread about boss-less jobs.

A random (but catchy) minor Justin Timberlake song.

Sliding Doors-like links for a talk I never attended and a movie I never saw.

The Wikipedia page for Anna Kendrick.

Paris Takes a Crack at Lobster Rolls.”

A New Yorker brief about the cast of Gatz watching 3-D Gatsby:

The biggest reaction came at the end of a pivotal scene—mayhem at the Plaza Hotel, during a hot afternoon party, in which Tom confronts Daisy and Gatsby. Nick says to Tom, in the novel and onscreen, “I just remembered that today’s my birthday.” Here, Luhrmann added a line, growled by Tom: “Happy Birthday.” To the “Gatz” crowd, this was the equivalent of a Schwarzenegger zinger that preceded a hail of gunfire. They laughed and yelled.


Maybe my quickest digital buy

Last week, Springsteen put his first truly archival download-only show on the Web: August 9, 1978, at the Agora in Cleveland. Bootlegged for years as Agora Night and other titles, the show is one of the best radio broadcasts of the Darkness tour. And the bootlegs have had a pretty good sound quality. But this official release — mastered from tapes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame found in boxes, I like to imagine in some vast Raiders of the Lost Ark-like warehouse — sounds amazing.

All lossless for $12.95 (and plain MP3 for $9.95):

Star local radio DJ and critical Boss evangelist Kid Leo gets all kinds of mentions. Summertime Blues opens the show. Badlands and Prove It are raw and fast and fantastic. She’s the One gets Not Fade Away and Gloria as intros, and the thing is fierce. Growin’ Up gets the teenage werewolf story AND Bruce and Clarence meeting God. And more. Let it rock.

From a bootleg version (so imagine how good the new one sounds):