The Ruminator

Come on up and grab yourself a beer.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

What does your spam say about you?

Like everyone with an email address, I get a fair amount of spam, and the Hotmail account just seems to attract it. I have noticed that I seem to get the same categories of spam all the time, and I'm starting to wonder what this says about me and my internet usage.

For example, I must be fairly unique among email users in never, ever getting spammed with porn. I don't know why. One of my housemates was until recently receiving truly frightening quantities of hardcore lesbian porn at her Hotmail account, despite activating the junk mail filters. Apparently I'm just not in that target demographic.

On the other hand I do get a lot of those messages advertising penis extensions.

I also keep getting messages inviting me to purchase university degrees from a variety of institutions. I would be vaguely curious to know how realistic they look, but I seem to get by with the degree I actually earned.

I've been getting a lot of copies of what was originally known as the Nigerian scam, both at my personal and work accounts. It seems to have become international now. You know the one - Greetings and the blessings of the Lord to you. I wish to explain my reaching out to you. I am the son / daughter / wife / brother / assistant to the late military / political / religious leader of Kenya / Nigeria / etc. When he died / was killed / was overthrown I came into possession of some US$5-100 million dollars. This money is now in a series of European bank accounts. Since I am under house arrest / in exile I am unable to access these funds. I seek a trustworthy partner into whose account I can deposit this money. In exchange for providing your bank account details, I will give you 20-50% of the total sum. May God bless you for your kind understanding. Sure you will buddy. Got any bridges for sale?

The other thing I keep getting in my personal and work accounts are coy messages from, telling me that someone has a crush on me. The idea is that you are supposed to guess who by entering the email addresses of potential admirers. If you guess correctly you get a congratulatory message and encouragement to go on a date. My favourite message so far came with the subject line "Less dissing, more kissing", and a rebuke for not having guessed my admirer. I presume (sincerely hope) that no one I know would resort to such a measure to let me know. It appears to be a pathetic excuse to send me spam from the website's sponsors.

If I took all this spam into account and attempted to use it as a picture of my life, it would be really depressing. According to the world of internet spam, I am in need of money, qualifications, and a date with a guy with a large dick.

Of course the really depressing thing about spam is when you are expecting a message from someone. You log into your account and see that you have six new messages, anticipation grows, and then they all turn out to be crap. God forbid you should actually get a message from someone you haven't heard from in a while. Like, oh I don't know, your brother. E-mail me you lazy bastard. And call your mother.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

The Wednesday Whinge

I know that violence against children is wrong. It's just that, sometimes, it's really, really tempting.

One of my latest resolutions has been to go swimming every weekday during my lunch break. There is a 50m pool quite close to my office, which means that I can swim 1km and get back to the office looking vaguely respectable within a reasonable timeframe. Yesterday I approached the door with some foreboding - there was a group of around 40 teenagers standing around outside. I went in anyway as they appeared to be waiting to leave, not enter. As I walked down the corridor toward the change-rooms, I realised they were waiting for the rest of the class.

Don't get me wrong, I actually quite like children, in general. In principle I would like to have some of my own one day. But a room full of shrieking 13-year-old girls is a hell which no one should be forced to endure. Particularly if the room is small and tiled, causing every sound to rebound and echo with frightening intensity. There must have been about 30 of them. It felt like 300.

At one point, sick of dodging around clusters of young girls clutching towels protectively to their non-existent breasts, I retreated to the toilets. This was a mistake. Every other cubicle had a 13-year-old girl in it, and they were yelling at each other from one end of the block to the next. Then they actually started a 'who can make the loudest noise' competition. Through all this there was a teacher in the next room, but she was obviously immune to this by now (or deaf) and didn't try to get them to stop. Which meant that not only was she of no use in stopping the madness, she also prevented me from following my natural instinct, which was to start screaming "Shut the fuck up you little fuckers before I come in there and make you", and move on from there.

Fortunately I managed to blow off a lot of my acquired tension in the pool.

And another thing. Every time I go to the pool these days there is at least one person walking up and down in the shallow end. I have no problem with this. It is probably quite good exercise. But given that it makes you, by quite a substantial margin, the slowest thing in the pool, wouldn't you think that this was an activity best undertaken in the slow lane? Especially if you decide to relieve the boredom by going with a friend and walking side-by-side in the lane? No? Well, let's just hope that I don't cause us both the trauma of swimming straight into your spongy arse before I realise you are there.

My other whinge for the day is that I have to get my windscreen replaced today. I was just driving over one of the bridges that cross the lake, heading for the city, when a small stone flung up by the car in front of me made a chip in my windscreen. Which turned into a crack. Which got bigger. I wouldn't mind so much if I had been driving somewhere exciting, on a dirt road. It's a chance you take. But I can't believe I ruined my windscreen driving through the middle of bloody Canberra.

Oh well, I feel better now. One of my housemates made everyone blueberry pancakes for breakfast this morning, so life can't be all bad.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Happy Birth Day Astro Boy!

I loved Astro Boy. Like Monkey, G-Force and the Transformers, he played an integral part in my childhood imaginings. Astro boy was small and sweet, but super-tough and capable of shooting bullets out of his arse. What more do you need in a superhero? Plus he could fly, which as previously discussed is about the coolest thing you can do. Astro Boy conjures up fond memories of getting up early on Saturday and eating breakfast in front of the TV in my PJs.

Created by Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy was ‘born’ on 7 April 2003. Originally Tetsuwan Atomu, or The Mighty Atom, Astro Boy was launched in 1951 as a comic book, then a black and white TV series in the 60s. The version familiar to those of us who were kids in the eighties set the story back to 2030 (preserving the original ‘50-years from now’ concept, and presumably accounting for the realisation that by 2003 we were unlikely to have a large robot underclass).

As the story goes, Dr Boynton, Head of the Ministry of Science, created Astro Boy as an exact replica of his son Toby, who was killed in a car accident. Presumably they meant ‘exact replica’ apart from the super strength, enhanced hearing, rocket-powered feet, searchlight eyes, hip-mounted machine gun, and laser beams in his fingertips. In one version of the story, Astro Boy is rejected by his father. In the version released in the 80s, Dr Boynton mysteriously disappears. Astro’s guardian then becomes Dr Elufun, creator of the Robot Bill of Rights and of Astro Boy’s robot parents. Astro also has a nemesis, Atlas, who was built from Astro’s orginal plans, but has an additional ‘omega factor’ which allows him to commit evil deeds.

The central Tokyo district of Takadanobaba, where Astro Boy was set, has been organising special celebrations for his birth day, including displays, a parade, and playing the Astro Boy theme to signal the departure of the trains at the local station.

For someone simultaneously new born and 52 years old, Astro Boy is not doing too badly.