Sunday, August 03, 2008

Disturbing subject lines in spam messages

I get lots — and I do mean lots — of spam, literal­ly hun­dreds every day, offering the usual assort­ment of home mort­gage enlarge­ment, cheap software for your penis, and college diplomas for your computer. Most of them get shuttled into my spam folder, or get blocked before they even get that far, but no spam filtering is perfect, so I try to check in and make sure that no legit messages have been over­zeal­ous­ly marked as spam. I was glancing through today's haul and noticed a rather dis­turb­ing trend emerging in the subject lines the spammers use to try to lure you into opening their messages.

Quite a few have reasonably straight­for­ward subject lines: "rolex mania," or "debt consolidation," or "BuyViagra online At The *Chepeast* Price!" [sic]. A few try to be a bit more coy: "Nights full of pleasure are possible," or "million selections," or "Want to make money while surfing." Some are just gibberish: "sidereal dully louisa jostle inherit," for an example that sounds suspiciously like some of the "dictionary attack" addresses at which I receive spam. (I get spammed at such common usernames as Rutledge­Depend­Wilton­Being@­, Sidewalk­Molecu­lar@­, and a1aaa­1azzzz­1zaaaaa@­ But the ones that caught my eye today are trying to shock the recipient into opening the e-mail:

  • Richard Nixon Speaks From The Grave!

  • Clinton withdraws support for Obama

  • Shia LeBeouf [sic] to lose hand

  • Anthrax suspected as 2 die in postal office

  • Eva Longoria stabs and injures maid

  • Hurricane hits southern Florida, thousands left homeless

  • Britney Clothed Photo Fury [as if Britney would ever wear clothes!]

  • Bush lets McCain inherit $485 billion deficit [true, if McCain wins, but the subhead is "8.7 scale earthquake rocks eastern California, thousands feared dead" and it points to a website in Spain]

  • Torture widespread in Palestinian jails: Advertisers that using sex [sic] to sell products help increase their sales by 10%
I mean, really, if sex will only increase my sales by 10%, what's the use of tor­tur­ing my inmates? I think that pretty well proves the point that we'll never bring down our nation­al debt by mailing anthrax to our hurri­cane victims.

By the way, on a bit of a wild tangent just to prove that you can't always trust what you read in the "main­stream" dead-tree press, today's San Francisco Chronicle gives yesterday's highest and lowest tempera­tures both for Cali­for­nia and for the other 47 con­tigu­ous states. Yester­day's high in Cali­for­nia was 120° [49°C] at Death Valley, beating the rest of the country by a healthy margin — 113° [45°C] in Bull­head City, Arizona. However, the Chron says that yesterday's low in the state was 9° [–13°C] at Cabrillo National Monu­ment. Trouble is, the monument is on a point jutting out between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It can be pretty chilly with the onshore breeze, but I'd be sur­prised if it has ever been below freezing in my life­time, much less in August. About the coldest actual tem­pera­ture in Cali­for­nia yes­ter­day was in Truckee, at 39° [+4°C], down from the day's high of 81° [27°C].

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