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30 May 2005

Good Spam, Bad Spam, Everywhere Spam

I am one of the few people that actually enjoy the canned lunchmeat, SPAM. Much to the chagrin of Hormel Foods, maker of the canned "Shoulder Pork and hAM"/"SPiced hAM", the term "spam" has today come to mean network abuse, particularly junk e-mail and massive junk postings to newsgroups and bulletin boards on Usenet.

So how did the name SPAM come to mean massive junk postings? Here's the scoop according to

"Most people have some vague awareness that it came from at first from the spam skit by Monty Python's Flying Circus. In the sketch, a restaurant serves all its food with lots of Spam, and the waitress repeats the word several times in describing how much spam is in the items. When she does this, a group of Vikings (don't ask) in the corner start a song:

"Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!"

Until told to shut up.

Thus the meaning of the term at least: something that keeps repeating and repeating to great annoyance."

I savor the meat (yes, really) and I adore Monty Python, but this new version of digital SPAM? Definitely on my top ten hit list.

Sadly, much of the digital world were targets of a rightwing German propaganda campaign this month using email spam to get its point across. Most of these emails were in German and were sent to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe and Russia, as well as a current European election. Spammers used the Sober.G virus - a mass mailing worm that sends itself to email addresses harvested from infected computers - to spread their messages as widely as possible. This marks the first time that right wing extremists have used spamming techniques to reach a broad audience. The sheer size of the operation stunned many experts across the globe. In the past, spam has primarily been used as a means for low-cost direct marketing. They want to sell you something. This new attack has a completely different focus: global political propaganda. Once this door has been opened, it likely will not be the last event, I’m afraid. I believe it will happen more and more frequently.

As we techies work to find a better solution to bad spam, you might want to try having a fried slice of the GOOD spam for lunch: a little mayo, sweet pickle relish and whole wheat bread makes for a great sandwich!


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